Tue November 22, 2011
Earth Notes: Grand Canyon Weather, Right Now
Each year an average of 250 people are rescued from inside Grand Canyon. Many of them are hikers unprepared for the substantial temperature difference between the top of the rim and inside the canyon. Hikers can be surprised as they start with pleasant 70-degree temperatures at the top and approach a dangerous 100 degrees, or more, near the river.
Now the National Weather Service is working to address that gap in perceptions. With help from the Park Service, it installed two weather stations inside the Canyon: one at Indian Garden Campground, the other at Phantom Ranch.
The stations collect data on temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, rainfall, and pressure data. But what’s most important is what’s done with the information: it is uploaded to the web at five- to fifteen-minute intervals, providing visitors with real-time data.
Anyone can access the information from the Weather Service’s Flagstaff website via the Grand Canyon forecast section. And a graduate student at Northern Arizona University is using the data in a microclimate study. That may ultimately help the Weather Service improve its ability to provide temperature and humidity forecasts within the canyon.
Nick Petro is one of the National Weather Service meteorologists who helped design and build the stations. He says he’s received e-mails and phone calls from visitors letting him know that the information has helped them better plan their trip.