Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Extraordinary Climate Record Broken at Spokane: The Greatest Monthly Precipitation of ALL TIME

There are records and then there are RECORDS.

Yesterday (Monday),  Spokane Airport broke one that left this normally dispassionate meteorologist in a state of amazement:  the  greatest monthly precipitation total for a station that goes back over 120 years (since 1889 to be exact). 

Not the greatest monthly total for October, something true of Seattle and a number of Northwest locations.   But of any month, including the normally wetter months of December and January.


Folks, this is a major record, as noted by the National Weather Service Spokane announcement yesterday (see below).   As of 7:23 AM Monday Spokane had received 6.21 inches, smashing the old record (5.85 inches) set in 1897.


Not all records are created equal

Unlike people, some records are more impressive than others.   Daily records at individual stations get broken all the time.   For example, the highest temperature observed on July 14th at Seattle Tacoma Airport.  A lot of chances to break records at many individual locations.   To give you a taste of this, here are the number of US daily records broken during the past year.  TENS OF THOUSANDS OF THEM.  That is why you should yawn when that media starts hyperventilating about daily records.


These are for daily records for specific days.    A rarer record is the daily record for a month (say the highest daily temperature for any day in a month).  Generally only a few hundred of these in each category (see below)

All time daily records (again for daily observations but for any day of the year) are even rarer:

Only a handful, in comparison.

But these are daily records.  Records for monthly totals are harder to break since there are far less of them and monthly totals average a lot of atmospheric variability.  And to break the monthly record for a station of such a long record  and in October, a month that climatologically is in the driest third of the typical year (see below), is truly amazing.



_____________________________________
Initiative 732 News

Dr. James Hansen, one of the most well-known climate scientists in the U.S., has made a strong statement in favor of 732.  He believe I-732 could be a game changer for the nation and the world.

Some folks have been writing letters to the editor of the Seattle Times and elsewhere, criticizing I-732 with pseudo-scientific arguments that are simply not true.  Well known UW climate and carbon cycle scientists (John Crusius, Richard Gammon, and Steve Emerson), correct the record here.

Yesterday, a group of environmental "heroes" went to Puget Sound Energy (PSE) to protest the utility's heavy use of coal coupled with it large financial contributions to stopping I-732.


Heavy set, black-clothed PSE security forces tried to chase them off of public sidewalks and swiped several of their signs.   Black is appropriate--the color of coal and the dark side of the the Force.  I bet Puget Sound Energy's customers will be delighted to learn that they are paying for anti-environmental advertisements.



11 comments:

JordanP said...

Pretty interesting, and from the "dry" side of the state no less.

Here in Fauntleroy my station recorded 12.64" for October. Not far from SEATAC, but we ended up with a lot more rain. The three other stations that are in the area all show equivalent numbers. This one is one for the record books for sure.

John said...

One thing to also consider when noting the Spokane record is that airport weather stations have been known to under report precipitation due to exposure issues.Sea-Tac is a good example.Here in the Shadle Park area of Spokane,I recorded 6.83"of rain,which was about 10% higher than the official 6.23" airport total.

Mark said...

My monthly total on south Vashon: 11.17 inches.

lange said...

Professor Mass, any comment on the article against I-732 that came out in The Stranger?

http://www.thestranger.com/slog/2016/10/20/24628971/we-believe-you-should-vote-no-on-initiative-732

-Lange, UW SMEA '18

iamlucky13 said...

lange - one point the Stranger article fails to mention is that I-732, although it reduces the regressive sales tax, more than offsets the impact of that on low income households with a far more regressive tax on transportation and home heating.

I've pointed this out twice in these discussions before, yet Professor Mass has continued to promote it. While I respect his meteorology discussion, I'm alarmed by his steadfast promotion of this initiative despite its flaws.

Lest anyone have a concern about I-732 being our only hope, I also point out that the failure of I-732 will not in any way preempt a future carbon tax law that does not penalize low income households while sparing the 1 percenters and big businesses.

sunsnow12 said...

In mid-September, in the seasonal outlook - but more importantly the October outlook specifically - NOAA's Climate Prediction Center forecast the majority of the state of Washington with a probability of "dryer than normal" for the month:

http://komonews.com/weather/scotts-weather-blog/pacific-northwest-stripped-of-its-cooler-than-normal-forecast-for-winter

Given the magnitude of the forecast misses of late, why would the public have any confidence in the current models over any time period of less than a few days?

sunsnow12 said...

In mid-September, in the seasonal outlook - but more importantly the October outlook specifically - NOAA's Climate Prediction Center forecast the majority of the state of Washington with a probability of "dryer than normal" for the month:

http://komonews.com/weather/scotts-weather-blog/pacific-northwest-stripped-of-its-cooler-than-normal-forecast-for-winter

Given the magnitude of the forecast misses of late, why would the public have any confidence in the current models over any time period of less than a few days?

Chris said...

Professor Mass,

Thank you for the valuable information on I-732. Global warming is a tremendous threat to the economy and our children. It is the single most important issue on the WA ballot (WA is so blue that presidential vote is of little consequence). You have motivated me to contribute $2250 and to volunteer for the I-732 campaign. Hopefully WA voters will do the right thing and be the first state to use free-market principles to reduce carbon emissions.

Loved you book and enjoy reading your blog.

Chris

Chris said...

iamlucky13: Last September Professor Mass discussed how the carbon will make WA tax system less regressive.

http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2016/09/will-naive-left-and-self-interested.html

He has also pointed out that the carbon tax should not be held hostage to curing all of our social problems. That will assure that nothing will ever get accomplished. Perhaps you should sponsor an initiative to make WA's tax system less regressive. I would support it.

Colleen said...

I've appreciated the thoughtful responses to Cliff's promotion of I-732. Thanks to all who have taken time to comment. You've collectively helped confirm my "no" vote on this particular initiative.

Ansel said...

I got 11.65 inches of rain on the Bothell-Mill Creek Line in October.

Yes, I don't know how PSE can hold their heads up in a liberal state. They should accept the winds of change, go with the flow, and try to convert to wind and solar or at least more hydro. Or at the very least, just don't lobby, period,