June 07, 2022

More Miscommunication from The Seattle Times

 I am getting tired of writing about the Seattle Times, but their miscommunication is simply getting worse, and I think you should know about it.

Take the front page of the online Seattle Times yesterday.   There is a big picture showing a dry-looking scene in eastern Washington with a headline that eastern Washington will face another summer of sparse water supplies (see below).

The problem?  Their headline is not true.  The evidence is clear and definitive.


After a very wet, cool spring, the soil moisture is above normal for most of eastern Washington, including much of the dryland farming region, where wheat and barley are grown.  Here is a picture taken in the Palouse last week by the very talented professional photographer Jack Graham.   Look any different from the picture in the Seattle Times?


There is near normal soil moisture in the desert area from Yakima/Tri-Cities towards Moses Lake, where most farming uses irrigation.

Soil moisture with green being above normal

What about the water supplies for irrigation?   The Yakima River reservoirs are way above normal in stored water and the Columbia River water forecasts are excellent (see below).   Plenty of water for irrigation agriculture and even farmers with junior rights will be taken care of. Snowpack is well above normal.  Rivers are above normal.


In short, the headline in the Seattle Times does not reflect reality and provides another example of the paper poorly informing its readership.

But poor Seattle Times journalism doesn't end with false water shortages in eastern Washington.

Also on the Seattle Times front page was a story that Colorado will lose half its snow by 2080 and look like Arizona.    The research paper making these extreme claims has all kinds of technical problems, including the use of totally unrealistic assumptions for increases in greenhouse gases (RCP8.5).   Furthermore, the models used do not have sufficient resolution to properly simulate the convective (thunderstorm) warm-season showers of the region, and how such showers will change under global warming.


The Seattle Times is always running "stories" about the importance of local journalism.    I do believe that responsible, accurate local journalism is very important.   How sad that Seattle Times hype, exaggeration, and advocacy, coupled with demonstrably wrong information, is making a statement against the value of local newspapers.

32 comments:

  1. if they only used data, it would be easier to prove "too wet" than their fake drought reports. While there are 2 counties down on rainfall, all the other indicators are pretty easy to view and groan at this reporting. Example, soil moisture per USDA. https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/wcc/home/quicklinks/imap#version=158&elements=&networks=!&states=!&basins=!&hucs=&minElevation=&maxElevation=&elementSelectType=any&activeOnly=true&activeForecastPointsOnly=false&hucLabels=false&hucIdLabels=false&hucParameterLabels=true&stationLabels=&overlays=&hucOverlays=2&basinOpacity=75&basinNoDataOpacity=25&basemapOpacity=100&maskOpacity=0&mode=data&openSections=dataElement,parameter,date,basin,options,elements,location,networks&controlsOpen=true&popup=&popupMulti=&popupBasin=&base=esriNgwm&displayType=basin&basinType=6&dataElement=SMS&depth=-8&parameter=PCTPORMED&frequency=DAILY&duration=I&customDuration=&dayPart=E&year=2022&month=5&day=18&monthPart=E&forecastPubMonth=5&forecastPubDay=1&forecastExceedance=50&seqColor=1&divColor=7&scaleType=D&scaleMin=&scaleMax=&referencePeriodType=POR&referenceBegin=1991&referenceEnd=2020&minimumYears=20&hucAssociations=true&lat=45.230&lon=-114.698&zoom=6.5

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's similar in many "indexes" and reports, including the IPCC climate report. Experts define "new" ranges with terms that sound scary, and if one looks closer at actual numbers and probabilities of these new "extreme" definitions, one can see more clearly.

      Delete
  2. and the CapitalPress on May 4 had article that basically tells us why they get this designation...its Money --> "Contiguous counties also eligible in Washington are Adams, Ferry, Grant, Okanogan, Spokane,Stevens and Whitman.
    The natural disaster designation allows the agency to extend "much-needed" emergency credit to producers recovering from natural disasters through emergency loans. Emergency loans can be used to meet various recovery needs including the replacement of essential items such as equipment or livestock, reorganization of a farming operation or the refinance of certain debt https://www.capitalpress.com/ag_sectors/water/washingtons-lincoln-county-designated-drought-disaster/article_bd9e0d3e-cb17-11ec-b931-5bfd487902f6.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, now this makes more sense. It is about $$ for farmers and farming co-ops and the county/state admin.

