Sparseness of permanent population, little human use of the area, and inaccessibility of the terrain have led to a scarcity of reliable weather records. Students and aficionados of mountain weather and climate always bemoan the paucity of weather instruments and observers at high elevations. Figure 1.4 shows the locations and elevations for weather stations in and immediately adjacent to the White Mountains. Table 1.2 gives the average monthly and annual temperatures for these stations, and Table 1.3 lists the corresponding precipitation data. Unfortunately, there are gaps in the records from most of the stations, especially during extreme weather events when such data can be very useful. Most reliable is Bishop (see Fig. 1.4), at 4,108 ft (1,250 m) in Owens Valley to the west of the White-Inyo Range, operated by the National Weather Service since 1947. The other stations are maintained by cooperative agencies, institutions, or individuals. The only continuous records from within the mountains proper are from stations operated by the White Mountain Research Station (WMRS) — White Mountain I in the valley of Crooked Creek, at 10,150 ft (3,095 m), and White Mountain II on the east slope of Mt. Barcroft, at 12,470 ft (3,800 m). Regrettably, maintenance costs and problems have closed White Mountain II during the winter months from January 1980 to the present, and the record from White Mountain I stopped after 1977. Automated weather-recording equipment is now being installed in the White Mountains by the WMRS. Dyer, at 4,975 ft (1,517 m) in Fish Lake Valley, and Deep Springs College, at 5,225 ft (1,593 m) in Deep Springs Valley, are representative of the lowland valleys to the east and southeast of the mountains. Benton, 5,377 ft (1,640 m), and Basalt, 6,358 ft (1,940 m), to the northwest and
north of the mountains have incomplete records and were little used in this climatic analysis. Unless otherwise noted in the tables, the period of record is from 1956 through 1985; 30 years is generally considered by climatologists to be the minimum length of time necessary to establish meaningful averages.
Following is a summary of three important components of weather and climate in and around the White Mountains: temperature, precipitation, and wind. Data from the above-mentioned stations serve as a basis for the discussion. Monthly average temperatures are calculated by averaging the daily maximum readings for the month, averaging the daily minima, adding these two totals, and dividing by 2. In the following discussion, winter includes December, January, and February; spring March, April, and May; summer June, July, and August; and fall September, October, and November. Both authors of this chapter have many years of direct observation
of weather events in the White Mountains and have used personal experience and knowledge to augment interpretation of the formal record, especially in the large portions of the range not covered by the recorded data.