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

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