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The density of precipitation stations in Alaska is at least an order of magnitude less than in the contiguous states, mainly due to rugged terrain, climate extremes, sparseness of population centers, and the vast size of the state (1,480,000 km2; 570,000 mi2). As an example, in California (424,000 km2; 163,700 mi2), where a precipitation frequency analysis was recently completed, there is approximately one precipitation gauge for every 50 km2, while in Alaska, there is one precipitation gauge about every 900 km2. Gauge density in California is approximately 18 times greater than it is in Alaska. Although data from 1,653 precipitation stations were potentially available for use in Alaska's recent PFE (Perica et al. 2012), data from only 396 daily and 121 hourly stations were used (one station every 2,863 km2) (Table 1). Stations were also deleted in the California precipitation frequency study. After those deletions, the actual density of stations used in the California analysis was only 13 times greater than the density of stations used in the Alaska analysis.

Table 1

The number and density of total and utilized stations in the 2012 PFE for Alaska, plus the density of daily stations above 1,000 ft (305 m) and 3,000 ft (914 m) in TP 47 (Miller 1963) and Atlas 14 (Perica et al. 2012)

Land areaDensity (1 station per area listed below)
Regionkm2mi2Number of stationskm2mi2
Daily and hourly stations combined 
State of Alaska (AK) ∼ 1,480,000 ∼ 570,000 Total: 1,653 895 345 
Used for PFE: 517 2,863 1,102 
Daily stations 
AK land above 1,000 ft (∼305 m) 740,000 285,000 TP 47: 26 28,462 10,962 
Atlas 14: 134 5,522 2,127 
AK land above 3,000 ft (∼915 m) 251,600 96,900 TP 47: None None None 
Atlas 14: 10 25,160 9,690 
Land areaDensity (1 station per area listed below)
Regionkm2mi2Number of stationskm2mi2
Daily and hourly stations combined 
State of Alaska (AK) ∼ 1,480,000 ∼ 570,000 Total: 1,653 895 345 
Used for PFE: 517 2,863 1,102 
Daily stations 
AK land above 1,000 ft (∼305 m) 740,000 285,000 TP 47: 26 28,462 10,962 
Atlas 14: 134 5,522 2,127 
AK land above 3,000 ft (∼915 m) 251,600 96,900 TP 47: None None None 
Atlas 14: 10 25,160 9,690 

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