In following the rainfall accumulations over the last few days, there is an enormous discrepancy between rainfall amounts published in the printed News & Observer and at Weather Underground. The problems lie with the latter (appropriate verbiage, wouldn’t you say?).
Anyone with a rain gauge can tell you that Wednesday’s torrential rainfall, especially at 9am, produced more than just 0.27″ of rain. They can also tell you that we got more than just 1.37″ of rain on Friday. The rain was so hard that it awakened us at one point, and from reports, these rains were not spotty. The result is an approximate 50% misreporting of rainfall accumulations. Note that both sources claim to report the RDU Airport readings.
Note also that the N&O’s Actual Month To Date gauge (found on the last page of the Local section) reads 4.66″ while in Thursday’s paper it read 0.57″. According to that statistic this event must have produced 4.09″ of rain, much closer to wunderground’s tally than the N&O’s daily tally.
The problem here is that people likely pay attention to just two statistics, Year to Date (a very arbitrary measure) and Yesterday’s Precipitation. The conclusion many would make is that:
The conclusion it seems they want us to make is to increase conservation. The only way to do that is through new laws restricting use. This sentiment is echoed repeatedly through the editorial page and smacks of class warfare and jealousy. Some have even iterated that in periods of water surplus citizens are “not responsible enough” with water and restrictions such as odd/even day watering should become permanent law. While it is not smart to waste treated water (that required energy to produce), the truth is that we have a small to moderate deficit of rain. Here are some facts:
In the worst case scenario, the 90-day period, we’ve gotten 71% of the normal rainfall total. August and September were clearly the months that threw us off. While we still need to conserve water somewhat, the Water Nazi’s case is not improved by misreports of actual rainfall.
Channing Crowder, a linebacker for the Miami Dolphins who grew up in Atlanta and played at the University of Florida, revealed today that he is now excited that he won’t need a translator when his team plays in London this week.
No, I’m not talking about the dusting of snow that paralyzed Raleigh a few years ago. I’m referring to the sheer panic over the “severe drought” we’re experiencing. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a federal agency, the Raleigh area is at a 1.2″ deficit on 365-day rainfall. Because we normally get 41.43 inches (avg of last 30 years) of annual rainfall, we have received 97.1% of our total normal annual rainfall.
One misleading aspect of this argument, admittedly, is the rainfall of November, 2006, one of Raleigh’s wettest. In the month that usually is our 3rd driest with 2.98″, we received 9.03″, about 3X normal. The current reservoir problems are most likely due to low rainfall in the last 2 months. During August and September we get 7.21″ normally, but only got 3.13″, or 43% of the normal rainfall for the period. We were above average in each of June and July with 22% excessive rainfall.
With just a couple of months of abnormal rainfall, we should not be in as bad shape as our leaders purport. Either the truth is not being reported or our water is being mismanaged. If reservoirs are so low, why are we not investing money to make the capacities bigger while we have access?
So if we get 1.2″ of rain one day will the Water Nazi’s call off the dogs? Don’t hold your breath as jealousy reigns supreme. Those with sprinkler systems, cars worth cleaning, and automatic washing machines will continuously be attacked while those same water molecules on which we’re currently low will stay contained in a closed system. It would be one thing if we had been running a deficit for months, however all this water restriction talk began early in the summer. At that point we were running a more than 10″ surplus.
Here’s the data for the last 12 complete months. Make what you will of it.
With all this talk about the tropical storm, the fact that we will tie the record for 90 degree days in a year today is lost. The high is 92 and that will make 72 days in the year of 90+ temps; tying the record set in 1953. It looks like we’ll smash that record, too, as highs Monday and Tuesday are in the 90′s.