Katharine’s Imaginary Rain
Katharine Hayhoe, Associate Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas Tech University, claims that in the last 5 years in Lubbock there have been “Two 100 year rain events”. Unsurprisingly, this claim is not supported by the facts.
Back in August, Katharine made a series of claims about supposedly extreme weather in Texas in her interview with Yale Environment 360, republished in the Guardian, which she used as examples of the effects of climate change. Her claims of increasing winter temperatures, extreme rainfall and record droughts have already been shown either to be lacking substance or to be examples of weather that is commonplace in Texas. (Full story here).
In her interview, however, she stated “I’ve been here (in Lubbock) for five years and in five years …… we’ve had two 100-year rain events.”
We have already seen that, although there was one heavy localised storm in Lubbock on 11th Sep 2008, this sort of rainfall was not unusual in West Texas. The local National Weather Service also confirmed that it was caused by “Moisture brought in from Tropical Storm Lowell in the Pacific Ocean, low lying moisture and a front combined to create the flood”. In other words, nothing to do with global warming.
However, the second event she refers to seems to be a bit of a mystery. According to Weather Underground records, since 2004 the next highest day’s rainfall in Lubbock was 83mm on 3rd July 2010. This can hardly be called a “100 year event”, Katharine. This sort of rainfall comes along every couple of years on average in that part of Texas.
Maybe Katharine could enlighten us?
Perhaps before Katharine starts talking about “100 year events” in future, she could do worse than check the weather records. A quick check on Weather Underground for Lubbock between 1980 and 1989 shows the three highest rainfall days were :-
1st Aug 1981 – 191mm
19th Oct 1983 – 137mm
25th July 1985 – 83mm
Bearing in mind the record set in 2008 was 198mm, at best this could be described as a once decade event. As for 83mm, it’s the sort of thing you see every couple of years or so.