(ARIZONA'S WEATHER AUTHORITY) -- You always hear your favorite weather person saying the records in Phoenix go back to 1896.
Yes and no.
Records kept by the U.S. Weather Bureau, as the Weather Service was known, began on Jan. 1, 1896. That beat-up book to the right is the repository of those first weather notations.
So, what do the first weather records from the Weather Bureau look like inside? They’re in storage at Arizona State University, and it’s obvious the books are more than 100 years old.
We were allowed to delicately photograph a few of the pages under the watchful eye of Arizona State Climatologist Nancy Selover.
The records were handwritten, of course. And the penmanship is exquisite.
While we think the weather observations were taken three times daily, only one set of numbers was recorded in this book. It shows current temperature, high and low from the past 24 hours, barometric pressure and wind readings.
On that first day, Jan. 1, 1896, the high was 65.5 degrees with a low of 29.5. At the time of the reading, the sky was clear and there was no wind. The next two days the low was 30 degrees, so to start off the Phoenix weather record, we had three days in a row below freezing.
Times have changed. When is the last time we had a reading in the 20s at the official weather station for Phoenix? That answer: Jan. 15, 2013.
Wind was pretty hit and miss. What was recorded was, generally, what was occurring at the time of the observation. Now we have 24/7 reporting of wind speed so we never miss a gust or a zephyr.
Then every month there's a summary, much like we get today. Except these summaries were hand calculated and must have taken some time.
I see that we had just under a 1/2 inch of rain in January 1896. Can you catch any other data?
And just for fun, look at the full page of the summary. Note the signature. Does that say "Hayden" as in Hayden Mill? That was a pretty famous name around these parts back in the 19th century.