      Delete
  3. If the U.S. Drought Monitor is claiming moderate to severe drought in central and eastern Washington right now, what are they measuring? If soil moisture is near normal, reservoirs are above normal, and river flows are above normal, then I'm confused as to what defines a "drought."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. there is another article saying, State can declare it based on "forecasts" (which of course are not factual, merely speculation)

      Delete
    2. This is a good question and should be addressed. I'm curious about this as well.

      Delete
  4. thanks for setting the record straight. Do you have similar issues with the NY Times?

    ReplyDelete
  5. I just returned from a trip to north-central Oregon and Washington, driving back roads as well as highways 395, 730, and 12 through lush grain growing regions. It was greener than normal for this time of year, and the grain fields look as good or better than I've ever seen them in my years of traveling that area. I agree, farmers and ranchers are looking at a wonderful summer, and with the war in Ukraine that grain will be sorely needed.

    ReplyDelete
  6. We camped in north central Washington this past weekend, and were taken with low lush and green everything looked this time around. My wife even joked about being willing to move there (emphasis on "joked").

    For starters, I hope you're right. We need a break from wildfires. Secondly, I think papers like the Seattle Times are struggling. We need to support them as they fill a valuable niche, but in exchange they need to employee quality scientific and technical writers. There's a shortage of this kind of journalist though. Does UW offer a program or certificate? If not, they should.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi Cliff,
    I knew you would see that story in the ST yesterday. I noticed that comments were not enabled for the story because they re-published it from the Spokesman Review which was authored by one of their "journalists". It is neat trick of theirs to prevent actual discourse on the misinformation they post regularly. It is really sad. ST is able to put these articles out there without the ability of readers to point out the errors in their journalism. I keep my subscription to the ST because I want to stay informed on local news, but the misinformation is making me reconsider my local news sources.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Last i checked they had 6 full time reporters, the rest are "stringers" (basically part time, piece work).

      Delete
    2. It's not true that you don't have the ability to point out their error - you can write a letter to the editors, which they still publish on a regular basis.You can write a blog like Cliff to show their mistakes.

      The Times comment section is/was an absolute cesspool - I don't blame them or any paper for shutting those down. It's not even at a Facebook level. Even if you point out their errors in the comments, what's that going to do besides get drowned out in the piles of garbage comments?

      Delete
  8. Which is preferable? False information or no information?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Looks like the headline was changed to 'What's in store for Eastern WA as water becomes more scarce throughout the West?" This happens all too often since headline writers are rarely the author of the story. At least they revised it.

    So, beyond the headline, what in the story is inaccurate?

    They used a photo that's not current, but captioned it as taken last August ("A combine harvests wheat near Pullman in August."

    The article content doesn't claim current scarcity. It's projecting drier summers in the coming decades, quoting Nick Bond and accurately reporting statuses on the NOAA/NIDIS Drought Monitor dashboard. (https://www.drought.gov/states/washington/county/Lincoln).

    So, to confirm, the issue is just the headline and the photo?

    ReplyDelete
  10. It is clear to me that now a days, wrong is right...down is up...and the global cooling we are in is still narrativized (new non word) as we're all going to burn up and die.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. no- look at the Drought . gov image they use. Its flat out wrong. Shows "Severe Drought" for 90% of Lincoln county (i-90 between spokane and moses lake). That's not even misleading, its a lie.

