Severe Rainfall Irregularities at the N&O

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?).

Day WU N&O
Wed 1.72 0.27
Thu 0.08 0.07
Fri 2.19 1.37
Sat 0.37 0.37
TOT 4.36 2.08

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:

  • we have a serious rainfall deficit and,
  • we didn’t get enough rainfall “yesterday” to help

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.

Meet Frank Caliendo

Incredible Madden imitator also does Bush as well as anyone.

NFL Player Learns No Need for Translator in London

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.

Social Butterflies

I have a patient who runs a neat little free email newsletter that women, especially, would really like. It’s called “Social Butterflies” and it features fun things to do and places to shop. One issue, for example, featured heads-ups on Crowder Park Nature Classes, Roots of NC Music classes, Family Movie Festivals, Lazy Daze info, and info about Padoodles, a Fuquay-Varina kids’ boutique. To sign up for the newsletter, email

DIY Dentistry

Socialized medicine in England is like pulling (your own) teeth.

Panic Over One Inch

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.

OCT 2.86 3.47
NOV 2.98 9.03
DEC 3.24 3.00
JAN 3.48 3.12
FEB 3.69 1.74
MAR 3.77 3.52
APR 2.59 3.88
MAY 3.92 1.43
JUN 3.68 4.46
JUL 4.01 4.94
AUG 4.02 0.91
SEP 3.19 2.22
TOTAL 41.43 41.72

VH #1

pic-0087.jpgMy mother has always been a huge Boston fan. So, when they played at Carter Stadium on June 2, 1979, I got to go with my mother to see my favorite band. Boston is good, but this band that opened for them, Van Halen, was awesome. Van Halen II had just been released and “Dance The Night Away” was a new hit on the radio. We didn’t know anything about the band but it was apparent that “this Van guy is a total jerk…but his guitar player is good!”

10,346 days later, I finally got to see Van Halen again. This time it was in Greensboro for the highly anticipated reunion of David Lee Roth with the band, and it didn’t disappoint. There are many YouTube clips from the tour so far, and the good ones still don’t quite do the concert justice. Eddie Van Halen sounds as good as he ever has, and David Lee Roth was impressive. Eddie brought his 16 year-old son, Wolfgang, along to play bass, which ignited yet another controversy in the band’s history (longtime bassist Michael Anthony claims he found out about the tour and lineup change on the internet, even). Nevertheless, Wolfgang played all the notes correctly and did a good job of not distracting us from watching EVH, my favorite musician in history.

The playlist was exactly the same as it has been in other shows; 4-6 songs from each of the first six Van Halen albums. I was surprised to see how well received “Jamie’s Cryin'” was. Equally surprising was the silence from the crowd after “I’ll Wait”. Perhaps they were tired from the frenzy stirred after every single other song. I think I would rather have heard “Drop Dead Legs” instead. (Of course D.O.A. would have been more perfect, but who’s complaining?)

The sheer enormity of the event was overwhelming. There are so many story lines going with this tour. A not so exhaustive list includes: the impressive rapport between Roth and EVH, the father/son dynamics with EVH and Wolfgang, the potential “move over kid” moments with Wolfgang and Roth, the hook-shaped runway which trapped some lucky ticketholders inside the band at times, the Valerie Bertinelli angle on EVH/Wolfgang, the recent rehab situation with EVH, the trademarked giant equipment of EVH, the sheer presence and skill of EVH, the absurdly large drum kit of Alex Van Halen, the history of concerts in the Greensboro Coliseum, the INCREDIBLE seats that I happened to get for the nearly sold-out show through Ticketmaster just 10 days before the show, the importance of this music on my adolescence, the incredibly long time I waited to see this band, the unlikelihood that one gets to see their favorite band play only old stuff, and the presence of a former bandmate of mine there to see my guitar hero as well…to name a few.

Well, that does it. There are plenty of bands that I want to see, but none left to dream about. Bring on the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Bring on The Bravery. They’ll be good but nothing will probably ever carry the weight that the reunited, fresh Van Halen did.