Los Angeles Instances Misrepresents California Central Valley “Climate” as “Local weather” • Watts Up With That?

Guest essay by Larry Hamlin

The LA Times article shown below addresses recent heat, drought and flood weather related events of California’s Central Valley and falsely portrays them as being cause by “climate change” (code actually intended to mean “man-made climate change”) while at the same time using climate alarmist hyperbole to mischaracterize these weather events.

Climate is defined by the World Meteorological Organization as representing the variability of average weather conditions including temperature, precipitation, wind, etc. over long time periods which WMO typically defines as an interval of 30 years.

The LA Times article starts with a discussion of recent March 2023 rainstorms in Tulare County which it portrays with alarmist hyperbole as:

“Outside, torrential downpours — the likes of which some lifelong residents of his small Tulare County town had never seen — filled rivers, clogged storm drains and sent water gushing through streets and into people’s homes.”

This anecdotal hype is cast as representing a “climate change” driven result impacting the California Central Valley without, of course, providing any actual measured weather data to support its hype which is typical of the LA Times climate alarmist propaganda campaign articles.

The NOAA graph below displays the precipitation data for Tulare County California showing annual rainfall levels over the period from 1895 through September 2023.

This readily available NOAA scientific measured data ignored by the LA Times shows that the March 2023 Tulare County rainfall of 8.89 inches is well within the normal range experienced by Tulare County and far below the maximum recorded rainfall year of January 1969 of 16.84 inches. This normal rain outcome (based on historical data records) is certainly not, as the LA Times falsely portrays, an event “the likes of which some lifelong residents of this small Tulare County town had never seen”. 

More alarmist hyperbole is used later in the LA Times article where claims of excessive “climate change” driven rainfall and heat are also inferred for the San Joaquin Valley where the LA Times article notes: 

“The floods arrived following three years of severe drought, while extreme heat, lung-searing smog have become all-too-common occurrences.”  

“Experts say it’s not just bad luck that has made the San Joaquin Valley one of the front lines of climate change in America.” 

Again, as usual the LA Times article provides no measured scientific data to support its alarmist hyperbole concerning the rain, drought, and temperatures in the San Joaquin Valley.

The graph shown below presents NOAA precipitation data for the San Joaquin Valley for the period 1895 through September 2023. 

The NOAA data shows that the recent San Joaquin Valley rainfall is well within normal ranges experienced by that region with the January 2023 amount of 7.09 inches (with that amount having occurred in numerous prior years including January 2017 at 7.44 inches) well below the peak of 10.59 inches in January 1911 meaning the 2023 resulting floods that occurred clearly have also been experienced in prior time periods.  

Neither the Tulare County nor San Joaquin County NOAA measured rainfall data shows anything supporting phony “climate emergency” claims driven by “climate change” as hyped by climate alarmists regarding this region.

The LA Times article completely fails to address the very well established and long history of significant drought and flood weather events in California and the Western U.S. (as discussed in the article shown below ) which occurred well before the “blame every weather event on climate change” politically contrived incompetence became in vogue as falsely portrayed by climate alarmists.

The Lithograph image displayed in the photo above represents the Great Flood of 1861-1862 that affected the Western U.S. including California, Oregon, Idaho. Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico and shows the City of Sacramento in the middle of the resulting “Great Flood” river. 

The floods were created by atmospheric rivers of rain coming off the Pacific Ocean (as illustrated below) which of course continues in present times as well. These “rivers” have been around the Western U.S. for centuries.

There were no climate alarmists around back then to blame these natural climate events on man-made climate change as would be the case today.

The results of these storms in the California Central Valley created a massive lake with the entire Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys being inundated in a 300 mile long and 20-mile-wide lake with a depth of up to 30 feet.

The same article also presents the results a study evaluating the more than 1,000 year long pattern of drought climate event history of the Western U.S.as shown below with 100 year+ long drought periods determined to have occurred in the past with present major droughts far less severe.

None of this prior extensive flood and drought climate behavior in the Western U.S. is addressed by the LA Times article since these events don’t fit into its alarmist “climate change” driven hyperbole.

The LA Times hyperbole of “extreme heat” and “severe drought” in the San Joaquin Valley being all to “common occurrences” implies that this is something new to this region and of course it must be because of “man-made climate change”. These claims are also false as shown by NOAA measured data which is, of course, unaddressed by the LA Times. 

The NOAA graph shown below shows the history of all monthly maximum temperatures for the San Joaquin Valley from 1895 to September 2023.

The data clearly show that the pattern of maximum temperatures is consistent throughout this entire period with the highest maximum temperature occurring in July 1931 during the “1930s dust bowl era” then followed July 2017, July 1906, July 1926, etc. and spread out over the entire 1895 to 2023 period.

Likewise NOAA data showing the history of drought in the San Joaquin Valley (provided below) for the period from 1895 to September 2023 does not support the LA Times inference of increasing drought severity in the San Joaquin Valley which is clearly a region having a long history of extensive occurrences of droughts.

The PDSI index (where wet is colored green and drought is colored orange) shows significant San Joaquin Valley drought durations of over 7 years between 1927 to 1935, over 4 years from 1946 to 1950, 4 years from 1958 to 1961, 7 years from 1986 to 1992, 3 years from 2006 to 2009, 4 years from 2011 to 2015 and 3 years from 2019 to 2022.

The LA Times article also hypes “climate change” driven extreme heat in the Central Valley and notes that “Already, Fresno saw 65 days over 100 degrees last year” but again fails to provide any readily available NOAA measured temperature data records over the last 100 years.

Provided below is NOAA monthly maximum temperature data for Fresno over the period from 1895 to September 2023.

The data show consistent maximum temperature patterns over the entire period with monthly temperatures over 100 degrees F occurring for the last 43 years between July 1981 to July 2023 with the highest temperature occurring in July 2021 at 103.3 F which was only 0.1 F above the prior high in July 2006 of 103.2 F. This pattern of maximum temperatures does not represent a “climate emergency” driven by alarmists flawed claims of “climate change”.

The NOAA monthly maximum temperature data for the state of California shown below also shows a consistent pattern of outcomes during the period from 1895 to September 2023.

The highest maximum monthly temperature for California occurred in July 1931 during the dust bowl period of the 1930s at a temperature of 95.6 degrees F which is 1.4 F above the next highest California maximum temperature of 94.2 F of July 2006. 

The LA times continues its climate science measured data deficient alarmist propaganda campaign which is devoid of readily available NOAA long time period temperature and other highly relevant measured climate science data which the Times ignores because this data does not support its alarmist propaganda campaign claims.

The LA Times article discussion regarding excessive San Joaquin Valley and other Central Valley areas water use, agriculture development, land use, ground water pumping, etc. are consequences of population growth and inadequate state and local community political oversight that further aggravate the regions available water, land use capabilities and other limited resources. The LA Times article attempts to portray these issues as being driven by “climate change” which is incorrect and unsupported in the article.

The LA Times articles failure to even mention the monumental “Great Flood of 1861-1862” with its 300-mile-long river covering the entire Central Valley as well the Western U.S. extensive and century long droughts from the past is incomprehensible.

The LA Times prior articles falsely claiming that July through August 2023 was the “hottest summer ever” is addressed here and shown below.

These flawed summer of 2023 claims have been shown to be false based on NOAA maximum temperature data measurement that climate alarmists failed to address and evaluate as was the case with the many claims of “extreme heat” that were claimed in the LA Times California Central Valley article discussed in this post.    

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