Phoenix flooding – not due to 'climate change', extreme rainfall events are not on the increase

Ah the alarmists are out in full force today over a rainstorm. The Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix reported 2.96 inches of rain before 8:30 a.m. local time, beating the old record of 2.91 inches on Sept. 4, 1939. Parts of Interstate 10 were flooded, with the morning rush hour just beginning. Schools closed for the day, and police asked people to stay off the roads. At least 13,000 homes and businesses lost power.

From the NWS Phoenix:

But, there is just no climatic trend as Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. observes:


The USNCA he refers to is the National Climate Assessment report from NOAA/NCDC.



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September 8, 2014 10:47 am

That is why they call it the monsoon season here in the valley. Means it can rain heavily. We needed the rain, hope it helps fill our reservoirs which are at around 50%.

September 8, 2014 10:50 am

Sounds just like the non-factual, climate alarmism New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been pedaling to push his boss’s “green” wealth-redistribution campaign here in New York State – See this Huffington Post article: “On Climate and the Environment, New York Is Leading Where Washington Fails”:

Reply to  Mary Kay Barton
September 8, 2014 12:08 pm

Mary Kay,
CNW, July 10, 2014
“La Caisse acquires a 24.7% stake in U.S.-based Invenergy”
In early 2013, La Caisse acquired a minority interest in Invenergy composed of 11 wind projects in the U.S. and 2 in Canada.
Follow the money.

Reply to  Barbara
September 8, 2014 1:19 pm

Caisse De Depot Et Placement Du Quebec
View: Ownership List
Business Week
Follow the Board connections.

Reply to  Barbara
September 8, 2014 1:32 pm

Stantec Inc.
Institutional Holdings List;

September 8, 2014 10:58 am

We’re not that far from Sky Harbor in Tempe and the report is we’ve had is 4.17 inches, though that may include some rain from last evening. But I went to bed at 10:30 and it hadn’t begun raining yet. Chandler (further east) is reported to have had over 5 inches.

Reply to  daved46
September 10, 2014 3:16 pm

The flooding on I-10 was due to the extraction pumps failing to kick on.
Here in San Tan Valley, we had 1 3/4 inches. My wife and I were on the patio (faces South) at midnight and we could see the storm brewing slightly west of south and it was heading northwest. The lightning was constant. We both agreed it was going to be a “Big ‘un!”.

mark l
September 8, 2014 10:58 am

Never let a good disaster go to waste.

Olaf Koenders
Reply to  mark l
September 8, 2014 4:48 pm

Prognostications of disaster. A measly record broken by a mere 0.05 inches. Seems like someone stopped the car to go pee.

Peter Dunford
September 8, 2014 11:00 am

What was causing such extreme rainfall in 1934?
So 100 parts per million of CO2 added to the atmosphere adds 5 1/100th of an inch to extreme weather events. Yawn.

September 8, 2014 11:05 am

But … but … I thought they were blaming the drought on CAGW.
C’mon, they can’t have it both ways.

Anything is possible
Reply to  Oldseadog
September 8, 2014 11:11 am

Yes, they can!

Reply to  Anything is possible
September 8, 2014 11:17 am

They most certainly can. We had a beautiful day last week here in Virginia. All because of CAGW!

David A
Reply to  Anything is possible
September 9, 2014 7:09 am

Yes, CAGW even causes a long run of average days to be very rare.

September 8, 2014 11:10 am

Isn’t this good news with all the drought issues, etc?
If you want gentle rain move to the West of Ireland or the West of Scotland where it rains a bit almost every day.

September 8, 2014 11:11 am

Dry, wet, hot, cold, it is all AGW. I know, ’cause I read the memo.

Dave The Engineer
September 8, 2014 11:14 am

Oldseadog said:
“C’mon, they can’t have it both ways.”
Sure they can, it is a cult, reality has nothing to do with it. Eventually to deal with the conflict they will bring out the tubs of “koolaid”. To relieve the pain. Looking forward to it.

September 8, 2014 11:15 am

I moved to Phoenix in September 1975 just in time see the remains of two hurricanes move over the state. Each one produced flooding. Nothing new today.

