Satellite image shows South Carolina's 'Once-in-a-Thousand-Years Flood' was due to a 'complex meteorological event'

From the “more facts against the Mann” department. While claims of climate change swirl about from the usual doomsayers, such as this one from Time Magazine:

Climate change is making rare weather events less rare

At least nine people have died in flooding across South Carolina that has left city streets submerged in water, destroyed homes and closed more than 100 bridges. Nikki Haley, the state’s governor, described the disaster as one of such an epic scale that science suggests it would only occur once every 1,000 years.

A flooding disaster of this scale was unlikely to be sure, scientists say, but climate change has transformed once-in-a-lifetime events into periodic occurrences. The flooding may have been hard to predict, but it should no longer come as a surprise.

And everybody’s favorite poster boy for disaster, Michael E. Mann, says at the Washington Post:

This is yet another example, like Sandy, or Irene, of weather on “steroids,” another case where climate change worsened the effects of an already extreme meteorological event. In this case, we’re seeing once-in-a-thousand year flooding along the South Carolina coastline as a consequence of the extreme supply of moisture streaming in from hurricane Joaquin. Joaquin intensified over record warm sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic, which both allowed it to intensify rapidly despite adverse wind shear, and which provided it with unusually high levels of moisture — moisture which is now being turned into record rainfall.

Really? As Bob Tisdale pointed out here a few days ago:

In fact, the sea surfaces along the {hurricane Joaquin] storm track were regularly warmer in the 1940s and 50s than they have been recently.

Figure 3

Clearly, Dr. Mann is all wet.

There is also the claim being tossed about that there’s more water vapor in the air due to global warming. There’s no support for this idea in the satellite data:

The NVAP-M project shows total precipitable water (TPW) data is shown in Figure 4, reproduced from the paper Vonder Haar et al (2012) here. There is no evidence of increasing water vapor to enhance the small warming effect from CO2.


Instead of “steroids”… a more mundane explanation has emerged from satellite imagery: a river of moisture, aka an “atmospheric river” much like we get in California from time to time, which we call the “pineapple express” due to the origin of the river of air near Hawaii. Wikipedia defines it as:

Pineapple Express is a non-technical term for a meteorological phenomenon characterized by a strong and persistent flow of atmospheric moisture and associated with heavy precipitation from the waters adjacent to the Hawaiian Islands and extending to any location along the Pacific coast of North America. A Pineapple Express is an example of an atmospheric river, which is a more general term for such narrow corridors of enhanced water vapor transport at mid-latitudes around the world.

Early in 1862, extreme storms riding the Pineapple Express battered the west coast for 45 days. In addition to a sudden snow melt, some places received an estimated 8.5 feet of rain, leading to the worst flooding in recorded history of California, Oregon, and Nevada. Known as the Great Flood of 1862, both the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys flooded, and there was extensive flooding and mudslides throughout the region.

Get that? A “meteorological phenomenon” not a climate phenomenon. And, the confluence of meteorological events that led to that situation happened well before “climate change” was a glimmer in Jim Hansen’s eye. Even the normally pro-warming Capital Weather Gang say the flooding in South Carolina is a “very complex meteorological event “.

“At least eight key elements conspired to create a highly efficient, small-scale rain machine centered on South Carolina,”

Some meteorologists have been calling this plume of rain a predecessor rain event, or “PRE,” which sometimes occurs ahead of tropical storms that interact with separate areas of low pressure and lingering surface fronts — exactly what Hurricane Joaquin did. – Jeff Halverson at Capital Weather Gang


Water vapor satellite image on Sunday, showing the non-tropical low pressure vortex and Hurricane Joaquin well-offshore. (NASA, modified by CWG)

The reason things get complicated is that the heavy rains over South Carolina are a confluence of multiple causes, that low to the left, Hurricane Joaquin to the right; the atmospheric river tapped some of its tropical moisture and the low spun it right into South Carolina.

Clearly from this NOAA GOES satellite image of water vapor content, we have a meteorological phenomenon that is a rare confluence of meteorological events that resulted in an atmospheric river:

Added: h/t to Willis Eschenbach for the video clip


179 thoughts on “Satellite image shows South Carolina's 'Once-in-a-Thousand-Years Flood' was due to a 'complex meteorological event'

  1. At same time at the opposite side of Atlantic (actually in Mediterranean, at the Cote d’Azur, S. France) a short burst (just 2 hours) of intense rain killed 17 people. However, this was not one in the 1000 years event, but 3rd in the last 5 years, although in the two previous ones (2010 and Nov. 2014) the mortality was not so high, if I remember correctly.

    • While the worry warts were warning of the current hurricane of concern, that was heading out to sea, the actual live weather geeks, were telling their audiences, that the current disastrous Carolina flooding was entirely due to well understood weather events that are completely unrelated to the hurricane.
      The consequences for the people of the region are very real, and we all feel for them on that, but it is unrelated to this Joachin storm.

    • Vukcevic, that part of France is notorious for flash floods due to the terrain. Common events and time of day has a bearing on casualty numbers.

      • Yes, I know it well, I left only 2 days before, but waded through the last November one, at least this time the storm wasn’t accompanied by strong winds.

      • Did they keep wooden bucket temperature measurements back then, by dipping their fingers in them? We might be able to calibrate Argo buoys against them if so.

      • Clay pots , Phil. And they stuck their tongue in…more sensitive.
        Same way they checked for voltage.

    • Pulled it out of her butt. Veracity doesn’t matter; all one needs is a sensationalist sound-bite to spread across the TV media.

      • Somehow, I believe that is what happened. Media folks called around until they found someone prone to a bit of hyperbole saying this is a 1 – 1000 event. Its like telling that girl she is one in million, until you dump her for the next girl who is also 1 a million (what are the odds of all one’s girlfriends being one in a million!)

      • If you live in China, and are one in a million…there are 1360 just exactly like you.
        But, as for the girl friend thing, they are all one in a million, just a different one.

      • I saw an interview with a resident of South Carolina. They were standing in water knee deep in front of her house which was built on stilts, the carport underneath, the house proper two stories another fifteen feet up.
        If it only flooded there knee deep once in a thousand years, why the stilts?

    • I believe the way it goes is you take the rainfall, calculate the number of standard deviations away from normal it is, and the area beyond that point in the Gaussian bell curve is the likelihood of the event being exceeded.
      Folks are talking about needing a different shaped bell curve to handle extreme weather events, as the “one in xxx” scheme doesn’t work out well for events in the tails of the curve. When a place gets hit with a once in a century storm one year and again a couple years later, it’s clear the tails need to be pulled higher.

      • Ric: “When a place gets hit with a once in a century storm one year and again a couple years later, it’s clear the tails need to be pulled higher.” The “once in an XXXX year storm” is a probability statement. Think of it as a recurrence interval. The probability that a storm of that “magnitude” in any given year is the same for each and every year. Hundred year floods have a probability of 0. 01 (or 1 percent). It is a measure of flood magnitude (volume, flow rate, etc). Just because it is a once in a thousand year flood does not mean that you could have another one next year or even another one this year. Each year the probability is the same.

      • Well since he bell curve is based on the information you have; you said rainfall, all that calculation gives is how many elements you would need to have in that set, to have one of them that far out in right field. It can’t tell you anything about events that haven’t been observed yet. (didn’t occur already).
        Why do people infer prediction of the future from information that is only about the past that is already known??

      • Ric, that’s correct – fit a Gaussian to the observed data over your POR (period of record), and then go out on the wings for the probabilites over many more years. Sounds good in theory, and seems to work well for some things (like rolling dice). But here’s an anecdote using observations from my very own NWS co-op station.
        I started obs. in 1982, and after 20 years figured I had enough points to draw that Gaussian curve. One thing of interest is heavy precipitation events, of course. There were several 4 to 5 inch events in those twenty years, and that Gaussian came up with a return interval for a 9-inch event as 6 million years. That would be ten such events since the dinos died.
        The following year there was a 9-inch precip event (falling as 72 inches of snow!!!), and suddenly that 6-million year storm became a 21-year storm. Well, not really. Re-computing with one more year of data came out to once in 20,000 years.
        Fast forward a dozen years: two years ago there was another 9-inch event. Re-calculating makes those 7,000 year events.
        Then I found a guy up the hill who recorded a 12-inch rainfall event in 1969. If I put that into the calculation, a 9-incher becomes a 100-year event, and that 12-incher a 44,000-year storm (even if it happended only 46 years ago).
        So that silly Gaussian still says an event that’s observed 3 times in 44 years is a once-in-a-century storm. Apparently there’s a population of extreme events that are disconnected from the normal well-behaved everyday storms.
        Maybe rainstorms aren’t Gaussian. Ya think?
        BTW, that 72-inch snow was the biggest in 33 years of record. The Gaussian says it’s a 330 year snow, and only had a 1 in 10 chance of falling on my shift.

      • For disasters like this, statisticians use the Poisson Distribution. This distribution allows for disasters to occur in groups of 1, 2, or 3 occurrences over short periods of time.

      • Richard Keen,
        Wow, I never had any occupation lie what you describe, but just following weather events as a hobby, and making certain inferences, I came to the same conclusion you seem to have done re extreme precipitation events being a separate mechanism from normal everyday weather.
        I wish I was better at describing what I am thinking.
        I never knew what a Poisson distribution was (I thought it was some kind of soup), but this seems to fit observed events far better than Gaussian distribution.

