Among many other consequences, Stockton’s financial problems might harm our understanding of the region’s long-term weather and climate trends.
Officially, the city’s weather statistics are pulled from a station at the Stockton Metropolitan Airport, on the south side of town. But records have been kept there only since 1948.
On the other hand, records have been kept at the city’s fire station No. 4 since 1906. That’s a much longer period of time, giving us a better idea of what’s really going on in Stockton.
Unfortunately, according to the National Weather Service, fire station No. 4 is not reporting the weather conditions as often as it used to because of a reduction in the number of staff. And if too many days are missed, the data as a whole simply becomes unreliable.
“We have to go with airport data instead,” Weather Service forecaster George Cline said.
So yes, 2013 was the driest year on record at the airport, but that goes back only six and one-half decades.
Was 2013 the driest year on record at the fire station? If we were able to answer the question we would be able to place the current dry spell in the most accurate historic context possible. Instead, we’ll never know.