Reply to  Chuck
September 10, 2014 3:19 pm

Remember the floods in 1993 or ’94 when they had to rebuild the Mill Avenue bridge in Tempe for the second time in 15 years? 🙂

September 8, 2014 11:26 am

From the Somerset Levels to the EU to the UN to the Club of Rome. 2014 – 017

September 8, 2014 11:35 am

When they get more than a fraction of an inch in the desert, it floods! All the top soil has been blown away, and the remaining clay does not absorb water very well. So there is run off!
It is called physics or chemistry, not CAGW.

Reply to  philjourdan
September 8, 2014 11:47 pm

This is not even close. The soils in the Salt River Valley are sandy, not clay. They drain very well. Flooding happens because of the huge amount of moisture being squeezed out of the atmosphere in a very short amount of time.

Reply to  DesertYote
September 10, 2014 5:07 am

If there was a “great deal of water”. 3 inches is not a great deal, EXCEPT in the desert. Scratch the sand and you find clay. Try it.

George Phillips
September 8, 2014 11:39 am

I lived on the Rim above Phoenix during the early ’70. One labor day we had close to 7″ of moisture over the Labor Day weekend. Washed out bridges and road that had been there for 20 some odd years. Not that unusual in that country. Also during the 30’s, a bunch of folks drown while camping in the Salt River bottoms in Phoenix area. There was a good size storm in the mountains.

September 8, 2014 11:44 am

Lol – a bit of rain in Phoenix, and snow here in most of Alberta, Canada. Up to 5cm of snow in southern portions of the province. To us, just normal Alberta weather.

Reply to  albertalad
September 8, 2014 5:48 pm

Over 17 cm (6.5 inches) at my place north of Rocky Mountain House at noon. But the temperature has gone from 0 at noon to +3 C at 7 PM so this snow will likely be gone by tomorrow night. Not unusual out here in the foothills. I have even baled hay in the snow in November in the past when we had these early snowfalls. Fed it before spring thaw so it stays dry. Horses for courses. I see it is still below 0 in the Calgary area. Prefer the snow to the rain like in Phoenix. Currently a snowfall warning between Calgary and Banff; some areas have had over 20 cm (8 inches).

Mark and two Cats
September 8, 2014 11:52 am

I thought the warmunists want global rain.
Oh wait – it’s global reign they want.

September 8, 2014 11:55 am

All we did here in AZ was enjoy a little moisture from Norbert. As someone mentioned earlier, some places got over 5″ and please don’t lose sight of the number one cause of death in the desert is drowning!!!

George V
September 8, 2014 12:13 pm

“13,000 homes and businesses lost power…”
Ha!! I laugh in ze general direction of zere faces!! Here in ze southeast Michigan* we can lose ze power to zat many homes in brief summer shower!
*375,000 without power last Friday night after storms rolled through. 89,000 still without. Another round of severe weather on Weds this week. Oh, for a mere 13,000 without power! Of course, the problem here is we have all these big green woody things that fall over in the wind… whaddya call them – oh yeah, trees!

Reply to  George V
September 9, 2014 1:44 am

Yes and in Phoenix most of the power lines are run underground, that and few big trees makes for small outages.

September 8, 2014 12:28 pm

So a 75 year separation between records is an increase in frequency?

September 8, 2014 12:38 pm

The same people who blame this on climate change have no problem calling a 15+ year hiatus in warming “weather”.

John Baglien
September 8, 2014 12:40 pm

With only 0.05 inches separating yesterday’s record of 2.96″ from the old record of 2.91 inches set in 1939, it would seem obvious that the precedence for such an event was set 75 years ago. Wonder how many alarmists are going to assert this event was unprecedented anyway.

Reply to  John Baglien
September 8, 2014 1:27 pm

Actually the amount of rain was the same, except that due to AGW the rain that fell in 1939 was cooler so it was more dense and took up less space, so it looked like less than today’s rain.
Well, the hypothesis is as good as any other ….. .