      • No. For flood peak estimated return period you following the following procedure, or one nearly like it. You rank the data from highest to lowest and assign a probability to each with the largest event having the smallest probability. This is usually done from USGS streamflow records, but sometimes other agencies do stream gauging as well. Then you fit a probability distribution to the observed stream-flow annual peaks (or partial duration series). Now that you have the probability distribution for flood peaks, you extend it (extrapolate) until it reaches the flood peak you observe or estimate for the storm of interest. Then you estimate the exceedance probability for that large flood and calculate the return period from the estimated exceedance probability. The farther you extrapolate from the largest flood peak recorded, the higher the uncertainty in the 1000 year flood. Consult USGS methods reports or almost any hydrology book.

    • Richmond, VA has had four of those 1000 year events in my memory; Camille in 1969, Agnes in 1971, a massive line of thunderstorms upstream in 1972 and Gaston in 2004. Agnes brought 36′ 9″ flood height, Camille 35’+. Gaston dumped 10-12 inches in roughly five hours. I vaguely remember other floods in the early 50s, but nothing like Agnes and Camille.

    • You just take the rainfall measurements that you do have going back 100 or more years and well established stats theory will provide an ‘estimate’. Remember you can more than 1 such event in the time period, and its not impossible to be say 50 years apart. The actual way is should be described as a probability, ie 1 in 1000 chance

      • Yes, you are technically correct, but I think some reporter just found some excitable meteorologist who proclaimed in his excitement that it was a 1000 year event. I highly doubt much math really went into it. And I also find all the 100 year events that happen every year suspect – like someone with an agenda is trying to make the weather seem more extreme.

    • Khem … “Um, how does one arrive at the conclusion that this was a once in a thousand year flood?”
      Obviously, an AGW believer/weatherman gave Gov Nikki Haley that propaganda line, and Haley, not knowing she was repeating crap propaganda, used that line in her press conference. As governor, she is considered an authoritative voice so it has been repeated ad nauseum.

    • Just like estimating 1 in 100 yr events. Take the time series we have collected, fit the rainfall totals to a statistical distribution (log normal would probably be close) and identify where the current event falls on that distribution. Insurance companies have used this approach for years to set flood insurance rates.

    • Tony Heller/Steven Goddard at has a wonderfully succinct explanation of the probability factors:
      “Every time we get a big rain in the US, climate morons start claiming it was a 1,000 year event
      So what are they doing wrong?
      Your odds of winning the lottery are very small, but the odds of someone winning the lottery are quite high. What these geniuses are doing is conflating the odds of one individual station getting a 20 inch rain, with the odds of any station getting a 20 inch rain.
      Big rains are not rare in the US. Alvin, Texas got 43 inches of rain in one day in 1979.
      We heard exactly the same 1,000 year nonsense after the 20 inch rains of 2013 in Colorado, but Colorado got 24 inches of rain in six hours in 1935.”
      Extreme weather is always happening SOMEWHERE. That’s normal, not exceptional

    • Reagan invented the term on the occasion of the ’64 floods in N. Cal. There were earlier floods in ’55 that then governor Pat Brown declared as 100 year floods. Reagan one upped him when much bigger floods occurred only 9 years later.

  2. This event might not be caused by 100 ppm of CO2, but events like this could become more common in a warming world, dontcha know. So be afraid, and send money.

      • On average, super storm Sandy didn’t do much of anything. For most of its life it was ho hum.
        They just cherry picked a few days when it was ashore in the US, and caused some problems. In terms of climate, we will have to wait another 30 years to find out what SSS actually accomplished.

      • I was in the middle of Super Storm Sandy and it washed out 100 year old bridges in my little town of Berlin, NY. It flooded everything and did a lot of damage. Belittling this big storm is harming your own arguments and looks bad.

  3. Charleston is built on a substantial river delta, and river deltas are built through periodic flooding.

  4. If you get a really hot blonde meteorologist to report it as a result of global warming, everyone will believe it, or not care to say otherwise.

    • If you get a really hot blonde meteorologist to report it as a result of global warming, everyone will believe it…

      Or you could get Heidi Cullen to say it, and then everyone will know it is a bunch of malarkey.
      /sarc off

  5. Historic flooding? Unprecedented? Then why did Noah build that ark?
    Seriously, they picked Columbia, SC, and said there had never been 10.x inches of rain there in 24 hours before. Ever. Since the creation of the world, or since records have been kept (whichever is more recent.) But I know damn well other locales in SC have recorded that much rain before in a day. Just ask anyone from anywhere in the SE USA. “Boy, you don’t know what heavy rain is unless you’ve been in one of our gullywashers! Can’t see your hand in front of your face.” The cherrypicking of local records is histor…, er, hysterical.

      • We’ve had 7 in of rain in the lee of western Lake Ontario in less than a day, 2 or 3 years back Yup, got some flooding.

      • I was programming for Joe Barnes at NOAA in Boulder, Colorado and Doug Lilly of NCAR when the Big Thompson Flood of 1976 killed 143 people – the worst in Colorado history. The first day at work after the flash flood, I remember Joe and Doug saying, “heads are going to roll” because this was not predicted.
        But when the weather maps were closely studied it was concluded that the weather coincidences were so unusual that no meteorologist could have predicted it in advance. As I recall, the wind vectors of 4 different weather systems “canceled” one another out, causing a thunderstorm to stall over one of the high Rocky Mountain basins and dump over a foot of rain in a short period of time. A wall of water up to 20 feet high funneled through the narrow Thompson Canyon draining that basin.

      • Stationary thunderstorms that rain themselves out in place are an everyday occurrences here in Florida in Summer.
        I have had three separate ones at my new place that i have only lived in for about 28 months.
        Each caused nearly 8″ of rain in a few hours. Two of them happened on consecutive days last summer, leading to localized flooding in a two or three block radius, but dropped zero rain beyond that.
        Even with porous sandy soil, that much rain takes a few days to soak into the ground…little of it runs off in my area…not enough slope, and many roadside swales are poorly graded.

      • noaaprogrammer says: I was programming for Joe Barnes at NOAA in Boulder, Colorado and Doug Lilly of NCAR when the Big Thompson Flood of 1976 killed 143 people – the worst in Colorado history. The first day at work after the flash flood, I remember Joe and Doug saying, “heads are going to roll” because this was not predicted.
        I remember that well, too. Worse than the forecasts was the downtime on Limon radar for regular maintenance, so not only was it not predicted, it was not detected (until…). I don’t think any heads rolled, but Fernanado Caracena and others pieced together the similarities between Big Thompson 1976 and Rapid City 1972 and put out a wonderful paper that has resulted in successful forecasts of mountain area flash floods ever since. Hundreds or thousands of people are still alive today because of that work.
        So no heads rolled, and hundreds of others were saved.

      • Richard K
        Many thanks.
        An excellent outcome.
        If you could paste a link to the paper it might allow current practitioners to see what old folk used to do – that worked. . . . . . .
        Mods – well – perhaps a soupcon of sarc/

      • Auto,
        I’m most familiar with the NWS Tech report version of the paper, which emphasized forecasting lessons from the storms. But a closely related version was in Monthly Weather Review as:
        Fernando Caracena, Robert A. Maddox, L. Ray Hoxit, and Charles F. Chappell, 1979: Mesoanalysis of the Big Thompson Storm. Mon. Wea. Rev., 107, 1–17.
        Free at: and…
        Good stuff. Real weather research that saves lives and homes.

        • If you could just get all that precip upsloping and training when it is cold enough at your house then you could finally break that all time one day snowfall record! 🙂

    • We lived in Louisiana during our study for the Master’s degree (my wife) and the Ph.D. (for me), a period of a few years and a couple of shorter times. Some years ago A. J. Liebling wrote a wonderful book called “The Earl of Louisiana,” about Gov. Earl Long, a most memorable character. (A story about Earl a few lines down.) Liebling went down to Louisiana to live for a while and to observe the state and its statesmen, including Earl Long. He lived through some memorable Louisiana rainstorms, which he described thus: “In Louisiana, the rain falls in nine-foot cubes, with little air-holes in between.” We experienced some “cubes” down there, and he was right. We were thankful that the storms were usually brief. (An Earl Long story: After being elected Governor based on his promise of “No New Taxes,” Long went to the legislature and introduced no fewer than twenty (20) new taxes. The legislature dutifully and quickly passed them all, and afterwards Earl was besieged by reporters. One particularly loud reporter bellowed out, “What about your promise of no new taxes?” Walking quickly out the door, Long shouted back, “I lied.”

