How not to measure temperature, part 28 – Eureka!

Well, I found it. Eureka that is, but what I found was rather depressing. I visited the climate stations of record both old and new at Eureka, California on July 30th and I can’t decide which site is more out of compliance with sitings standards.

The original location was on the 4th story roof of the main Post office in downtown Eureka and had been there since before 1900:


The weather station was on the elevated scaffold above the roof, it is still visible today.

But the station was moved to the National Weather Service Office on Woodley Island in 1994. They had a chance then to do a good site setup and to adhere to published siting standards, but alas, no such luck:


The site at the Eureka Weather Service Office has several problems: Asphalt parking lot within 100 feet, buildings within 100 feet, and a line of large shade trees about 25 feet to the west and north, making significant shade for about 1/3 to 1/2 of the day, depending on the time of year, plus wind shelter. Plus there is the concrete under the Stevenson Screen, the 3 concrete pillars for rain gauges that can act as heat sinks, and the crushed rock around the station site. “Crushed rock” isn’t generally found in Humboldt county as a natural surface, so the surface under the weather station isn’t representative of the surrounding area.


A complete photo essay is available here on

If the NWS doesn’t see fit to make the sites at their own offices comply with published site standards, is it any wonder that so many of the other climate stations of record are so far out of compliance?

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August 6, 2007 11:47 am

Eureka that is, but what I found was rather depressing.
That’d be the common reaction to Eureka. It rains, drizzles, or fogs eight months out of the year. The other four it’s overcast.
My advice to you Anthony, get out now. Before your tire goes flat or an earthquake knocks down the only exit (not kidding – we got trapped there one September due to earthquake)
Run fast and hard. Don’t look back.

George M
August 6, 2007 2:06 pm

The geometry of the photos makes it look like the rain gauge(s?) are almost directly beneath the tower and trees. While not particularly relevant to your temperature interests, it must make the rainfall measurements questionable. I have had to move my tipping bucket unit three times in ten years due to encroaching vegetation, and the need to move is always obvious, as the deviation between it and a remotely sited fixed collector gauge becomes obviously outside the normal margin of error.

George M
August 6, 2007 2:17 pm

On closer examination, apparently what I thought was a very old style rain gauge is a tank of propane on a pedestal. What on earth is it for? Heating the real gauge? I thought that was done electrically? Anyway, burning propane, the only use for it which seems likely, produces heat so there’s another imponderable contribution, eh? And why there, almost in the middle of the (poorly sited) instrumentation area anyway?

August 6, 2007 3:57 pm

I don’t see any propane tanks. A buoy is there. But what we have are three types of rain gauges:
1) dipstick type, with three legged support
2) Old Weighing rain gauge with strip chart recorder( the silver one with small door near bottom leftmost in pictures)
3) tipping bucket rain gauge with wind reduction vanes.

George M
August 7, 2007 6:40 am

So, I was right the first time. It has been a while since I have seen the #2) type in service, which looks vaguely like a 50# propane bottle from the camera distance. But, that still leaves the question about the effect of the nearby trees on rainfall accuracy, nevermind temperature indications. Do you suppose they add all the rain measurement results up and divide by three to average out site effects?? The photos show the tree shadows reaching or past the various gauges, so unless those photos were taken very early or very late in the day, the trees are way too close. I suppose the distance could be scaled from the overhead photo, but the whole installation certainly reinforces your question: “What were they thinking?”.

August 7, 2007 11:13 am

Anthony you will never believe this.
Former Governor and current AG Jerry Brown is arguing the AGW party line in the comment section of this Daniel Weintrab article.
Daniel Weintraub: Republicans tangle with old foe on global warming
I urge any one who is interested in arguing with the actual policy makers involved with climate change to come to that article and add your two cents. Registration is a bit of a process, but how often does such an opportunity come about?
Jerry Brown’s comment to the article;

The strange comments above reflect the type of distorted thinking now controling Republican State Senators. This rather isolated group persists in fighting every effort to combat global warming–against the views of 95% of climate scientists and the 100 nations which recently spoke out at the United Nations in favor of immediate action to control global greenhouse gasses. California can’t wait until 20012. Over 400 cities nationwide are taking action on global warming. As for freeways, the truth is I built three times more than governors Wilson and Deukmejian combined.

February 7, 2009 12:03 pm

[…] covered other rooftop stations in the USWB COOP network, notably the Sacramento, Eureka, and Baltimore stations. There’s also an oddball rooftop station in Oakland at the Museum. […]

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