Reply to  John Baglien
September 8, 2014 1:38 pm

Actually, we ended up with 3.29 inches, though the day and 24-hour period are not over and there’s still a 20-30% chance of rain this evening.

September 8, 2014 1:10 pm

Listened to ABC radio news about an hour ago within th e first 2 minutes: RECORD
RAIN IN PHOENIX !!!! Then a blurb about how this “unusual storm a HURRICAAANEE
remnant was the most rain ever!!! -Thinking to myself “Ok by how much? When was the rpevious record? Thanks Anthony now I know..
Desperation is an ugly thing….

Reply to  tgmccoy
September 9, 2014 12:45 pm

Our record came from a storm that was never a hurricane (just a TS). But that was because of Global Warming as well. 😉

Luke Warmist
September 8, 2014 1:36 pm

I live about 12 miles southeast of sky harbor where the record resides. We got right at 4 inches, which I’m fairley certain ABC national news will report as the new norm in a warming world. They’ve done it before, and I just can’t see them passing this one by.

September 8, 2014 2:00 pm

Back in 1976 Kathleen gave 2.87 inches at Davis Dam. Then in 1977 first Doreen gave 7.01 inches in Yuma Valley, and then Heather gave 8.30 inches in Nogales.
Those events are numbers 3,4,and 8 in a top-ten Joseph D’Aleo compiled of tropical-storm-remnant-rain-events for Arizona on his Weatherbell Blog.
What I notice is that having hurricanes come up the Mexican coast to influence Arizona and Southern California can be part of a pattern that gives the eastern USA very cold winters. 1976 and 1977 were the time of the ice-age scare.
Stock up on firewood, you folk up north.

Jim Francisco
Reply to  Caleb
September 8, 2014 7:01 pm

If we have two more winters like the last one I am moving down with you folks. Maybe Louisiana.

nutso fasst
September 8, 2014 2:14 pm

Last I heard, climate models showed wet areas getting wetter and dry areas getting dryer–the latter being specifically projected for the Southwest U.S.

September 8, 2014 2:23 pm

Hmmm, less than a month ago, on Aug. 19th, Phoenix had 5-8 inches of rain. I hope they are keeping track of the totals this year. I think the reservoirs should be full instead of half full, what are they doing with all that rain?
I think Phoenix averages about 6 inches a year, and I’m sure that they have had much more than that so far this year. Would like to see the totals…of course they are still having a drought…

Reply to  J. Philip Peterson
September 8, 2014 3:26 pm

That flooding a month ago was not in Phoenix, but north of Phoenix. During that storm, we here in central Phoenix got barely anything. I’m not sure how much that area got in this storm, but the northern outskirts tend to be wetter than Phoenix itself.
Phoenix gets just over 8 inches a year, on average.

Reply to  Michael E. Newton
September 10, 2014 3:34 pm

I’ve heard the average is 14.7 inches annually.
But remember: “Phoenix” is 75 miles from Surprise (NW) to Queen Creek (SE); one area can have floods while the other area is bone dry, and then it reverses 180 degrees.

Reply to  J. Philip Peterson
September 8, 2014 3:27 pm

And by the way, we are just 0.05 above normal for the year to date.

Reply to  Michael E. Newton
September 8, 2014 3:42 pm

The reason I remembered that is because I flew into Phoenix the next day, on Aug. 20th and saw evidence of rain in some of the small lakes, and “puddles” around PHX airport. Not sure where they are measuring their totals, but it must vary greatly depending on where the weather station is. The article in the NY daily news must be inaccurate then. The TV news at the Philly airport, where I left from, was also reporting 5″ of rain in Phoenix.

Reply to  Michael E. Newton
September 8, 2014 3:59 pm

Either you are misremembering or the news reported it incorrectly. I live in Phoenix and we did not get 5 inches of rain. But I do remember my sister and her kids calling asking me if we got flooded, so perhaps the news was saying that Phoenix got five inches when it was just one area 30 miles north of town.

September 8, 2014 3:28 pm

A class action to expose this would be a good start.
How can there be a climate change /global warming debate without knowing where and when man is manipulating it.