      • I think that Long introduced what was called a ‘tax on Lying’- actually a tax on newspaper revenue. Doesnt make sense he promised no new taxes, as by modern standards he was to the left of Bernie Sanders, but that was a popular place for a politician in dirt poor Louisiana during the depression

    • It has been raining persistently in this region for several weeks. Prior to that, this region had been suffering drought conditions.
      Plus, the recent persistent rains have been accompanied by equally persistent and unusually strong and long lived onshore winds.
      It was not simply the short term one, or two, or even five day rain totals. It was the combined effect of each of these factors that added up to cause the massive flooding.
      Additionally, the concentrated rainfall over a large portion of the individual watersheds involved are contributory. One foot of rain over one county in an hour may not have the result of the same amount over twenty counties, that all happen to drain the same basin or basins. And saturated ground with no ability to absorb falling rain has a huge contribution to flooding, as do onshore winds which hinder stream flow out of the estuaries of the flooding rivers.
      Also, I think it was the flooding, or the stream flow, and not the rainfall totals, that are usually referred to as 100 year or 1000 year events.
      I have thought for years that the actuarial charts, or whatever statistical means are used to ascertain the historical frequency of such events seems to need some revisions.
      It seems that both on the low and the high end, such extreme events may not follow so-called Gaussian (if that is the correct term) statistical correlations. I am by no means an expert on statistical matters (perhaps not on any other matters either…just opinionated), but perhaps this is one of the instances where such events are correlated, such that whatever leads to them happening once may predispose them to occur again in close chronological proximity to the initial event.
      Stalled out weather systems, stuck tropical storms or cut off lows, and atmospheric rivers which seem at times to be trying to establish a semi-permanency on certain occasions, all lead to extreme rainfall totals which appear to be a mechanism apart from regular run-of-the-mill weather events.
      On a related but totally separate train of thought, I have wondered if some such semi-permanent weather system may be responsible for the rapid onset and/or termination of glacial/interglacial cycles.
      Imagine a weather system setting up in winter that becomes “stuck” over a certain area, such as Hudson bay, for an entire winter. Could such an event result in such a tremendous amount of moisture being deposited as snow that it could become a self perpetuating phenomenon, and lead to an ice age all by itself?
      Far fetched I know, but I have not heard any credible explanations for such rapid onsets or/and terminations…just thought I would toss it out there and see if anyone wants to pick up the ball and run with it.

      • The old wives’ tales that “disasters come in clumps of twos and threes” is the common man’s observation of the Poisson Distribution.

      • Flood peaks (or extreme rainfall for that matter) usually follow a probability distribution with a heavy tali and a high skew such as the log-normal, log Pearson Type 2, etc..

      • Menicholas says: “perhaps this is one of the instances where such events are correlated, such that whatever leads to them happening once may predispose them to occur again”
        Right on! If you set up a fat “pineapple express” into California, or a good Gulf Coast/Hatteras cyclogenesis and intensification pattern, Bivalve, NJ, can get repeated northeasters.
        Out here in Colorado it el Nino, of course. 90% of my 4-foot snows come in the one year in five that’s el Nino. So if there’s one of those storms, it’s likely el Nino, and the odds of another one have gone up.
        That 6-foot snow I mentioned was el Nino.
        Menicholas also says: “Imagine a weather system setting up in winter that becomes “stuck” over a certain area, such as Hudson bay, for an entire winter.” Back in my thesis days (looking at ice age precursors in Baffin Island), that was the “Snow Blitz” theory, proposed by some Brits, I think. So rather than an inexorable cooling thanks to the earth’s tilt and orbit, this suggests a real outlier – a one in 100,000 year event – covers the cap with snow, reflecting sunlight all summer to keep the snow there, and it builds up over the winter, reflects more sunlight the next summer, and so on. The appeal of this is that since as far as we can tell, weather beyond next week is essentially random. So why should climate, which is the statistical aggregate of all weather, be any less random?
        In my Weather & Climate class I modeled a century of US climate quite nicely by rolling dice. It even got the PDO, dust bowl, and 1998 el Nino right, with 1934 scoring 12 on the die. I got in trouble with the university warmers, who rely on federal grants for more expensive models that don’t work, for that one.

      • Richard K
        Your comment/prediction: –
        ” The appeal of this is that since as far as we can tell, weather beyond next week is essentially random.”
        is exactly what you and I and thousands others have been tryIng to say.
        Certainly about the UK – England has weather . . . . . . . .
        Guessing about three weeks ahead is – essentially – GUESSING – at least in the UK, and other areas with a link . . . .
        – by Bby

      • Over 30 inches of rain fell overnight in Nelson County Virginia in 1969 from the combo of Hurricane Camille and upslope flow. One in a thousand? You bet. Maybe more.

  6. Did anyone predict this rain event?…and by ‘predict’ I mean say it was coming before it started!

    • Yes. Saw it on the weather news before it happened. REX block identified by the meteorologists. They were pretty much spot on though they said the exact amount of rainfall was indeterminate. I thought they did an excellent job of warning what was coming but who ever listens?

    • Yes!
      The computer models that failed to accurately predict where and when the hurricane would go, had forsen this extreme rain event well in advance.
      Too bad they do not spend more time and money trying to predict what will happen to the rivers and streams in an area if the predicted rains do indeed materialize.
      I did not hear the weather guys saying they would get 12-24 inches of rain also telling people in zones A, B, or C, to start packing up valuables, moving expensive crap onto shelves, and getting the heck out of the affected areas if they could.

  7. This morning on “The Storm Channel” they explained that a “500 year” or a “1000 year” flood doesn’t mean that they only occur once in that many years but that there is a 1 in 500 or 1 in 1000 chance that they will occur at all.
    I’m not a meteorologist so I don’t know if that’s true or not.
    If true, the nomenclature should be changed.
    If not, shouldn’t they be saying the chances are lower?
    But I still get the feeling they would have preferred to report that a hurricane had hit Manhattan.
    PS What SC flood records exist from 1015?

    • If not, shouldn’t they be saying the chances are lower?

      That is if CAGW is “settled science”.

    • That is a statistical computation, from what they already know hadn’t happened. That tells exactly nothing about what might happen from now on. Statistics is not predictive; it simply mutilates, the known data in the already known data set, to produce numbers that statisticians have a name for, but adds no knowledge to what is already recorded in the data set.

    • I’ve done hydrology designing dams, bridges, etc. although I didn’t look at the exact rainfall records for this storm someone mentioned 10 inches in a day……this shouldn’t even be close to a 100 yr event… depends on the area…..but 100 yr events are about 20 to 25 inch rainfalls in 24 hours. I’m thinking SC would be at the higher end of that range.

    • Rainfall nomographs. Standard engineering storm water management. So yeah, you could get a 1/1000 event one year and a 1/1500 year event the next but highly improbable though possible to have several unlikely events in a row due th the atmospheric conditions.

    • Gunga Din
      Ah none. Worst yet, proxies may be iffy for the Charleston area. Was a bit of a war there 1861-1865. Siege guns, trench warfare. A precursor to the first world war. Also the city being burned down. Everything is probably jumbled about, so making a call that there is evidence of a storm from 1015 who knows. Parrot and Dahlgren Guns may have left a few stones and clumps of dirt unturned
      michael 🙂
      PS yes I’m a N.E. Yankee

  8. Here in our local Canadian city we design storm sewers to 100 yr return storms… calculated from a whopping 35 years of rainfall records.

    • Dave: the 1/100 return period is normally for “overland” flow. The sewers are often only designed for 5 to 25 years depending on the city bylaws. In other words, streets are expected to flood in 1/100 year events. Eg – City of Edmonton, Alberta standards;
      Ponding Depths: The minor system should be designed such that the depth of ponding in the street does not exceed 0.15 metres in a 1 in 5 year rainfall event. The major system should be designed to limit the depth of ponding in the street to 0.35 metres in a 1 in 100 year rainfall event.
      And that is why I have always bought on high spots.

      • “And that is why I have always bought on high spots.”
        Smart man.
        If one does not use one’s education to make important decisions…
        It seems like some people forget everything they know when making housing decisions, and just concentrate on emotions…like, “Look at that river view!”
        Re “high spots”: It was my final determining criteria when I decided between the five houses I had decided on as being suitable.
        Not my first choice interior of house wise, but top of the list in terms of storm resistance and flood resistance (Cement tile roof, roll up storm shutters, cement block construction, hip roof structure, house on raised slab and top of a bluff on yellow sand subsoil, two major canals within two blocks.)

  9. An aside.
    I doubt that many (if not all) of those commenting on this are indifferent to those effected by the flooding.
    It’s the “Man-caused-weather” most are addressing.

  10. A 1 in 1000 year event.
    The earth is 4,500,000,000 years old. So that means that only 4,500,000 similar events have happened.
    How rare is something that has happened over 4 million times?

  11. Similar levels of rain occur much more often than one in a thousand years, we had more rain where I live from Floyd in IIRC 1999, NC had a really big rainfall in 1916 near Ashville, a few years back Coca Beach had 30 inches over a day or two. That any particular place would have a big event is probably pretty rare but there are lots of places.

    • Hurricane Fay inundated Cocoa Beach area back in 2008. 20 to 30 inches of rain…..
      “Flooding in Brevard County Florida, City of Cocoa
      Thursday morning 8/21/08
      Holding stationary over the northeastern part of Florida for hours, Fay dumped rains of 50 to 75 centimeters (20 to 30 inches) in some parts of the state, and caused widespread flooding.”

      • I had a very bust work month, and to replace a bunch of equipment that was flooded out during Fay.
        There were many communities in Melbourne and nearby locales that were built on ponds and lakes with inadequate weirs to allow the ponds to flow over into the adjacent canals.
        One community right next to I-95 flooded when the weirs became clogged with turtles. They would have had no problem at all, but the hydrostatic pressure was such that, once all those turtles had either been flushed or swam with the current into the weirs, they could not get back out, drowned, and there were enough of them to fill up and clog the entire weir.
        Properly planned and engineered, but who’d’a thunk of it with those turtles?
        (For those unaware, Florida has large soft shell turtles that can be 16 inches or more in diameter, and these inhabit some ponds in large numbers. I think they are a main food source for alligators and otters in many locations.)

