The first publication resulting from the Precipitation Trends in Alaska project is now available. Many studies have examined how precipitation is changing in Alaska, but unfortunately some studies showed increases while others showed decreases. How is it possible that these studies come to such different conclusions? What is it about Alaska's precipitation record that makes it so challenging to detect trends? The first of two publications addressing these questions is now available. In this paper readers will not only learn more about the challenges associated with using weather station data to identify precipitation trends, but will also gain insight on how best to use these data.