David L.
September 8, 2014 3:52 pm

What is the precision of rainfall totals? Can they really measure better than a hundredth of an inch? I highly doubt it. 2.96 and 2.91 are the same amount. No record was broken.

Reply to  David L.
September 8, 2014 4:00 pm

Except for the fact that we got 3.29 inches. That said, the totals vary greatly by area from about 2.2 to 5.6. So it is possible that the area as a whole got less rain than the previous record, but since our total is now 0.38 inches greater, evidence suggests otherwise.

Reply to  David L.
September 8, 2014 5:46 pm
Local rain-gage network – results will be in tomorrow for today’s rain. Rain levels can really vary by locality out here. Where I am south and east of the airport, it rained harder than at Sky Harbor… this time! But you never know.

September 8, 2014 4:11 pm

More tautological bs from the climate obsessed.

Gary Pearse
September 8, 2014 4:12 pm

I had been watching the intelliweather daily temp and rain maps over much of this year and noted a lot of rain falling in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and north. If we didn’t let the Gang Green push us around we could dam this stuff even more than we do and maybe give California a hand (of course they should do their part – although they seem to have been a magnet for the Gang and their situation is probably unresolvable). Gee whiz America, don’t let them fence you in and push you around. Why are we not hearing a hue and cry from the Republicans. Look maybe you should read the pamphlets, study the Congressional record, review the legislation, regulations and plans they have for you before you vote this time. Maybe its time for the Repubs to jump into the fray, support production of cheap energy, defund the UN. Man I’m scared they’ve taken a liking to Kool aid themselves – hey they may like the environment for a big tax grab. Try electing the US’s first bald president. They are testosterone factories! I’ve become afraid of the prospect of a woman president in recent years. They are too nurturing or something. Is there a Thatcher or Golda Mier left in the ranks? Here’s a pic of a president of Israel who ran a country that doesn’t get shoved around.

Go Home
September 8, 2014 4:52 pm

SRP Reservoir Lake Levels updated daily…
Total reservoir system 48%

Reply to  Go Home
September 10, 2014 3:36 pm

And in 2012 they had to open the floodgates to get rid of the excess water.

Go Home
September 8, 2014 4:59 pm
September 8, 2014 5:25 pm

I guess CO2 is the cause of a Arctic high pushing well south into the US later in the week. Looks like a November storm over Lake Superior — in early Sept.

September 8, 2014 6:18 pm

There is another factor to this story. First, it sounds like it rained at a rate faster than the soil could absorb the water, perhaps due to a higher moisture content from last week’s rain, and this resulted in areas of sheet flooding. Parking lots, roads, roof tops, and other impervious surfaces, are a different story as they can be designed to handle such heavy rains; but to design for the worst case (if the engineer knows what that may be) makes the drains and conveyance systems massive and cost-prohibitive. A design decision has to be made as to the cost versus risks/benefits of the size of these drainage systems. There is always going to be a chance for a rainfall that exceeds the design capabilities for handling the water. We can reduce risk but we can’t afford a completely risk free world. Here in the East the kids got out of school last year several times due to precipitation – it snowed.

September 8, 2014 6:39 pm

Looking out the window and seeing some big monsoon clouds starting to form, I see an 85% chance of rain starting at about 10:45. We may be adding to those record totals.

September 8, 2014 8:29 pm

your headline is misleading, extreme rainfall events in the US ARE on the increase, as described in the National Climate Assessment that Roger Pilke Jr quotes from and shown here

bob alou
Reply to  Bevan
September 9, 2014 8:13 am

Nobody measures the rainfall over the 70% of the global surface covered w/water so there can’t be any evidence of increasing glowbull rainfall.

Reply to  bob alou
September 10, 2014 6:56 am

You mean no one is tracking the flooding or droughts in the oceans? 😉

September 8, 2014 8:36 pm

Please post rainfall totals for the globe. Because the debate is always about global warming, no?
We wouldn’t want anyone cherry picking only the U.S., would we?