    • From a local PBS station website:
      Many Arizonans shared one unique collective memory of the ’70s. No, it wasn’t 8-track tapes, Farrah Fawcett’s hair, nor even the CB radio craze. It was…the floods! Dams store water in reservoirs for use during drier months. Sudden, excessive rainfall can fill the reservoirs and water must be released…sometimes lots of water. And in Arizona in the ’70s, there was a lot of sudden, excessive rainfall. In the first half of the decade, three powerful storms hit Arizona killing over 30 people and destroying or damaging nearly a thousand homes.
      Between October 1977 and February 1980, there were seven floods. Phoenix was declared a disaster area three times and 18 people lost their lives.
      “It was terrifying, and that was the time that the helicopter reporting really came into the forefront in television news. Jerry Foster flying over and showing the flash flooding, and the cars and the cactus going down the river.”
      Mary Jo West, broadcast journalist
      “How many 100-year floods did we have in the ’70s? It seemed to me we had one everyother Tuesday. I first got here and I had to cover one of them. They kept saying, ‘This is a hundred-year flood.’ And I said, ‘What does that mean? They said, “This is the severity of a flood that will only happen once in a hundred years.”
      Jana Boomersbach, journalist
      Yep, I lived through all of them. It’s been one of those very wet years yet again – and looks like it will continue well into the winter months. Some days I feel like Methuselah…

    • These may be 1 in a thousand rate for a single area, but with hundreds of similar sized areas over the surface of the earth, I suppose we get 1 in 1000 events SOMEWHERE on earth every 10 years or so.

  12. The trick is that for any one point, it might be a 1000 year event, but there are thousands of points, so such an event somewhere is LIKELY.
    September, 1989 rainfall from Hugo:
    Edisto Island, SC – 10.28
    Mount Pleasant, SC – 8.10
    Rainfall in Charleston this month has been very heavy, but not unprecedented.

  13. The is not a ‘complex meteorological event.’ It is a simple event. A low here, a high there, and a hurricane feeding into the nip. There, I described it in 13 words.

  14. climate change worsened the effects of an already extreme meteorological event.

    I see Mr Mann, it is an already extreme meteorological event, but now according to your exacting scientific verisimilitude, it is a worser extreme. Alfred E Newman would be proud.
    Traveling further down the poop chute of climate change, Doesn’t 1 in a thousand year rainfall claim undermine the anthropogenic CO2 argument since there is no evidence anthropogenic CO2 shows up every thousand years to create extreme rainfall? Mr Mann, Mr Mann, could you answer?

  15. There the Climate Liars go again; confusing weather with climate. And the low-information, low-IQ Believers will lap it up.

  16. Where’s his proof? Some “scientist.” Please quantify for us what the storm should’ve brought if climate change hadn’t worsened it.
    POS is like Al Gore, always hoping for the next devastating storm to use for his activist agenda. I wonder which circle of hell he’ll be on?

  17. But isn’t it more fun to “chicken little” this event, especially with the pending Paris meeting?

  18. USA Today/CNN Weather is saying this is the 6th 1,000-yr event in the US since 2010.
    What they don’t tell you is that there can be a 1,000-yr rain event over 1-hr. Or 2-hrs. Or 10-hrs. Or 24-hrs. Or 48 hrs. Or 72-hrs. Or any amount of time. So 1,000-yr events happen on average much more often than once every thousand years.

    • Doesn’t work like that. These events are hydrology terms used for the design. The basic events are 1 hr 10 yr storm used the design of small drainage areas. Like the channel running through your development. There’s a term called time to peak (Time to achieve maximum discharge)which establishes what storm to use. The other is a 24 hr 100 yr storm. (Used for larger drainage areas like rivers) Just those two for permanent structures. Temporary structures like a coffer dam would be desiged for less.
      We only have about 140 yrs of rainfall records. So we don’t even know what a 500 yr event would be. basically they’re just guesses. And pretty useless also….we don’t build things to last 500 yrs.

      • Yes, it does work like that. You can have an intense 1,000 yr, 1 hr storm event in Dallas, TX one day and then a prolonged 1,000 yr, 72 hr storm on another. Or you can have 1,000yr storms of the same duration (or different) in different parts of the US. Both are 1,000 yr events, and both might actually only happen once in 1,000 yrs. Yes, they are hydrology terms used for design…but are you trying to argue that a 24hr, 100yr storm is not an estimate of rainfall over 24hrs with a return period of 100yrs (call it 1/100 chance of happening every year, or likely to happen 1 out of 100 yrs)? Those time periods are not just made-up.
        There are a bevy of design storms, both in total rainfall and in rainfall pattern. It depends on location. And yeah, we are just guessing to what the 500-yr storm is. But we have statistical methods to estimate it.

  19. Mostly comments (in the news) from people that don’t know anything about statistics.
    If this was a once in a thousand year event that is just the estimated probability is 1/1000 based on current understanding of the conditions there. And lots of places around the world experience once in a thousand years events every year (remember many many thousands of places).
    At least one report quoted (I think) the governor as saying most rainfall in 1000 years. Which is just some mis-understanding.
    What would be news is a report that says we would have thought was a thousand year event but based on changed conditions (presumably AGW) we now think this will be a one hundred year event. 🙂

    • That’s not correct…..a design storm is defined as the maximum amount of rainfall with a certain period. It’s not a 1 in 1000 chance of it occurring. It’s pretty common to have this event….it has to do with storm isoheytals. And how they align with drainage areas. For instance in a 10 year storm. You might have that often. Because the atmosphere is limited on how moisture it can hold. Maximum short intensity storms can happen often. Usually a heavy thunderstorm will do this.

      • No, it is correct. Don’t take my word for it…take it from the USGS or any stormwater textbook.
        ‘…This question points out the importance of proper terminology. The term “100-year flood” is used in an attempt to simplify the definition of a flood that statistically has a 1-percent chance of occurring in any given year. Likewise, the term “100-year storm” is used to define a rainfall event that statistically has this same 1-percent chance of occurring. In other words, over the course of 1 million years, these events would be expected to occur 10,000 times. But, just because it rained 10 inches in one day last year doesn’t mean it can’t rain 10 inches in one day again this year…’
        “1-percent change of occurring in any given year” = “estimated probability 1/1000”
        If it was a 1,000 yr rainfall event somewhere in SC, then it was improper that no duration was given. But a 1,000 yr event has a 1/1,000 chance of happening in a given year (based on what rainfall data we do have and the statistical methods behind interpolating and extrapolating them to other return periods).
        Yes, you might have a 10-yr storm often, since the terminology implies you have a 10% chance of seeing one in a given year. And yes, maximum short intensity storms can happen often. A 10-yr storm need not just be short, though. It can be associated with a 24 hr or 72 hr duration though…which isn’t a short intense storm. Similarly, a 1,000 yr storm can be associated with a 1 hr intensity as well.
        You seem to have some idea about what you’re talking about, but you’re not getting it right.

  20. While thousand year events are rare, it’s a big world out there. That’s the fact that escapes (or is just ignored) the alarmists.
    If you have a million locations, the odds are you are going to get 1000 thousand year events, every year.

    • BTW, big wind Sandy was only a 100 year event. NYC has been hit by one of these about every hundred years since they have been keeping records.

      • Bob in 1991 barely missed NYC. TS Sandy landing on a high tide was a simple storm timed badly. People not preparing is an annual event.

    • Indeed, there are over 3000 counties in the US, so on average 3 counties should experience a 1000 year rain event every year. And in addition, every year 3 counties should experience a 1000 year drought event, heat event, cold event, snow event …. you get idea. As weather extremes are often very local, 1000 year events should be VERY common in the US since there are so many events and so many locations. This particular 1000 year event affected 10 to 20 counties in South Carolina.

  21. Thousand year storm? Try hurricane Floyd, in the Carolinas, no less; or tropical storm Alison (compare the rain totals), tropical storm Agnes, hurricane Irene in New England, Hurricane Diane in New England. Is here a pattern here. The moisture for this event was provided by hurricane Joaquin.

  22. “…A flooding disaster of this scale was unlikely to be sure, scientists say, but climate change has transformed once-in-a-lifetime events into periodic occurrences. The flooding may have been hard to predict, but it should no longer come as a surprise…”
    How was the flooding hard to predict? Because we’ve underestimated how much we’ve changed the landscape?
    I saw predictions for up to 20″ of rain in 24 hrs in some locations. The meteorologists got it right. There was no “surprise.”

  23. I saw a typhoon drop 22 inches of rain in 24 hours in South Vietnam in 1968. Our company was postioned along a small waterway at the time, and we watched it grow into a roaring river right before our eyes as the hours passed and the rain fell. We had to move to higher ground eventually.

  24. Until honest climate scientists (I’m assuming they exist) come forward and condemn the charlatans associating these weather events with alarmist beliefs about climate change they’re all charlatans in my book. The greatest disappointment in all of climate science is not the alarmists but those who allow themselves to be stained by alarmists and remain silent. I believe it is a consequence of them all being fed from the same trough.

    • The shameful way that honest people like Mr. Soon are tarred and feathered has a chilling affect on honesty, to be sure.
      But it only got this way because too many were silent for too long.