      Delete
  11. Cliff makes a persuasive case that both these articles, reprinted from the Spokesman Review and Denver Post, do not reflect actual conditions in Washington and Colorado. To me, his complaints are misplaced. Both articles accurately report findings from ’expert sources’ including the US Drought Monitor, the WA state climatologist, a Los Alamos hydrologist, a peer-reviewed academic journal, and the NOAA. Cliff’s real beef is with these sources, not the journalists reporting them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. david..the problems are on both with problematic expert sources, and the headlines and hype in the times that push it...cliff

      Delete
    2. go to the NRDC USDA interactive map, or to climateengine and say pull up grant county or lincoln County. Their source "drought . gov" claims 90% of Lincoln in Sever drought despite all facts pointing to "its moist"

      Delete
  12. Spent last weekend camping on the Yakima river in the canyon. We had rain every day and the hills are so green they reminded me of Ireland. And the river was running high, deep, dirty, and fast.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I agree with you totally. In this case, I find myself wondering if your illustration from the professional photographer is not actually a realistic depiction of current conditions. Those so-called "professionals" rely heavily on software to alter photographs, which means it is no longer a 'photograph' and is instead 'digital art'. Why does that matter? Well, that's a form of miscommunication in itself. People in the comments are commenting on the vegetation, but still, the photo looks altered to me

    ReplyDelete
  14. Who even reads the Seattle times any more anyways? The reporting there has declined all around, not just the climate science stuff.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Once again, my thanks to you, Cliff. I wish (as you do, and no doubt many others) that the hype and hysteria would stop. No one benefits from reporting disfigured by such slant, and of course, much harm is done.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chet, you're actually what I fear Mr. Mass is successful in doing. CREATING MORE AGW DENIERS, simply because of his hatred of the media. The media that said NO to him.

      Delete
    2. and right on cue we have the inevitable crank using Holocaust language to smear and shame anyone who disagrees with their POV.

      Delete
  16. This is getting embarrassing Mr. Mass. "david..the problems are on both with problematic expert sources, and the headlines and hype in the times that push it...cliff"
    Why are you pushing your extremist agenda against the media? Did you vote for Trump too?

    ReplyDelete
  17. It is apparent there are too many people who are too far removed from agriculture!!! The picture of the combine in a grain field was probably taken in August, one of the driest months of the summer in eastern Washington. The picture of the green grain field, with the barn in the foreground, was taken in early June, during the growing phase for grain crops, and thus the green color, versus the brown/yellow color of the mature grain crop during harvest. One cannot determine anything about water supply from a picture of a grain field—Not the Seattle Times or Cliff Mass. In the dryland area, water supply is determined by rain fall and stored soil moisture, and in the irrigated areas water supply is determined by reservoir levels and snowpack in the mountains that melts and fills the reservoirs. It is normal for the dryland areas of eastern Washington to experience low precipitation during the summer months (when harvest happens) and higher precipitation during the fall, winter and spring (when planting and crop growth happens. The dry summers allow for ideal harvest conditions, and are desired by farmers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. except the topic is drought, now. Is it too dry (not about September, today). No indicators support that, yet they roll out an old and intentionally misleading photo. Its not news. The big reservoirs supplying the Yakima river are 110% of normal, soil moisture at Moses Lake are is 103% of normal, temps are lower than normal. There are 2 or 3 counties with much lower rainfall, but all the other indicators are "wet"

      Delete
  18. The weather has become politicized. It's a shame that many universities have brain washed their graduates to put political science over researched science.

    ReplyDelete
  19. We know that weather is not stable, and we should always prepare for, here are some most accurate weather app that will describe you accurate weather condition till you can plan a safe and enjoyful journey. Also you can download these apps from google play store, carrot weather app, Noaa weather radar live, weather bug.

    ReplyDelete
  20. All through 2020 the Times ran "Cops are evil!" headlines on their front page, issue after issue. (Never mind that 3000 times as many innocent Americans are killed through medical error as through police error. Never mind that nearly all the cases of unjust police killings that BLM highlighted in WA state turned out to nothing of the sort -- I researched them for Letter to a "Racist" Nation.)

    Then in 2021 and 2022, the Times begins running "Violent crime soars!" headlines.

    Never recognizing the relationship between cause and effect.

    I don't know what they said inside. I haven't bought that rag for a while.

    ReplyDelete

Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

The Upcoming Inundation of Southern BC and Northern Washington. Plus Thunderstorms!

Southern BC will soon be hit by unusually heavy precipitation for this time of the year.     And conditions before July 4th will be a damp a...