DENVER (KDVR) — People have been asking the same question for decades here in Denver about why the weather station that records the official temperature and precipitation measurement is located at Denver International Airport and not closer to the city.
The most recent snowstorm in Denver this Tuesday and Wednesday brought 10 inches to downtown Denver and only 3.5 inches to DIA. Storms like this are the ones that have people questioning why the official measurements for Denver are taken at the airport.
DIA is located about 18 miles northeast of downtown and it is also where the Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) for the city of Denver is located.
Weather observations are taken every six hours and some of them, like snowfall, have to be taken manually.
Greg Hanson with the National Weather Service says the manual observations are a big reason that measurements are taken at the airport because there is someone there at all times to record them. Another reason it is located at the airport is due to the fact that the data is also used by the FAA for aviation operations.
Pilots need quick and accurate weather information, so it is helpful to have the ASOS site nearby at the airport.
Although many people perceive the airport to have drastically different weather than the city, it is not as different as one might think.
Hanson pulled data and compared temperatures at Central Park, where the old Stapleton Airport used to be, to those at DIA and said that the difference when it came to temperatures and precipitation levels at both sites were not that different.
He went on to say that the data from the old airport when compared to DIA shows that the latter actually has three more inches of snow yearly on average versus Stapleton (now Central Park). Hanson also mentioned that in the cold season, DIA can average about 1.5 degrees cooler than Central Park.
The good news is that the National Weather Service is working to upgrade an automatic weather station in Central Park that will be able to record a lot of weather data for Denver 10 miles closer to downtown than the airport is.