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If Precipitation Extremes Are Increasing, Why Aren’t Floods?

April 23, 2019

By Paul Homewood



According to David Attenborough’s “Climate – Change The Facts”, climate change is making floods much worse:




This must have surprised the IPCC who found no evidence of that whatsoever in 2013:






Note as well that although flooding in India and other parts of Asia, this was in comparison to megadroughts in the past.


In theory, a warmer atmosphere should be able to hold more moisture, and therefore lead to heavier rainfall.

Last year, scientists investigated this contradiction, with this paper:




If anything, they argued, flood magnitudes were actually decreasing.


There is one possible explanation not mentioned, and this concerns the definition of “extreme precipitation”, which is only a relative term.

In areas that are normally dry, heavy rain is defined as “extreme”, when in reality it simply tops up the water table and fills up the streams.


A classic example is in the US, where ostensibly the area affected by extreme rainfall has shot up since the first half of the 20thC. Below is the graph for the South:



The definition for the index is:


Twice the value of the percentage of the United States with a much greater than normal proportion of precipitation derived from extreme (equivalent to the highest tenth percentile) 1-day precipitation events.



But those early years were marked by regular, severe droughts. And extreme rainfall and droughts are simply opposite sides of the same coin.

In short, what we call “extreme rainfall” is nothing of the sort, and does not lead to flooding.

  1. April 23, 2019 5:27 pm

    See William Hague’s article today April 23 in Daily Telegraph (London) which shows what typical politicians in Westminster have been taugnt to think: unqualified climate alarmism.
    No wonder our costly, wasteful Climate Change Acts (2008,9) are still in force.

    • April 24, 2019 12:29 am

      Yesterday young climate loon William Hague got a kicking in the comments after his telegraph article and on Twitter
      which said “The time for denial is over. Conservatives have to take the climate crisis seriously”.

    • April 24, 2019 12:29 am

      Today : \\Ed Miliband has called on the energy minister to persuade Theresa May to declare a “climate emergency” in the UK.
      The former Labour leader asked Claire Perry about the Extinction Rebellion protests in London over the last week, saying it was “no wonder” activists were taking such a stand given the seriousness of the threat.
      Teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg was watching from the public gallery in the Commons. //

  2. April 23, 2019 6:25 pm

    A lot depends on the definition of a flood. Good drainage might mean a soaking instead of a flood for example, or vice versa with poor drainage.

    Of course the idea is to play on people’s fears and pull the wool over their eyes, so rational thought is not required.

  3. auralay permalink
    April 23, 2019 10:04 pm

    I have just put a nearly identical post on The Bishop Hill site, I think it also needs saying here:-
    Yet another tour de force on this site, and yet again it is a waste of your time and ours. Alas, only those already familiar with reality are aware of this site, let alone actually read it.

    I have bought and read your books and pamphlets and for a long time have been waiting for the catastrophists’ scam to collapse.
    It hasn’t happened; it doesn’t look any closer – indeed it seems further away than it did in 2010.
    Reasoned scientific argument is having the same effect on the green juggernaut as a little gentle pruning has on a Japanese Knot-weed infestation. The roots run awfully deep.
    Even the frequent blackouts in Australia do not seem to get through to many people; this makes me doubt that even the collapse of the grid in the UK or Germany would dent The Narrative.
    Until we figure out how to deprogram the millions of Greta Thunbergs out there, then all the sceptical articles, from your own accessible writing to the dense scientific theses sometimes seen on the websites of Anthony Watts or Judith Curry, are a totally pointless waste of your time and ours.
    Sorry, I do get a little depressed with our descent into Idiocracy! Rant over, time get out the corkscrew and take my medication.

  4. April 23, 2019 10:28 pm

    Right at the start of the programme, Mark Maslin claimed that floods are increasing:

    “Greater storms, greater floods, greater heatwaves, extreme sea-level rise”

    This was followed immediately by Michael Mann who said

    “All of this is happening far faster than any of us thought possible”.

    So according to these two climate scientists, something that the IPCC says isn’t happening at all is happening faster than anyone expected.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      April 24, 2019 9:37 am

      I do find it amusing when the alarmists own bible doesn’t support their claims and it is not as if the IPCC is honest or competent.

  5. George L permalink
    April 23, 2019 11:23 pm

    It makes everything worse. Why if not for “climate change” we would be living in the Garden of Eden.

  6. April 24, 2019 12:12 am

    ^:05pm ITV Yorkshire : Calendar second item
    scary scary Global Warming we’ve had a dry spell farmers are worried

    …FFS you nutters it will rain tmw and other days this week
    Farmer “This soil is dry so the seeds won’t germinate until the rain” ..yeh tmw
    and lo RichardBettsy appears “Yes we are in for drier summers”
    Que ? that’s a new story.
    The presenters just move on to the next item
    … I’m guessing that was a forced national item that was dropped into every local news prog.

  7. April 24, 2019 12:14 am

    And the BBC’s near ban on platforming Global Warming activists continues.
    …a couple of rare exceptions
    3:30pm Costing the Earth with Tom Heap
    6:30pm MyTeenage Diary with Chris Packham

    oh and the book of the week on twice a day is the diary of an activist “Losing The Earth”

    oh PR stunt Greta is on bbc1 news 6:20pm

    Next I open a Twitter search page and it immediately starts playing a Greta video at me.

  8. April 24, 2019 12:16 am


  9. rah permalink
    April 24, 2019 6:50 am

    Once again in the US much of the corn belt will be getting their crops in later than usual. This is due to heavy rain in the central and eastern corn belt but in the North western part of the belt it will be due to soil temperatures being too low. Despite the late start last year we had a bumper crop and I bet we will this year also.
    I have a hard time believing the map shown. Texas has been very wet for a number of years running and yet they show no anomaly?

  10. MrGrimNasty permalink
    April 24, 2019 9:35 am

    Are they just better at measuring/capturing ‘extreme’ rainfall events nowadays?

    In the past, before tipping and automated rain gauges, many impressive rain totals would have been missed and not recorded.

    The heaviest rain is often pretty localized – conveyor belts/trains of the heaviest rain often stall/align and hit one point for hours.

    Now we have satellites and scientists can determine over time where the wettest areas are – and the environment agency in the UK, for instance, may then put a new rain gauge at a particularly wet river head or up-slope to warn of potential flood risk downstream. Suddenly UK rainfall records fall!

    They can also use satellites to calculate rainfall over a wide area and find the heaviest falls from an entire storm, rather than randomly relying on rain gauge distribution.

    I also recall a study where massive rocks moved and deposited by UK streams indicated that there must have been downpours in the past far in excess of what we get today.

    And flooding is inherently a very random ‘tipping point’ event, that depends on a lot of chance factors besides heavy rain.

  11. Gerry, England permalink
    April 24, 2019 9:46 am

    I note that two of the authors are from engineering faculties and may be engineers too. I wonder if this report is a case of the authors believing that those making claims about increased precipitation and extreme rainfall are honest and trustworthy when Paul has often shown that they are talking out of their back passage. So out of curiosity they have looked at flooding instances and seen a disconnect but haven’t made the considered that the rainfall claims are not true in the first place.

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