Reply to  dbstealey
September 9, 2014 1:16 am

Global rainfall totals won’t tell us much if wet regions are getting wetter and dry regions drier at roughly the same rate. The global average won’t change, even though change in affected regions could be pronounced. In fact, averaging the global rainfall figure could well obscure any important regional variations.

Reply to  DavidR
September 9, 2014 2:10 am

All you need to do is look at the historical record. What obscures important information is to ignore history, or to “adjust” it.

David A
Reply to  DavidR
September 9, 2014 7:16 am

regional variations always exist, and for a little while folk have called this weather. CAGW predics global increase in droughts hurricanes fires floods, etc. etc.

Reply to  DavidR
September 9, 2014 8:12 am

Say the western half of a large region is 30% drier and the eastern half is 30% wetter than normal over an extended period. If you just take the average for the whole region without breaking it down you’ll conclude that rainfall over that period hasn’t changed at all.
Clearly that would be a gross oversimplification. Without narrowing the data range down you would struggle to explain the reasons for drought in the western half of the region and flooding in the east. It would be nonsensical not to narrow the range down.

September 8, 2014 10:57 pm

NOAA is out of control. If I’m right somebody needs to call them out big time.
They claim the Phoenix total was all time daily record. The official total for Phoenix in the 6/22/1972 storm was a little over 5 inches in 2 hours. I’m no scientist but unless that storm in 72 straddled midnight today’s total is child splay. The report today cited NOAA describing this storm as a 500-1000 year event, without “global change”. If he needs help checking his facts perhaps he should research his own agency’s historical references. Reference NOAA technical memorandum NWS Hydro-26 dated Nov 1975, authored by E. Marshall Hansen. Page 7, table 1.

David A
Reply to  Jackson
September 9, 2014 7:19 am

Forever, as in worst rain ever, least ice ever, etc, in general, for NOAA, starts in 1979. What is wrong with you.

Reply to  Jackson
September 9, 2014 11:27 am

The rate of rain over a 6 hour period was enormous in a few spots. Usually bursts happen over 15 minutes because monsoons move fast. The unusual part was the length on intensity over 1, 2 and 6 hours. The 1-day stuff is BS. 5 inches in 24 hours would drain much better than the 4 inches in 2 hours. It only rained from 1-8 in the morning. This is actually a 1 in 5 year event (tropical storm in north baja with monsoonal high pressure system over four corners). The variations are the locations where the rain dumps. This year was Phoenix. Monsoon precipitation is normal, location is unpredictable. Check out the 1983 storm Octave in September that picked Tucson instead of Phoenix. Mt. Graham had 12 inches of rain. This yeas channel pushed it towards Las Vegas and hopefully Lake Mead and the Colorado river lakes/dams.
It seems the eastern Pacific hurricanes are at the normal anti-pode with atlantic hurricanes with El Nino-like production without El Nino. There is another one currently forming. Whether it affects Arizona will be determined by whether the high pressure stays in Monsoon location or moves west (and hurricane is steared north). Only a slight shift to the west will dump all the moisture on Southern California. Slight shift east will hit orographic lift of the Mogollon Rim and will fill reservoirs. SRP keeps the downstream reservoirs too full anyway so it really has to be eastern rain to fill the upstream reservoirs. Expect mudslides in Southern Cal if the new system continues north.

September 9, 2014 1:30 am

Phoenix weather is a bit odd this time of year. Almost all of the precipitation comes from thunderstorms that drop lots of rain over a strip a couple of miles wide and 20-40 miles long. If you in that strip, you can get washed downstream. A mile outside the strip and you might not know anything happened. In total, they don’t drop a lot of water.
The major reservoir system here is the Salt River Project. Someone posted a link to the daily wate reports. Phoenix is outside of the SRP watershed, so the water falling on the Phoenix metro area won’t end up in the reservoirs. Most of the rain in this episode fell in the northwest corner of the state, up by Las Vegas. That won’t end up in the reservoirs either.
It will take several days for the runoff to reach the reservoirs. Check the water report about the start of next week. I don’t expect a visible change from this storm.

