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May 11, 2011

Top Ten Climatology Records Tell All

By recent USEE Intern Jesse Peterson.

For some reason, we are fascinated with extremes. Some of the most intriguing are, of course, the various climatological records set across the country. The records in this post are culled from various sources including The National Climatic Data Center, Riskmeter Online, Hurricane City, Weatherpages.com, National Lung Association, and Sperling's Best Places.

In regards to Utah, the state hits only three out of the 27 top ten lists:

It is the ninth most prone state for Earthquakes based upon the number of earthquakes centered in each respective state over the last 30 years. This isn't too surprising, but what might be surprising is that our neighbors, Nevada (4th), Idaho (6th), and Wyoming (7th) all rank higher.

Utah has the 3rd lowest temperature (based on state records) ever recorded in the U.S., a bone-chilling -69.3 degrees Fahrenheit at Peter Sink, UT. Really? This temperature has even been suggested as the second coldest temperature ever recorded. Only two other temperatures exceed this one, Rogers Pass, MT, recorded -70, just one degree more, while Prospect Creek, AK, registered -80 degrees. Peter Sink is located in the Bear River Mountains east of Logan. It is so cold here that no trees grow at the bottom of the sinkhole, and the average amount of time that passes without Peter Sink dropping to below freezing is only four days, even in summer. This area gets so cold because Utah suffers temperature inversions, cold air settles into the sinkhole, and famous Utah powdered snow insulates better than fiberglass and keeps any warmth from the earth interacting with the air.

Weather Observation at Peter Sinks - Image Source

The third, and most surprising is that based on pollen counts between 1999-2002, Salt Lake City was the eighth best city for allergies. Can you believe it? Put that Benadryl down, friend. Of course, looking at the other honorees, one notices that many included in this list are big cities like L.A., San Francisco, Chicago, Grand Rapids, Milwaukee, and Seattle. This causes me to wonder what are the reasons for such a low pollen count. Drought? Lots of concrete and few parks/plants?

Anyways, California wins outright in the number of cities with little to no climate variation. Florida, not Oklahoma or Kansas ("there's no place like home"), is the state most prone to experience tornadoes, with an average of 9.4 tornadoes per 10,000 sq. mi. based upon the years 1953-2004. Though Florida trumps in the aforementioned category, Oklahoma City is the most at risk city for tornadoes and no city from Florida finds its way onto this top ten list.

The hottest temperature recorded, of course, took place in Death Valley (134 degrees), while the second hottest was recorded at the popular excursion destination Lake Havasu, AZ (128 degrees); you might wish to consider going during the fall or spring.

The snowiest city is not where you might think: Blue Canyon, CA with 240.8" of annual avg. snow, a whopping 112.2" more than its direct competitor Marquette, MI. Buffalo, NY is conspicuously absent.

Chicago, the windy city, is NOT on the top ten list for windiest city - instead, Blue Hill Observatory, MA (is this even a city?) takes the number one spot with Dodge City, KS, taking the number two spot.

Yuma, AZ, is not only the sunniest city, but also the driest and the city with the least amount of rain (only 17 days per year), though in average relative humidity it falls into third place behind Las Vegas, NV, and Phoenix, AZ.

The rainiest city is not Quillayute, WA, but instead, Hilo, HI.

Though dirty here in Utah, Cheyenne WY has the cleanest air in the nation (based on long-term particle pollution).

As far as I have discovered, the U.S. only holds ONE WORLD RECORD in climatological effects. On June 22, 1947, in Holt, Missouri, 12" of rain fell in a mere 42 minutes.

These are pretty amazing facts, and we'd love to hear any more from our readers. So post your comments and tell us what makes the U.S. so climatologically cool...or hot...or wet... or whatever...

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