  25. “Records” (snow, floods, temperatures, etc.) assuming randomness, have a frequency of ‘Ln N’, where “N” equals years. This assumes the first year in the series is a ‘record’. It is derived from permutations of a series of random numbers (say 1 to 150) N= 150yrs, then, starting with the first year of the series as a record, Ln 150=5 says there will be about four successive records in the century (after the first year of the series). Ln 1000= ~7 and Ln3,000 = 8.
    Note more than half of the records starting 3000 years ago have a good probability of falling in the first 150years (5 of them) followed by one more in the next 250yrs (6th), one more in the following 600years (7th), which is year 1000, and then we are likely to wait 2000yrs more to beat that record.
    Of course, year 1 in a series is likely to be an ordinary year and the first few are similarly not likely to be significant records since they easily surpass the previous ones. If we had good historical information for a couple of thousand years ago on two or three successive big floods, we might try, from the spacing between such significant events to construct a more realistic future expectation for a monster flood. Possibly, the flood in North Carolina, if it is beyond any known in history, might be deemed to be a 2000yr flood.
    Finally, since we are dealing with probabilities, two “1000 yr floods” could occur within a few years of each other and then wait a very very long time for the next. Also, over very long periods, climate things don’t appear to be random, but for snowfall records, specific river valley floods, etc over a century or so of records, they seem a reasonable approximation. Comparatively short periods are the preoccupation of CAGW proponents in their pronouncements of the hottest year, longest drought, etc. and the little exercise in this comment shows how illogical such pronouncements are.

  26. One of the delightful things about my time in Charleston SC, was that the young ladies showed how to convert an extremely heavy rainfall into a fashion opportunity. I never saw so many well-turned Wellington boots, before or since.
    Now that’s what I call climate adaptation.

  27. If you have a degree in law or in public policy you really don’t know crap about diddly squat. That’s the problem with politics, it’s the uninformed saying ridiculous things that are crafted by an equally unaware speech writer, and between all of them they don’t know enough to know what they don’t know.
    and its equivalent
    If you have a degree in journalism you really don’t know crap about diddly squat. That’s the problem with journalism, it’s the uninformed saying ridiculous things that are crafted by equally unaware staff writers, and between all of them they don’t know enough to know what they don’t know.

  28. It has happened here before. Lots of times. Hugo, Fran, Hazel, and several unnamed that I remember. Some of the deaths were from plain stupidity. One lady drove into 5 ft of water in a railroad bridge underpass and drowned.
    That was before the big rain started. It was not the momentous event that the media is portraying it as. Heck, Clempson still played Notre Dame in the heaviest part of this mess and prevailed. It has rained for 6 days straight steady but not particularly heavy. Things are still a little soggy but the wind has been drying things out reasonably well.

  29. Back when The Great Alan Sullivan was still alive, he had a notion that NH tropical cyclones during autumn would “phase” with midlatitude weather systems. This would juice the tropical cyclone and at the same time hasten the onset of “deep fall” (leading to Winter) weather. Interesting concept which I think warrants further investigation (if not already in process).

  30. This was, I must say, quite stressful. I’m lucky though in that I I only saw about 1-12 inches where I live, and it was divided mostly between Friday and Sunday, with Saturday in between to all things to drain a little.
    People are chasing extremes in order to build a narrative, and when you actively chase extremes, you’re going to find them. It’s always going to be the hottest day EVA in B.F.E Kentucky, or the hottest 3-day span EVA in Nowhere, California, or the hottest evening temperature monthly average in Spain, or the hottest February.
    We just got a whole lot of rain, period. It doesn’t prove or disprove anything about the climate. All I know right now is I’m stressed and tired and will probably sleep well tonight knowing this crap has passed.

  31. There are approximately 130,000 accidental deaths in the U.S. every year, almost 2500 per week. Based on South Carolina’s population we would expect something north of 30 accidental deaths within the state in any given week. How do we attribute any specific death to a storm? You need to remember that many of these accident reports are written by public safety officers, who often do a difficult job, but nonetheless will be prone to reporting the simplest explanation possible, (I’ve been on over 200 volunteer EMT runs so I do have some sense of how cops think about “accidents”).

    • Could be far less random traffic accidents during such weather events because few are out on the streets.
      I have long been very interested in traffic fatalities stats, ever since coming very close to becoming one myself.
      Interesting that for many years, annual traffic fatalities hovered near the 40.000 mark.
      It was frequently noted how stubborn this number was, even as cars and roads become ever safer and more “survivable”, as with innovations such as improved guardrails, water filled drums and other energy absorbing materials at key locations, constantly improving tires, shoulder strap seat belts, antilock brakes, seat belt laws, electronic stability controls, air bags, better air bags, more air bags, etc.
      I recent years, those number of fatalities have declined at last, but there seems to be something in the human psyche that causes people to just drive faster and more carelessly, or whatever, when the vehicle they are driving become more safe to drive and less accident prone.
      Upon checking a little (a very little) further, it seems that the picture is somewhat more complex, as increasing population and vehicle miles driven make the number of fatalities per year a less telling statistic.
      Still…interesting thought you have Mark.

    • Thank you for the reminder. C.T. Haan (“Statistical Methods in Hydrology”) notes that V.M. Yevjevich (“Misconceptions in Hydrology and their Consequences”) states that the Probable Maximum is neither probable nor maximum. The morass has been described as the quagmire of marginal statistics. “Statistics of Extremes” by E.J. Gumbel is a good reference to have at hand when pulling the statistical boat through the leech-infested swamp.

  32. Another facts against the Mann:
    The LA Times reported that Mammoth Mtn resident Jonathan Bourne was arrested after public-posting a photo of him digging out a Native American bow near the edge of a retreating glacier, which had been buried under glacial ice, but was recently exposed due to global warming.
    Take Home Fact: the bow was lost/abandoned on open non-ice-covered ground. The glacier edge was at higher elevation back then than at present: Then afterwards, the glacier edge advanced, and buried the bow. The bow has not been carbon-dated.
    It needs to be. In any case, its discovery proves that the Western North American climate was warmer within the time-frame of earlier human settlement, than today. The discovery area is only about 100 miles from the famous Sheep Mtn bristlecone pine tree. Elevation of glacier’s edges beats tree-ring reading.

  33. Living along the East coast and Gulf coast, one should pay particular attention to geology; especially geology in relation to hydrological features.
    What is interesting are how many of the fields and hill valleys show hydrological formation wear evidence.
    Which causes one to ponder just how often the water rose that high to cause those wear patterns. Especially after a few damp hurricanes filled those same valleys only half way.
    A thought that’s often caused me to hope that I never see it rain hard enough to add more wear to the slopes.
    South Carolina and North Carolina have been flooded before and will be again. Those folks that insist on living in flood plains should expect wet feet every now and then or move upslope.
    What we should be glad of is that this wasn’t a snow or ice storm.
    Now those Bermudan folks that sat under the real Joaquin for days could probably use some help; food, water, clothing and construction materials.

  34. Paul Homewood has data on this over at Nottalot. Appears that NOAA cherry-picked one city that did receive record rainfall, but nearby cities have had similar events several times in recent history. We had a local T-storm in 2009 that dumped 2+” on me in about 15 minutes (replete with flash flood) but left my son dry just 3 miles south. This event was bigger (more widespread) but a lot of the totals depend on where the rain gauge is located.

  35. In the WaPo article, it is absolutely incredible that none of these “experts” would point out that 1) anticyclonic conditions reaching 1045 hPa HP covered the entire eastern continental US, from Labrador to the Gulf of Mexico as soon as October 1st 2) that the western wedge of a powerful 1035 hPa anticyclone initiated over western Europe was confining their depressionary edges of the two systems to a narrow band offshore that first brought rain and floods to the New Brunswick province of Canada. This configuration, independent of hurricane Joaquim shifted landward from Oct. 2 to Oct. 5. A strong pulse of the US anticyclone reached the Gulf of Mexico and its eastern edge brought its moisture to South Carolina while the high pressure wedge of the Atlantic anticyclone reached Florida waters, further narrowing the depression path at their intersection.
    On Oct. 3 both system were totally imbricated, and if Joachim contributed to some moisture it was quite limited, episodic. The existence of these two anticyclonic systems pushed Joachim at sea in a NE trajectory.
    As shown in the Water Vapor satellite of Oct. 5th published by WaPo, the essential of moisture did come from the Gulf of Mexico, advected by the US anticyclone. Joaquim is just an after thought there.
    So once again, the key of this situation is the active dynamics of strong, powerful anticyclones that have reached the 1040s hPa values early in the season, one covering the entire eastern continental US while the other, initiated from Scandinavia, covered western Europe and then pushed over the entire north Atlantic. Intense precipitations were funneled into the narrow depressionary band that marks the boundary between the two: the more powerful the systems (high pressure), the more intense, reaching southward toward waters with high latent heat potential, then released in a narrow band through violent updrafts.
    Once again, lower tropospheric circulation explains extreme meteorological events. Hardly a warming dynamic as on the contrary, this dynamic betrays the expulsion of colder Arctic air masses.
    The same type of dynamic usually brings “Cevenol episodes” in southern France where the moisture is this time coming from the Mediterranean Sea. Such a sudden event occurred this week-end over the Nice and Cannes area causing the highest precipitation values over Cannes since 1949.

    • @ Tomrude, Thanks for that explanation. I also noticed a band of moisture generated over the Great Lakes and that over the week of sept 28 – Oct 3 1-3 there was a large area of warm air there as well. Did that play a part?

