Friday, November 16, 2007

Weather History

Letter-to-the-Editor published in Laguna Beach Independent November 16, 2007 Weather History

Some of my environmental allies act like the weather should be static, consistent and unchanging. It is odd that those interested in the environment do no know about the great diversity in nature and that nature is dynamic given to significant changes. When there are changes, extrapolation of data and assuming an ongoing continuation of the pattern is unscientific.

For example, I have heard it stated that man caused hurricane Katrina in 2005 and heard confident predictions that the intensity of hurricanes would only get worse. However, the last two hurricane seasons have been very tame.

The rainfall in Orange County seems very unusual with over thirty inches two years ago and the last two years closer to three inches. Is it caused by man? No. From the Orange County Register; July 21, 2007: “Weather experts say ocean temperatures will influence rainfall through year-end. La Niña, the weather phenomenon that has led to drought across the western United States, is likely to return by the end of the year, says the World Meteorological Organization.”

The Associated Press, writing about Los Angeles on March 7, 2007, states: “The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s weather models suggest an emerging La Niña pattern…in the tropical Pacific will keep the area dry.”

Is over thirty inches two years ago, and four inches last year unprecedented? No.
I have been reading the book “Reflections in Orange” by Merle & Mabel Ramsey. In it they write: “Starting on Dec 24, 1861 heavy rains hit the area of Orange. It rained almost continually for four months. The Santa Ana River overflowed its banks and water covered the entire basin from the foothills to the coast, to the Coyote Hills. Anaheim was inundated. Many of its buildings crumbled, including the new schoolhouse. Live stock not driven to the hills went down with the swirling torrents.

“In 1862 and 1863 the ‘Great Drought’ hit. There was no rain. The heat seemed constant. In the daytime the sky was like a sheet of brass - at night, a brazen roof. There was no morning dew. The grasslands became barren deserts, the earth like sandstone. Springs became patches of dry sand and bleached rocks.

“Herds of gaunt, skeleton-like cattle moved slowly over the parched land searching for water and food. One by one they became too weak to move and stood motionless until they toppled over. Dry water holes became rimmed with carcasses piled one upon the other.” [Page 31-32]

Gene Felder
Laguna Beach


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