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Katharine And The 100 Year Rain Events.

November 27, 2011
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Readers will recall the interview with Yale 360, when Katharine Hayhoe, Associate Professor of  Atmospheric Sciences at Texas Tech University claimed that increasing winter temperatures in Texas were a sign of climate change. As we discovered, Katharine was not telling the whole story. (For those who missed this, the full report is here).

In the interview she went on to say “our weather is becoming much more extreme, where it’s either feast or famine. I’ve been here ( in Lubbock, Texas) for five years and in five years we’ve had the longest dry period on record, we’ve had the record drought that we’re in right now, and we’ve had two 100-year rain events.”

So what do the records for this part of West Texas tell us?

  

The closest USHCN station to Lubbock is Crosbyton, which is just 33 miles to the east. The following USHCN graph shows the distribution of daily precipitation for each year since 1890.

 

As can be seen, there was one day of high rainfall in 2008. Station records show this occurred on 12th September, when 5.75” was recorded.

http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/orders/IPS-40677E9A-E10F-4DBA-A28D-047598E7036B.pdf

 

However the graph also shows 4 other days of 5” + in the previous century, so this event can hardly been described as a “100 year event”. There is certainly no indication of a second such event in the last 5 years. What is also apparent is that the last decade shows absolutely no sign at all of a higher than average number of “high rainfall” days. Indeed the opposite seems to be the case.

Maybe I am cherry picking! So let’s have a look at the next two stations that are closest to Lubbock.

 

 

 

Muleshoe is 66 mile NW of Lubbock, while Plainview is 37 miles NE, so the three USHCN stations seem to have got Lubbock fairly well surrounded.

Can anybody see any 100 year events in the last 5 years? Or any increase in extreme rainfall patterns? Good, because I can’t either.

I should point out that Lubbock did experience record rainfall of 7.8” on 12th September 2008, though clearly this was a pretty localised event. However according to the National Weather Service, this was not caused by “climate change”. In their own words “Moisture brought in from Tropical Storm Lowell in the Pacific Ocean, low lying moisture and a front combined to create the flood”.

WeatherUnderground archives confirm that no other high rainfall days have occurred in Lubbock in the last 7 years.

 

So it appears that as far as Texas is concerned anyway, temperatures and rainfall patterns are much the same as throughout the last century. If this a sign of climate change, as Katharine suggests, we obviously don’t have much to worry about.

2 Comments
  1. November 28, 2011 8:21 am

    Great job, Paul! It’s amazing how many people will just believe jibberish that comes out of people just because they proclaim it so.

    • November 28, 2011 10:38 pm

      I think Katharine was genuinely surprised when one or two of us showed we knew how get this sort of data from NCDC and USHCN sites to check what she was claiming.

      That’s why she kept changing her story.

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