      • Sept 28- Oct3 1-3 should read : Sept 28 – Oct 3, sorry. ( people in Toronto were walking around on the beach in shorts and swimwear)

  36. It will be coming very quick that Insurance Companies like State Farm, Prudential et al. will head M.E. Mann’s views that all Meteorological and Weather Events are caused by AWG.
    In the Insurance logic, since AWG is produced by every human being, i.e. every insurance holder, then such events as Lightening strikes, Wind storms, Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Hail, Floods as they are produced by AGW then every insurance holder is to blame.
    What Insurance company can give 3 Trillion dollars in claims of damages to a home owner who is the root cause of the clammily?
    Insurance companies do not give money to home owners who commit Arson on their own homes, in order to receive instance money.
    Ha ha

    • Read the small print on any policy, that’s been going on for years! And that is why they make all the bucks ( besides having really good lawyers and wordsmiths).

  37. Well done, Anthony!
    A very concise and well cited/documented post.
    The warmunists are running out of empirical evidence to confirm their already disconfirmed hypothesis, so they’re relegated to searching the globe for one-off weather phenomena, fiddling with raw data and ranking years to scare the aggressively ignorant.
    It’s getting pathetic and cannot last much longer.
    And so it goes, until it doesn’t…

  38. When I was a Physics student many years ago I happened to spend some time sharing accomodation with another student who had already received a first class honours and when I met him he was a supervisor and working towards a Ph.D.
    Now, bear in mind that this was a Physics Ph.D. at the very same top UK university that has now given shelter to such scientific masterminds as the renowned psychologist and honourary climate action activist, Stephan Lewandowsky.
    Damn, I have spoiled the point that I was about to make.
    Anyway, bearing in mind that I am discussing the pre-Lewandowsky days when there was a high bar of academic standards, my Physics Ph.D. studying pal was simultaneously obsessed with the early works of Deepak “Quantum Healing” Chopra and also a woman called Shakti Gawain, an early proponent of the modern “believe it and it will happen” new age bull.
    One might have imagined that years of the study of a rigorous and essentially rational subject such as Physics would have equiped him with the ability to spot such total bullcrap at a fair distance.
    Or at least, to prevent himself from drowning in the stuff.
    After numerous frustrating arguments, I gave up on trying to convince him that he could not alter the behaviour of the objective universe using only “consciousness”. At least not other than in the conventional manner, by performing some physical action.
    So – why am I pondering on these memories?
    Well – I am asking myself the very relevant question – is Micheal Mann, simply utterly deluded or is he simply a man with a taste for tropical beaches and cocktail umbrellas, who has seen an opportunity to cash in on the popular delusion of his age?
    Are his comments the product of stupidity, insanity, a lust for the high-life or perhaps by a psychopathic inability to admit error.
    Or all of these?
    Many people might imagine that the acquisition of a Physics Ph.D. demonstrates some degree of ability to think in a reasonable manner.
    My early life experience showed me quite clearly that this is not the case, Hence the long-winded story, for which I apologize.
    It’s time that the public was told, that highly qualified experts can also be imbeciles of the first order.

  39. Who cares about how long it has been since SC flooded; the point is I am here in the middle of this flood in SC and people are dead from being trapped in their homes; and all of you are worried about how many years it has been!!! Typical “Americans”!! SMH you all sound ridiculous!

    • Well, being hundreds of miles away from the disaster limits my ability to do much except talk about it and ponder the natural forces that brought it about. Perhaps someone here will get an inspiration that would help mitigate future disasters.
      I promise you, though, that if I were in the middle of this flood I would be out helping in whatever way I could, and I would certainly not be on a science blog making disparaging remarks about the conversation.

    • SMH?
      Stuck in twitter a lot there Darla?
      From the SC Governor “…There have been 14 deaths attributed to the floods,…”. Fourteen is a sad toll, but still minor compared to alleged scale of the floods.
      I don’t go calling you names when it floods up here. Nor do I understand why you go all emotional on line when you have flooding to deal with? Not to be terribly harsh, but don’t you have bigger things to be involved with?

    • Darla,
      In all sincerity, the loss of life is tragic, as is the destruction. By the same token, this was not an earthquake or tsunami that struck with no warning, and it’s a bit hard to understand how people could not avoid death given days of advance notice. I have to call into question the veracity of the weather “causing” the deaths. Around here a good rain storm will cause a spike in traffic accidents, which also come with deaths, which are equally sad, but those too could be avoided if people just respected the road conditions. Attributing deaths to the “storm” in this case ignores the human contribution to causation.

  40. someone commented on the high number of deaths (19) in the not-unprecedented French Riviera floods:
    5 Oct: Local, France: Who’s to blame for the Riviera flood deaths?
    While the president of the Alpes-Maritimes department Eric Ciotti said we have to admit a “form of powerlessness against nature”, others are pointing the finger of blame at the country’s weather agency Météo France, making it the prime target.
    Although weather warnings were in place, the ferocity of the storms took everyone by surprise and some are now blaming the country’s meteorological service Meteo France.
    On Saturday afternoon Meteo France had issued Orange alerts for storm and flood warnings for six departments including Alpes Maritimes, where most of the devastation took place…
    But some local politicians claim the Orange warnings are issued so often that they have become “trivialized” and Saturday’s storm clearly merited the issuing of a red warning.
    “We have about 20 Orange alerts each year. They’ve become so trivialized that no one takes the precautions seriously,” said Mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi…
    But Meteo France have issued a staunch defence of their actions, simply saying that with the technology they have available it would have been impossible to predict the fact the storms would intensify to such a deadly degree…
    others said the roots of the tragedy lay in the amount of intense construction the Riviera has seen in recent years, which has changed the nature of the area.
    Several of those who died were trapped in underground car parks that have become necessary due to the sheer numbers of people living on the Riviera and the need to maximize space.
    Michelle Salucki, the mayor of the town of Vallauris-Golfe Juan, where three people died after becoming trapped in a flooded tunnel, said “the concreting of town centres” was a factor in the disaster…
    Cecile Duflot from France’s Greens group also denounced the fact that many buildings on the Riviera are made “waterproof”, which prevents flood water from being able to run away freely…

  41. I watched this weather event as it occurred over a span of several days and when the low that was centered over about Birmingham, Alabama which was quite large in size interfaced with Joaquin it diverted the flow/moisture off the northern circulation of Joaquin west while the southern flow off the inland low fed into Joaquin. It looked like two pulleys with a fan belt wrapped around them with the moisture from Joaquin aimed at South Carolina. Without this inland low I don’t believe that the rain bands from Joaquin would have reached the US coast if the hurricane track remained the same.
    My best sources of reference were and GOES east. I don’t know how to retrieve the archives of the satellite views from GOES east and haven’t been able to go back in time on the nullschool site. I’ll try to provide last attempt to nullschool back one day :,36.78,1109
    If you can view those two resources back a couple of days and the different elevations available with nullschool it is a very interesting observation.

  42. I watched the TV news for several hours yesterday, waiting for the inevitable statements that the Louisiana Flood, Chinese Typhoon and Riviera flash flood were intensified somehow by “climate change”.
    I was not disappointed. Not in my expectation that such interpretations would be drawn.
    Clearly, I was disappointed, inasmuch as I am constantly disappointed by the failure of human reasoning and the failure of individuals to think independentally and skeptically and to take a look at the recorded trends, i.e. adopt a scientific attitude.
    Fortunately, the Sky interviewee who explained that events such as those witnessed were now more frequent due to climate change, was not a scientist and appeared to be in her early thirties.
    I cannot blame her for being utterly bamboozled by the onslaught of misinformation.
    She was thanked for her “insight” by the Sky interviewer. A man who clearly also is unable to discriminated between shit and shinola, or arses and elbows.
    We also learned that the French President had made this spurious association.
    Of course, much of the flooding was man-made.
    Water rushing down metalled roads into underground car-parks does so because it find the roads easy to rush down and the car parks easy to rush into.
    Primarily on account of its tendency to head in the direction of the lowest place.
    You can’t blame nature in this regard. ‘Twas always thus.
    But, clearly we have made a concrete and tile and asphalt paradise for ourselves and made insufficient account of the needs for equally artificial emergency storm drainage.
    We can look at this two ways – as an engineering problem or as a problem of development.
    Personally, I am convinced that with adequate funding engineering solutions in the form of drainage could remove most of the risk.
    We seemingly have the money and technology that allows men and women to permanently live in an aluminium can in orbit.
    I do believe that mankind has the money and technology to enable men and woman to permanently live on the Côte d’Azur.
    But the anti-development eco-left will always prefer to propose that we should strip back the adornments of civilisation and re-wild the planet by creating more boggy peatland, reed beds and woodland.
    They will also tend to suggest, that we deserved this misfortune as a penalty for having nice stuff.
    And that we should all go and live in a shed and grow potatoes and wear a beard.
    Or they will suggest that the problem is humans, period. And that we should find some way to cease to exist.
    Whilst there is a place for both technology and idiots in the world, Cannes is rich and I’m sure that Cannes intends to continue to be a built up populated area. So, why not spend public money on infrastructure. Massive drainage to the sea and massive emergency sumps.
    Once again though, we are going to see the wrong diagnosis and therefore the wrong prescription.
    The events will lead to the diversion of public funds to yet more pie in the sky money wasting renewable “innovation”. Yet more expensive and extraordinarily stupid “deep water” floating wind turbines. Because apparently mankind has run out of unoccupied windy land. Yet more experimental bird toasting mirror farms.
    More arable agricultural land given over to the production of replacement fuels, whilst under those lands lie heaps of fuel, untapped due to the total ban on effective gas extraction in France.
    Yet more generous funding for promises of cheap wave power, More bobbing metal floats in corrosive sea water, generating miniscule amounts of power at ten times the market value. Yet more solar electricity pouring into the grid on sunny bank holidays and then vanishing just as everyone returns home to use heating cooking and lighting. In short, more shit that doesn’t work but costs a fortune.
    And with the problem being most expensively “addressed” in this manner, then we can expect that shit-all of any practical effect will be done to aid the flash flood emergency drainage of Cannes and Marseille and next time a storm drops two months worth of rain on them in 2hours then all the cars will end up on big heaps at the bottom of the street. Again.
    Except that next time most of the cars will be hybrid, or all electric. And none of them will have defeat mechanisms.
    We need a defeat mechanism.
    We need to defeat the forces of stupid.
    Rant over…Did I miss anything out?!!