September 9, 2014 2:34 am

I used to think that the UK was mostly wet and USA mostly dry, until during a coast-to-coast drive in the USA the heavens suddenly opened and visibility reduced to zero, like being in a car wash. Everyone on the road stopped for around an hour until it passed.
Statistics on weather extremes almost always suffer from extreme selection bias, you really have to look at a large area and various periods of time before quoting something meaningless like “highest daily rainfall in my backyard ever recorded”.

September 9, 2014 7:16 am
this paper explains why climate scientists continue to get the wrong predictions about climate. the paper is not specific to climate.
what the paper shows is that most research assumes nature behaves according to the “normal distribution”. But in fact dynamic systems follow the “power law” (fractal) distribution. The power law distribution differs from the normal distribution in that extreme events are much more likely than predicted by the normal distribution.
for example, it was assumed for many years that the stock market followed the normal distribution. However, the financial meltdown of 2007 brought home that the market was in fact following he power law distribution.
One characteristic of the power law distribution is that it has no meaningful average or mean. Thus, the preoccupation of climate science with anomalies is based on a false premise, that you can calculate a meaningful average for climate.
In point of fact, climate itself is misrepresented as average weather. Average weather has no meaning in a power law distribution. Thus, the formal definition of climate is mathematically incorrect and meaningless.

Richard Wright
September 9, 2014 9:38 am

If the rain gauge were move a 100 ft away maybe it would have been less. 0.05″ is less than 1/16″. I’ve to to believe that’s within the margin of error. What technology was used in 1933? Was the accuracy the same then as now? At some point, increased accuracy doesn’t really give you a better picture of reality because there rainfall is not that uniform. The same way that recording times in the Olympics to 1/1000 or even 1/100 of a second are pretty much meaningless. Is the runner that ran 1/1000 sec faster really the faster runner?

September 9, 2014 11:07 am

Lived hear 40 years and the worst was 1983. During the monsoon season, the normal high pressure that is over Las Vegas in May and June moves to four corners and clockwise rotation pulls water vapor from july through september. Pacific hurricanes that travel north along baja coast rotate CCW and a gear-like channel creates a swath of rain. The event is not uncommon in September and the only thing different is where the channel is concentrated. orographic lift and general instabilty often affect it. Phoenix makes the news but it killed 2 people in Tucson. I guess 1-day record breaking is more important than lives lost. This could esaily have been a 5 day event and the computer track predicted it at least 7 days before. Monsoonal flow is easy to predict but exact location of precipitation is not.

September 10, 2014 2:11 pm

Hi Folks:
I have been having a running discussion (argument) with someone about the record rains in Phoenix Monday morning. My position is that Norbert had nothing to do with this rain. My reasoning may be a bit ad hoc and analysis cursory at best. So, here it is:
I had been watching the progress of Norbert for a week or so prior to Sept. 8, mainly from NWS visible, infrared and water vapor (4 km Southwest and Western U.S.) satellite loops. Leading up to and including the morning of Sept. 8 I did not see what I would consider any significant (if any) moisture flow from Norbert into Arizona leading up to Sept, 8.
I am just now reading the “NASA Tracks Norbert Moisture to Arizona’s Drenching Thunderstorms”, posted today: ( and in the first paragraph: “Post-tropical storm Norbert may have been centered a couple of hundred miles off the northwestern coast of Mexico’s Baja California, but the flow of warm, moist air that spun around it generated drenching thunderstorms over Arizona. NASA’s TRMM satellite saw Norbert’s remnants and those Arizona thunderstorms dropping rainfall at over 2 inches per hour.”
Included in this discussion is a link to the NOAA GOES 15 from 09/06/14 1400 UTM to 09/09/14 1300 UTM ( showing Norbert’s counterclockwise bands and its larger influence over the southwest.
On the one hand if Norbert had not existed everything would have been different (duh!) and on the other was Norbert the lynch pin for this event?
Am I trying to split and unresolvable hair? Or am I just wrong? Or just full BS?
Your thoughts, comments, guidance, etc. will be most appreciated.

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