Friday Five: Updates to A Brief History of Midtown Phoenix

In this installment of The Friday Five, it’s time to dust off the slides and update A Brief History of Midtown Phoenix

Back in April 2019, I prepared and delivered my lecture, A Brief History of Midtown Phoenix. The lecture spanned the past 1,500 years of midtown Phoenix history and included a survey of Midtown’s buildings. The thesis of that lecture is that the abrupt end of World War II in August 1945 caught Phoenix and Arizona leaders by surprise, thus setting up developers to build a new city that fit what they wanted. That was the North Central Avenue corridor, which is what we now call midtown Phoenix.

In the two years since that lecture’s creation, there have already been a few things that need revising as Midtown’s changed or as recent scholarship has found new details. In that spirit of continuous improvement, and also because it’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these, here’s my Friday Five of revisions to A Brief History of Midtown Phoenix.

A quick content warning: One of the items contains news and subject matter that may be distressing to Native Americans. As a courtesy, the content of this point is after the jump.

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Hunga Tonga volcano pressure wave

The 15 January 2022 eruption of the Hunga Tonga volcano had some interesting effects felt thousands of miles away

Early in the morning of 15 January 2022 (Phoenix time), the Hunga Tonga volcano erupted in the south Pacific Ocean. Tsunami warnings were issued for the coasts of the Pacific Ocean. As of the time of this writing (Sunday morning, 16 January 2022), there’s no word yet on damages to nearby Tonga.

Of considerable interest is that the eruption created a giant atmospheric pressure wave that traveled around the world. That pressure anomaly hit the weather station I have perched atop a building in midtown Phoenix, which you can see in the image. I believe the time of the +0.02 inHg anomaly matches up with when other sensors in the area saw that pressure wave.

Daryl Herzmann, who maintains the impeccable Iowa Environmental Mesonet (which I’ve written about before), tweeted out this graphic showing the pressure wave marching across the United States (EDIT, Sunday evening: a second graphic is below, and is objectively awesome):

The National Weather Service office in Phoenix noted the pressure anomaly as well. Their instruments, working in concert with other NWS offices, found two different pressure waves.

And finally, for a good overview of the entire event, Scott Manley offers this video:

Weather Websites: IEMbot

Want a rolling feed of National Weather Service warnings and watches for an area? Check out the IEMBot Monitor!

As we’re getting some actual weather in the Phoenix metro area this summer, I thought I’d share some of my online weather resources that I use to keep track of weather events.

My favorite site is the IEMBot Monitor. It’s run by the Iowa State University’s Iowa Environmental Mesonet program. But don’t worry: It’s not just for weather for Iowa! On the IEMBot Monitor, you can pick a National Weather Service local office and get a running list of weather watch or warning products issues for that particular area.

If you’re in Phoenix, you’ll want to select “[psrchat] Phoenix” from the Available Rooms picker and you’ll get a running list of the weather products

I should say at this point that this isn’t a substitute for getting severe weather alerts, just another tool to have in your tool belt.

Sketching the future

One of the big projects I’ve been working on this year is a wholesale redesign and reconfiguration of my personal website.

A pen on top of a piece of paper sketching out the new iteration of this website

One of the big projects I’ve been working on this year is a wholesale redesign and reconfiguration of my personal website. This sketch is just a bit of the many sheets of 13×19 paper and many whiteboard sketches for what this site will become.

Behind the Weather Dashboard

Editor’s note: Due to ongoing systems and networking upgrades, the weather dashboard is temporarily offline.

The second COVID-19 vaccine knocked me out for a couple of days, so while I was recuperating from that, I created a Grafana dashboard with data from my weather station. The station is perched atop a building in midtown Phoenix. The dashboard is still quite a work in progress, but I’m pleased thus far with how it’s coming along.

For those who aren’t in the IT world, Grafana is a software platform that creates visual dashboards from various sources, including time series databases (TSDBs). TSDBs work by collating discrete metrics over time, and they’re usually found in the world of information technology. Instead of network I/O or CPU usage, the principle works for weather statistics: At this time, it was this temperature or the wind speed was that.

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February 2021 Weather Almanac

With February 2021 now in the books, it’s time to rewind on the past twenty-eight days to see what weather we had in midtown Phoenix.

With February 2021 now in the books, it’s time to rewind on the past twenty-eight days to see what weather we had in midtown Phoenix. From the roof of a tower in Midtown Phoenix, here are the weather statistics from a dry and average month:


  • Highest: 84.6º F / 29.2º C, February 2nd 3:59pm
  • Lowest: 63.3º F / 17.4º C, February 28th
  • High temperatures above 75º F / 23.9º C: 9 days
  • High temperatures above 80º F / 26.7º C: 4 days


  • Highest: 64.0º F / 17.8º C, February 3rd
  • Lowest: 43.5º F / 6.4º C, February 15th 6:51am
  • Low temperatures below 50º F / 10º C: 18 days


  • Total February 2021 rainfall: 0.00 inches
  • Cumulative 2021 rainfall: 0.84 inches / 2.1 cm
  • Peak wind gust: 25.1 mph / 34.6 kph, February 15th 7:14pm

Please note that these data are not the official Phoenix weather statistics. The official Phoenix weather is taken at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport by the Phoenix office of the National Weather Service.

For all the latest weather from Midtown Phoenix, visit

The Home Server

The past year has brought upheaval, but it’s given me a good space to rethink my computing portfolio. Join me on Fridays as I share discoveries and new things

Over this past year of COVID-19 lockdowns, I’ve taken the opportunity to re-conceptualize my personal (and business) IT portfolio. Prior to the pandemic, I was rather haphazard about things. Even though I espoused the benefits of having a master plan and having things fit into that plan, in practice for my personal IT estate at least, it was a different story. I focused on getting things stood up quickly rather than robustly. It worked, but it sometimes incurred a price.

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