Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Record warm temps set over weekend

National Weather Service doesn?t maintain station in valley

Express Staff Writer

There may now be a spring nip to the air, but cities throughout southern and central Idaho set high temperature records over the weekend.

It is unclear, however, whether record temperatures were set in the Wood River Valley—although they probably were. The National Weather Service does not maintain a weather station here.

Jeff Hedges, a senior forecaster with the Pocatello office of the National Weather Service, said records were broken in Stanley, Challis, Idaho Falls, Burley and Pocatello on Saturday. With the Wood River Valley in the center of those areas, it is likely records were broken here as well.

"You probably would have broken them," Hedges said. "As widespread as it was, it's hard to imagine your area didn't qualify as well."

Temperatures were broken by anywhere from 2 to 6 degrees Fahrenheit. The mercury rose to 58 in Stanley, breaking a record by 2 degrees; it rose to 74 in Burley, breaking a record by 4 degrees; the high in Pocatello was 72, breaking a record by 6 degrees; temperatures in Challis rose to 70, breaking a record by 3 degrees.

Things should now continue to cool for a while, Hedges said, even though spring is springing.

"You're not going to see the big sub-zero temperatures anymore," he said. "It'll still drop below freezing from time to time, but you'll see less and less of that as we move into the season."

Hedges said National Weather Service-approved weather stations are scattered throughout the state and include 24-hour observations. Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey has a Federal Aviation Administration-approved weather station that doesn't quite meet muster with National Weather Service standards.

What's more, he said a newly installed weather station wouldn't provide meaningful data.

"If you started one now, every day would be a new record," he said.

Data are available for existing weather stations going back about 100 years.

The warm weather was a simple recipe of high pressure settling over the West, "which pushes the jet stream north into Canada, and on the other coast it's just the opposite," Hedges said.

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