Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Soggy August of ‘07

The National Weather Service (NOAA) announces that more rain has fallen in Madison, Wisconsin this August than in any month since records begin in 1871. Officially 11.03 inches of precipitation besting the prior measurement of 10.93 inches in July, 1950. With nine more days and heavy rains forecast for at least the next two days, the soggy August of ’07 will most likely set a long standing benchmark.

Interestingly, NOAA also has a report out projecting - “Lake Superior may hit record low levels this fall” - based on their super-advanced computer modeling of lake water behavior. I guess they believe all this water dumped on Wisconsin will be flowing out entirely down the Mississippi. Please note the precision of their proudly trumpeted prediction.

NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory is able to forecast lake levels 12 months in advance using current hydrological conditions combined with NOAA’s long-term climate outlooks. … “it looks as though the water levels may continue to plunge," said Cynthia Sellinger, deputy director of NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Mich. "NOAA's lake level forecasts predict that there is a 15 to 20 percent probability that new monthly records will be set sometime this fall."

So where was the 12 month advanced notice of soggy August? Weather is a chaotic dynamic system that can not be predicted with much short term accuracy and certainly not with any long term validity. I appreciate the meticulous recording of real events which then serves to put months like this one into historical context. I am, however, pretty tired of tax paid professionals playing with digital animation pretending they create anything of value.