    • “But the anti-development eco-left will always prefer to propose that we should strip back the adornments of civilization and re-wild the planet by creating more boggy peat land, reed beds and woodland.”
      Loved your rant and agreed with most of it except your statement above, we had a river that used to be the main spawning river for land-locked Salmon. They “straightened” it out 50 years ago. The fish nearly disappeared.
      (Take a breath here)
      Now they ARE re-creating the natural “wandering” of the last 10 or so kms (5-6 miles) of the river as it used to be , recreating wetlands and spawning beds . It does work. But the whole community including the developers that wanted, no insisted the “river” frontage were “theirs” had to go along.
      The benefits far outweighed their greed. There are and will be more walk ways for people, horses, playgrounds for kids, educational centers, bird sighting spots and so on. ( dang one negative, more squiters)
      But you are right about one thing, do not buy low, buy the high ground!
      (as an aside the river is forever important to our lake and water system but as rivers go, no matter how vital it is to our valley it is a creek, compared to say the Columbia River but in it’s prime carried over 550,000 spawning fish each year ).

      • Thanks @asybot.
        I’m not really completely militant in my desire to put all the trees in a tree museum, pave paradise and put up a parking lot etc.
        Actually, I came over from the other side. I used to be a Guardian and Monbiot reading gullible twit.
        Now, I am inclined to simply dismiss all enviromentalist interference. But, really my complaint is with environmentalist ideologies.
        I have no problem with somebody buying up poorly performing farmland and replanting it with forest. No problem with somebody deciding to allow a specific low lying area to flood so as to create a wetland reserve for wildfowl.
        I only take issue with the new environmentalist ideology that the solution to all problems is to return to the natural condition. And by extension that any imposition of man upon the environment is intrinsically wrong.
        I don’t take that view.
        And I believe that that view has the potential to cause a great deal more harm than good.
        To humans, AND to the environment.
        As far as I am concerned, I’m a product of nature too, and yet – if I go and cut down some trees, dump them in a river and block up a major water way, causing flooding – then I’ll be arrested and fined.
        And yet – when a beaver does the same thing…
        Wait a minute, I seem to have started being silly!!

  43. It is a failure to consider that you won has because you point out the other person is factually incorrect , when the argument is not about facts in the first place .
    In cases like this which is a classic hit and run , where headlines are all that matter, it would be fair to say climate ‘scientists’ such has Mann have shown real skill. Indeed you could say it is their expertise in these hit and run approaches , of which the condense IPCC report which is all most politicians ever read is very much apart, is where there prime skill is actually found.
    The issue is how do you counter them, and that is the hard part for has they not primarily factual arguments it is simply not enough to point out the factual errors.

    • I am genuinely concerned that your analysis may be correct.
      And throw into the mix, that they have both the oil producing middle east and the Kremlin supporting their campaign of misinformation.
      Various self-interested parties.
      Putin clearly knows what he is doing.
      I suspect that Mann did not know once in the pre MacIntyre days,
      I can not possibly see how he could still believe in the climate on steroids schlock, even now.
      Even when his precious graph has been ditched by the IPCC and when the IPCC are unable to state that they have “confidence” that there may be more extreme weather events in the future. In the sense that stating that you have “low confidence” is effectively saying that you are unable to state that you have “confidence”.
      Who knows though. Maybe Mann really is just a deluded fool. That simple explanation is still plausible.
      Occam’s Razor, and all that!!

    • Unfortunately Paul, in spite of your valiant efforts, I would predict that not a lot of people will know very much about any of this for the foreseeable future. Since I suspect that @knr (comment directly above) may be correct.
      We are simply being strawman’d and ad homenim’d out of the game.
      I often imagine Lord Deben peering over his glasses like a figure in the final pages of a John LeCarre novel and saying, “well, old boy, it seems that one way or another you ended up on the losing side. You didn’t ever imagine that any of this was about the truth, did you? Oh, you did. You poor chap”.
      So sadly, I’m inclined to conclude that a lot of people will continue to not know a lot of things for quite some time.
      I don’t imagine that this will ever blow up in the style of the Iran-Contra affair.
      At most, we might hope for a gradual lessening of alarmist propaganda, perhaps over the course of the next fifty years.
      At which point the sea will boil and crash in over the land and wipe the alarmists from the face of the earth.
      That’ll teach ’em!!
      But returning to a serious tone. Thanks for all your wonderful work.

  44. Not even directly associated w/the hurricane itself. Oh, wait, CO2 causes such unusual interactions!

  45. This is another example of how Global Warming theology is actually a rudimentary religion, and has nothing to do with science.
    Millenia ago, atmospheric phenomena like lightning were explained by imagining a god hurling lightning bolts down from the heavens. Over time we learned more about the natural basis for lightning, and thus there was no more need for a god of lightning.
    Those who would ascribe mysterious phenomena to god today encounter this same “god of the gaps” issue. If god is used to explain away every unknown phenomenon then over time as we gain more knowledge and those gaps are filled there is less and less of a role for god in the world. This is why more advanced religions often resist falling into this “god of the gaps” trap.
    Now, it could be argued that just because we understand the physical basis for lightning, that doesn’t mean that a god of lightning might not be behind the scenes orchestrating each lightning strike. This isn’t a scientific argument, it if fully a religious/philisophical argument. The statement can’t be falsified because you can’t prove a negative, which makes it non-scientific.
    Here we have this exact situation. We have a freak rain event triggered by known weather phenomena, yet some argue that Manmade Global Warming is behind the scenes orchestrating it. These Global Warming acolytes are dragging mankind backwards by thousands of years to the bronze age with their rudimentary religious proselyting.

  46. [quote]Get that? A “meteorological phenomenon” not a climate phenomenon.[/quote]
    As has been explained to you many times before, the two are not mutually exclusive. All extreme weather is going to be the result of an unusual meteorological setup. It does not logically follow, however, that the extreme event was not made more likely or more severe by climate change.
    Here’s an example to help you: If I give you a die that has two 6’s on it, instead of the usual one…and you roll it many, many times until you get ten 6’s in a row, this can be attributed to an unusual event in the tossing that caused the 6 to come up ten times in a row in the tossing. However, that obviously doesn’t negate the fact that getting those ten 6’s in a row was made much more likely by giving you a die that had two 6’s on it rather than just one!
    [quote]The NVAP-M project shows total precipitable water (TPW) data is shown in Figure 4, reproduced from the paper Vonder Haar et al (2012) here. There is no evidence of increasing water vapor to enhance the small warming effect from CO2.[/quote]
    You haven’t shown any analysis to support your claim that there is no evidence of a trend in that data. And, there is other data that does show a clear trend. See, for example, , , and and references therein.
    (After all this time you still don’t know HTML? Square brackets (BB code) don’t work here. -mod.)

  47. “…You haven’t shown any analysis to support your claim that there is no evidence of a trend in that data. And, there is other data that does show a clear trend…”

    The same tired old nonsense Joel? results, not observations Not what you claim it is model results, not observations.

    • – Model results, not observations

      No…It is satellite observations that are compared to model results to see if they are better explained by a model that includes or does not include water vapor feedback. – Not what you claim it is

      It is a paper is a paper that discusses and has references into the literature on the water vapor feedback and the evidence that it is behaving as the models predict it to behave. – more model results, not observations.

      This one is the most strongly model-based, but it still uses models to investigate the question of whether the behavior seen in observations can be explained by natural forcings and variations or by anthropogenic forcings. And, it contains considerable discussion of the underlying data from satellite that it is seeking to do this attribution study on.
      The allergy you guys seem to have to any discussion of models, even in the context of compariosn to observations, is ridiculous and scientifically-immature.

  48. Published on May 8, 2014
    Rosalind Peterson, the US president of Agriculture Defence Coalition, addressing Geoengineering, SRM in UN meeting.

  49. RE joeldshore:
    **As has been explained to you many times before, the two are not mutually exclusive. All extreme weather is going to be the result of an unusual meteorological setup. It does not logically follow, however, that the extreme event was not made more likely or more severe by climate change.**
    ****As has been explained to you many times before, the two are not mutually exclusive. All extreme weather is going to be the result of an unusual meteorological setup. It does not logically follow, however, that the extreme event was made more likely or more severe by climate change.****
    Removed the word “not”. Sounds better.

