NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY
The history of the National Weather Serviceís San Joaquin Valley office dates back more
than 120 years. Its roots can be traced back to the offices in Fresno (later Clovis) and Bakersfield.
In 1887, the Army Signal Corps established an office in downtown Fresno
at Taylor and Fulton Streets. It moved to Broadway Street in 1889. Weather services were
transferred from the Army to the former U.S. Weather Bureau in 1891. A second office was
established on the corner of Barstow and old Highway 99 during the summer of 1929. This
office was co-located with the airport, which moved to Chandler Field during the following
Spring. Both the downtown office and the airport office were consolidated at Chandler Field
in July of 1939.
Up until the summer of 1945, the U.S. Weather Bureau office only catered specifically to
Fresno County. During the remaining part of the decade, the office expanded its forecast
coverage to include Madera, Kings and Tulare counties. Mariposa and Merced counties were
added in June of 1952.
Meanwhile, in August of 1949, the Weather office experienced another move, relocating from
its spot in Chandler Field to the northeast corner of the Fresno Air Terminal. After completion
of new airport facilities in September of 1961, the office again moved to the tower building on
the southwest portion of the Fresno Air Terminal. At the end of January, 1986, the office was
relocated to the corner of Peach Avenue and Dakota Avenue in Clovis.
Weather observations were first recorded in Bakersfield in January 1889, and were taken at the Santa Fe Railway
Station at 14th and F Streets. This was a cooperative station, with observations consisting of maximum and
minimum temperature readings as well as rainfall amounts. The observations continued at this location until
However, in 1926, the Daniel Guggenheim Committee on Aeronautical Meteorology had set up a fund for 30
experimental weather stations between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The idea was to aid pilots as they flew
between these two locations. Bakersfield was one of these experimental stations, with the observers working
from the Airport Administration Building at the Kern County Airport. The stationís purpose was to relay
surface weather information, three times a day, to meteorologists in both Los Angeles and San Francisco.
This information was then relayed to pilots as forecasts and in-flight updates.
The experiment began in June 1928, and continued for one year. Official weather records for Bakersfield began
on September 8th, 1928, at the Kern County Airport (later, County Airport Number 1). During this time, no
weather related accidents occurred. This so impressed the federal government that, even before the year-long
experiment was over, the government stated it would take over the operations; this occurred on July 1st, 1929.
The federal government then set up over 130 locations for weather observations across the country, along air
traffic routes established by the Department of Commerce.
Observations continued at the Administration Building until March 10th, 1958, then moved to the Kern County Air
Terminal at what is now called Meadows Field. The office was within on week of closing in June 1982, but
last-minute Congressional action saved the operation. Money for a new building to house the National Weather
Service was authorized for a location at 1400 Boughton Drive, across the street from the new Air Traffic Control
Tower. Weather Service operations moved to this new location on December 15th, 1983. The space in the Terminal
Building vacated by the Weather Service subsequently became the airport gift shop.
The San Joaquin Valley Weather Forecast Office (1995-present)
During the 1980ís and early 90ís, the staff at the Weather Service Offices (WSO) in Fresno and Bakersfield
did adaptive forecasting, producing local forecasts for Merced, Mariposa, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare, and Kern
Counties from more general forecasts written by forecasters in either Redwood City or Los Angeles. Fresno and Bakersfield
staff also wrote forecasts tailored for the needs of the agricultural industry in Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, and
Kern Counties. Tulare County was covered by a specialized frost-forecasting NWS office in Lindsay from November through
April each year.
The modernization efforts of the National Weather Service began in the 1990s to provide broader forecast coverage
to the entire San Joaquin Valley, the surrounding mountains, and the Kern County desert. Construction of a new office
in Hanford began in the Spring of 1994. The facility officially opened for business on January 25, 1995, and became fully
staffed by September 1st, when spin down operations in the Clovis office were complete. The new NWS Office in Hanford is
co-located with its own Doppler weather radar. In fact, this is the very first radar facility in the San Joaquin Valley.
March 10, 1995 marked the dawning of a new era for the NWS in the San Joaquin Valley, when the first Doppler radar
images were received.
Consolidation efforts continued into the Fall of 1995. On November 1st, the NWS Office
in Bakersfield closed its doors and merged with the office in Hanford. Kern County was
then added to the forecast area served by the Hanford staff. The San Joaquin Valley NWS
office is now more centrally located to better serve its 7-county forecast, area which
includes all of Yosemite National Park.
US Dept of Commerce
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Weather Service
San Joaquin Valley Weather Forecast Office
900 Foggy Bottom Road
Hanford, CA 93230-5236
Tel: (559) 584-3752
Freedom of Information Act