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Climate Background

Yucca with snowHow is climate related to watershed management?

Weather has a large influence on our day-to-day activities as well as our comfort. More important from the perspective of watershed management, it is through the hydrologic cycle that water enters and leaves watersheds. The hydrologic cycle, powered by the energy of the sun, involves day-to-day patterns in precipitation as well as long term cycles and variations in these patterns – weather and climate, respectively.

What is climate? What is weather? What’s the difference?

Weather is the set of temperature and precipitation conditions we experience at a given time, from hour to hour or day to day, in a particular location. The climate of an area averages the weather conditions over many years. Climate also takes into account extremes and how likely extremes are to occur from year to year.

Some examples:

  • High of 78 F today – weather
  • Flagstaff receives about 100 inches of snow annually – climate
  • A tornado in Texas – weather
  • Today’s high temperature in Tucson, 100 oF, was well over the average of 77 oF – weather (today’s temperature) and climate (long-term average of 77 F)


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