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I'd like to know why the official temperature for Salt Lake City is the temperature at the airport, when other parts of town are noticably warmer. For example, officially it is 30 degrees at this time. However, the thermometer on my garage reads 50 (I live just east of Highland Drive near the Villa Theatre). Although snow is still falling a bit, it is melting almost as fast as it comes down, water is running down the street and, even though I have not cleaned our walks, they are practically clear--and we had at least about 5 inches of snow overnight. While there is the possibility that the thermometer on my garage is off a few degrees, it is obviously much warmer than 30 or the snow would not be melting so quickly. So why isn't the "official" Salt Lake temperature taken at least down town where it would be a more realistic reflection of city temperatures instead of way out at the airport?
Here's the deal. The temperature sensor needs to be in the same place for climate reasons. We use our climate and historic averages from one location, if you switch that location, that becomes a huge problem. Then our climate data is inconsistent. The thermomemter has been at the airport for a long time. Actually, weather records there began on May 1st, 1928. It's critical the location for climate purposes and weather history not be moved.
Now, if you do want to get temperature data for other locations in the city you totally can. You can use the Utah mesonet map (link on the right) and you can link to a whole bunch of weather sensors all around our community and it's free.
I don't know why your thermometer was reading 50 on your garage. It's possible snow could have been falling at 50 with much colder temperatures higher up and melting snow to the lowest layer. We must also remember that the temperatures along the Wasatch front can range dramatically AND if the front was moving from west to east and you are east, then the colder air would take a little while to arrive at your house.
Also keep in mind that usually the temperatures at the airport you see on your television are hourly, meaning they are taken at the top of the hour usually. You can get the real time temperatures using the mesonet. Temperatures can rise or fall within an hour pretty significantly but sometimes we won't get the current readings until the following hour to display to you. Sounds weird but it happens. Sometimes we'll get the observations more than once an hour if the wind changes a certain direction, there's criteria for this. But generally, the once an hour rule applies for the temperatures we're getting here at KSL to display to you.
Anyway, hopefully that helps to understand why we won't be moving the official thermometer but you can certainly look at other temperature sites around town.
Answered by KSL Meteorologist Dina Freedman.