    • I actually agree with your wording too. The point is that the statement that there was an unusual meterological setup alone does not in and of itself provide evidence either way.
      There are things, however, that can provide evidence, such as a trend in extreme events over time, particularly if the trend matches what is predicted by modeling to occur in response to an increase in greenhouse gases.

      • Yeah…It is not like James Hansen has ever been recognized for his scientific achievements by his peers in the scientific community, besides being elected to the National Academy of Sciences, winning the American Meteorological Society’s Carl-Gustaf Rossby Research Medal, being elected a fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), winning the Roger Revelle Medal of the AGU, winning the Leo Szilard Award of the American Physical Society, and winning numerous NASA awards.

      • It is not like James Hansen has ever been recognized for his scientific achievements by his peers in the scientific community
        Honor among thieves.
        Emphasis on ‘thieves’.

      • Oh yeah – Bill Gray will likely never win the Rossby award….
        Ah, he had a good list:

        Recent AMS Awardees. Since 2000 the AMS has awarded its annual highest award (Rossby Research Medal) to the following AGW advocates or AGW sympathizers; Susan Solomon (00), V. Ramanathan (02), Peter Webster (04), Jagadish Shukla (05), Kerry Emanuel (07), Isaac Held (08) and James Hansen (09). Its second highest award (Charney Award) has gone to AGW warming advocates or sympathizers; Kevin Trenberth (00), Rich Rotunno (04), Graeme Stephens (05) Robert D. Cess (06), Allan Betts (07), Gerald North (08) and Warren Washington and Gerald Meehl (09). And the other Rossby and Charney awardees during this period are not known to be critics of the AGW warming hypothesis.
        The AGW biases within the AMS policy makers is so entrenched that it would be impossible for well known and established scientists (but AGW skeptics) such as Fred Singer, Pat Michaels, Bill Cotton, Roger Pielke, Sr., Roy Spencer, John Christie, Joe D’Aleo, Bob Balling, Jr., Craig Idso, Willie Soon, etc. to ever be able to receive an AMS award – irrespective of the uniqueness or brilliance of their research.

      • “Honor among thieves.
        Emphasis on ‘thieves’.”
        Yes…So, the major scientific societies in the U.S. and most other nations have all been taken over by “thieves” because they refuse to align their science with your ideology?

        • “So, the major scientific societies in the U.S. and most other nations have all been taken over by “thieves” because they refuse to align their science with your ideology?”
          I think what he means is…
          “The major scientific societies in the U.S. and most other nations have all been taken over by “thieves” because they refuse to align their ideology with actual science?”
          Joel, the first thing you should get it that “appeals to authority” hold little weight here.

      • “Joel, the first thing you should get it that “appeals to authority” hold little weight here.”
        Yes…They have little weight because the scientific authorities almost all disagree with you. That is why you guys adopt a “poisoning of the well” approach, so that you can ignore the fact that most of those who are qualified to evaluate the science disagree with you.
        Nobody here has ever been able to explain to me how we can use science to inform public policy if we do not assume that the best people to evaluate the science are the scientists. If you guys can’t come up with a way to do this, you are essentially just saying that you don’t believe that science should be used to inform public policy…at least in cases where the science conflicts with your ideology.
        Hence, your position is fundamentally anti-science, although you will never state it that way. Instead, you will just claim that you can evaluate the science better than the scientists (or that because you can find a few scientists who agree with you, that somehow negates the fact that most of the scientific community does not).

        • But Joel…I am an atmospheric scientist. Most of the drivers of opinion on this site are highly qualified scientists. We generally disagree with claims of catastrophic global warming. So do most of my retired college professors. So do my co-workers. We are a large crowd.
          The argument that “scientists say it is so and the rest of you are knuckleheads” is ridiculous and insulting.
          If you would like to actually argue some science, have at it. If you just want to appeal to the great authorities, then check out the recent Washington Post article on saturated fat. A few influential scientists got it wrong and passed weak science to the government who made it dogma. A giant “low fat” industry was born. Forty years later, the damage has been enormous. Many here think the same is being done with global warming and, as scientists, won’t stand silently by while weak science is passed as fact.

      • Mary – A few comments in response:
        (1) “If you would like to actually argue some science, have at it.” I was in fact doing that until “Abe” distracted us by making these claims, then essentially supported by others, that Hansen has not done any real science and that all the major scientific organizations have been corrupted (because they don’t agree with these people’s ideologically-driven conclusions of what the science says) and so forth.
        (2) “I am an atmospheric scientist.” Well, when you are posting under the name of “Mary Brown”, it is sort of hard for us to know who you really are and what your credentials are. I post under a complete enough (and, by good fortune, unusually enough) name that people can readily look up what my scientific background and credentials are.
        (3) “Many here think the same is being done with global warming and, as scientists, won’t stand silently by while weak science is passed as fact.” And, I do not have any problem with the idea of scientists, like Roy Spencer, Roger Pielke Sr., or yourself trying to convince their colleagues of a different view. What I do have a problem with is the implication that, when it comes to using science to inform public policy, we should do it in a way that is different from the way we do it on every other subject. And, that way is by having review panels like the IPCC, the National Academy of Sciences, … summarize the current state of the science. Especially, when the only logic to when we should listen to the scientific evaluation and when we should ignore it seems to come down to whether the scientific evaluation agrees with the desired ideology. I don’t think this is good when done by conservatives on subjects like climate change or evolution, nor when done by liberals on subjects like GMO’s, because what it is really a recipe for is to abandon any attempt to use science to inform public policy decisions. I also think it is generally the last refuge of people on the losing side of the scientific debate.
        (4) You give the example of the medical science regarding fat intake. However, I think that the physical sciences are on a stronger footing than the medical sciences because the human body is very complicated and hence the studies come down mainly to purely empirical statistical studies fraught with problems. Furthermore, I would argue that the role of a scientist who thought the advice was bad to try to change the opinion of their fellow scientists so that the recommendations are changed, rather to just argue that we should ignore the recognized processes and channels for having science guide policy decisions. (Or, they should come up with concrete ways to improve this process.)
        The question really boils down to whether we are going to let science or ideology inform public policy decisions. And, while ideology has a role to play in the decisions themselves (since these involve values), it should as much as possible be excluded in having a role in saying what the current science actually says.

  50. There are 1063 cities in the world with half a million people or more. I would expect a one-in-a-thousand flood to hit one of them about once a year on average.
    If you see somebody do something crazy tomorrow and think that was a “one-in-a-million”, then it happens 7200 times a day… because there are 7200 million people on earth.
    Earth…it’s a big place.

  51. papiertigre on October 5,
    2015 at 8:25 pm
    I saw an interview with a
    resident of South Carolina.
    They were standing in
    water knee deep in front
    of her house which was
    built on stilts, the carport
    underneath, the house
    proper two stories
    another fifteen feet up.
    If it only flooded there
    knee deep once in a
    thousand years, why the
    Yep, papiertigre. Only reasonable question.
    Only reasonable answer.
    but then: You wan’t spoil the bureaucrats joy of shoving academics the political right way, will You.
    Best Regards – Hans

  52. I feel the need to clarify some accidental misinformation that has been on the lips and minds of many the past few days.
    I want to answer the question: What exactly is a ‘1000 year flood’?
    This term has been used often the past couple of days and, in fact, in some pretty high places, but if you are not a floodgeek the term can be easily misunderstood and even more easily misused, when trying to describe the enormity of this past weekend’s historical flood event.
    A ‘1000 year flood’ or a ‘1000 year event,’ does not mean that the flood event will only happen only once every 1000 years.
    The term ‘1000 year’ is a statistical way of expressing the odds of something, in this case a flood, occurring in any given year.
    A ‘1000 year flood’ event is a flood event that has a one in one thousand chance of happening in any given year. You will also see it expressed as a “0.1 percent annual-chance-flood” (FEMA’s latest lingo for it).
    While a storm of this magnitude is highly unlikely to occur again any time soon, we can conceivably see a storm of this proportion and intensity again in our lifetimes (although, we certainly hope and pray that is not the case!!)
    If it makes it easier, think of it as a mathematical probability that a storm like this one we have just experienced over the weekend will happen again anytime soon.
    Likewise, a ‘500 year flood’ event has a 0.2 percent annual chance of occurring in any given year and a ‘100 year flood’ has a 1 percent annual chance of occurring in any given year.
    Obviously, a “100 year flood’ has a higher probability of occurring than does a “1000 year flood’.
    In the same manner, storms can be described as 2-, 5-, 10-, 25- and ’50 year’ storm events. The smaller the number, the higher the probability of that storm event occuring in any given year. (I’ll let you have the enjoyment of computing the probability for yourself!!)
    It is important to note here that many communities have had multiple ‘100 year’ floods in the same year! While this is statistically highly unlikely, it HAS happened (and could happen again)!
    Thus, the need for flood insurance, since your standard homeowner’s policy does not cover events due to rising water; i.e. floods!! If your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), you CAN purchase federally backed flood insurance EVEN IF YOU DO NOT LIVE IN A SPECIAL FLOOD HAZARD AREA (SFHA), or what is more commonly referred to as a ‘floodplain’.
    Sending thanks out tonight to those who have attempted to ‘get it right” on explaining the ‘1000 year’ term!
    Good night all!!

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