The Terribly Tenacious Trough


Humans are prone to emotional conclusions like “the weather has gone crazy”. Last year at this time, even with the normal rainfall in the north half of the state, many asserted that California was in “new normal” permanent drought. The far above normal rainfall throughout the state this year shows that this sentiment is clearly wrong, but the same folks who set forth permanent drought will now assert unprecedented “crazy rain”.

We have done a series of posts on the drought in California using data from San Francisco that dates back to 1850. Here we present a look at the same data looking at high rainfall years in the same data set to evaluate how crazy this year really is.

SF Cumulative 2016-17

Perhaps this year’s trough is not so terribly tenacious after all. The season is not over and the tingling in my own bones is that it will be a wet spring, like many I remember from the seventies. Nevertheless, if I were a betting man, I would bet that this year will top out below the five previous years shown. If this season dries out, there will be more years to add above this year.

The point here is that the “ridiculously resilient ridge” that led to four consecutive years of below normal rainfall in California did not produce any individual years of record drought. If the terribly tenacious trough does the same in reverse, where are we?

As we have always been; naked apes staring into the sunrise. Is God punishing us?

If you want to project your guilt onto statistical noise, you go.

I’m going with the data.

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