Something’s Rotten in D.C., and It Isn’t Those Rain Totals

Reposted from Awesome Weather Facts Blog

By Chris Martz | July 9, 2019

It seems as if every day, there’s someone linking ordinary and not-so-ordinary weather events to the “climate crisis.” Dare I say that we should actually do a little fact-checking first.

Nope, we know the answer already. Climate change causes all weather events, big and small, normal and rare.”


Yet, while my italicized quote is supposed to be funny, that kind of mentality has embedded itself into our reality.
On Monday, July 8, Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) stated that “Unprecedented flooding is quickly becoming a new normal. Despite that, Republicans are tripling down on fossil fuels w/no plan to transition off them, or make the critical infra investments we need to prep for the climate crisis. Each day of inaction puts more of us in danger.”

https://twitter.com/AOC/status/1148283312798126080

The irony of her statement - when was the last time a politician actually cared about the people they represent? Okay, okay, I’m going to stick to the science!
The congresswoman also stated that extreme weather or weather-related events like flooding and wildfires have gotten worse due to the “climate crisis.” (I’m using “climate crisis” in order to be more scientifically precise, like The Guardian stated they would do with their articles. That was pure sarcasm).

Her reference to “unprecedented flooding” was fueled off of headlines detailing flooding in the Washington, D.C. area (where I live and forecast the weather). Indeed, she was right in the sense that the flooding on Monday was impressive, but the usual scaremongering tactic of blaming fossil fuel emissions on the event is just plain pseudoscience and superstition, and doesn’t root itself in reality.
According to the National Weather Service office in Sterling, Virginia, official observations from Reagan National Airport indicate that 3.44 inches of rain fell Monday, July 8. This rainfall was not only a record for the date (old record was 2.16 inches from 1958), it was a little over 92% of D.C.’s average July monthly total rainfall of 3.73 inches!

All of this was caused by a complex of slow-moving thunderstorms that rolled through the area Sunday evening and Monday morning (I can confirm since I live in the area). This was not caused by magic CO₂ fairy dust in the atmosphere.
Flash floods from thunderstorms generally occur when thunderstorm cells are slow-moving, or when different thunderstorm cells move over the same area over and over again.¹ The severity of a flash flood - in terms of how fast it develops and how high the water levels get - depend upon factors like the duration of the rain, the rainfall intensity and terminal velocity of raindrops, and/or soil moisture.¹ Sunday evening and Monday morning, the storms were slow-moving and rainfall intensity was high. In addition, last year (2018) was the wettest year on record in Washington, D.C. with 66.28 inches of precipitation falling on the city.² 2019 has also been a pretty wet year, with 27.12 inches of rain falling so far.² Thus, soil moisture remains high, and as a result, excess water from rain or runoff can’t seep into the ground, creating a higher risk for flash floods.

Figure 1. Total precipitation January – December in Washington, D.C. 1872 – 2018,

So, with that said, does her claim about “unprecedented flooding” in D.C. hold any water? Spoiler alert, it doesn’t!
Before I show the statistics, her statement doesn’t even make any sense. If each new flood is “unprecedented,” then that’s climatologically not “normal.” So how can it become normal? Maybe she means that flash/inland/river flooding is the new normal? If so, that’s still wrong. Two strikes in a row AOC, the third is OUT.
Washington, D.C. has a long history of flash flood events, river flooding, and heavy rainfall events, most of which are not even noteworthy because they happen so often, especially the during spring and summer as daytime heating and high dew points act as “trigger mechanisms” to initiate thunderstorm development in the afternoon hours.

Heavy Rainfall Events


Meteorologist Kevin Williams of Rochester, New York made note that of the top ten heaviest 24-hour rainfalls in D.C., only two of the ten have occurred this century. Of the eight heaviest 24-hour rainfalls to be officially recorded in D.C. during the 20th century, seven of them occurred prior to 1975, and five occurred prior to 1970.

So, obviously, heavy rainfall events in D.C. are not a new thing. What about actual floods?

Some Select Flash Floods & River Flooding in D.C.

David Birch, a friend of mine and a well-known solar researcher in the climate community sent me this link Monday afternoon, which has a list and description of some of Washington, D.C.’s largest flood events in memory.
So, let’s break it down.
1. The “Great Fresh Flood” of May 1771 was devastating to the Virginia colony and Washington, D.C. area.³ ⁴ The Virginia Gazette reported, “…From the mountains, to the Falls, the low Grounds have been swept of almost every Thing valuable; and the Soil is so much injured that it is thought not to be of Half its former Value, and a great Part is entirely ruined…³

2. On June 2, 1889 the Potomac River crested 12.5 feet above flood stage. Many streets, including Pennsylvania Avenue were flooded (Figure 2).⁴

1889

Figure 2. Pennsylvania Avenue flooded on June 2, 1889 in Washington, D.C. Photo credit: Library of Congress.

3. The Flood of March 17-19, 1936 was one of Northern Virginia’s, Maryland’s, and D.C.’s worst natural disasters in history.⁵ This flood is often noted as the “Record Flood of 1936,” “Great Potomac Flood,” or the “St. Patrick’s Day Flood of 1936.”⁵
March of 1936 was pretty warm in Washington, D.C., averaging 3.5°F above normal for the month, despite frequent drastic temperature swings from the 40s to the 70s and back.²
Most of Eastern West Virginia, Northern Virginia, and Maryland had received their entire March monthly average rainfall by mid-month.⁵ While most of the rainfall events were relatively small, the high frequency of them that March allowed stream water levels to increase.
The storm that caused the major flooding was on St. Patrick’s day in 1936, when a deepening low in the Carolinas pushed southeast winds and moisture into the region causing intense rainfall.⁵ While most areas in and around the D.C. area saw less than two inches of rain, areas to the west, like the Blue Ridge Mountains received well over four inches of rain in that two day period.⁵ The list below is from the National Weather Service. You can see just how impressive those two-day totals were (Figure 4).

Figure 3. Two-day rainfall totals from the March 1936 storm.

4. The “Record Flood of 1942” unfolded over an eight-day period; October 11-18.⁴ During this event, D.C. picked up over six inches of rain, and floodwaters reached the steps of the Jefferson Memorial (Figure 4).⁴

Figure 4. Jefferson Memorial steps flooded in October 1942 flood.

5. The Flash Flood of August 11, 2001 was one for the books (Figure 5). What’s odd about this flash flood event was that it occurred in a narrow band stretching from Warrenton, Virginia to Washington, D.C.⁴ Some storm reports from D.C. and nearby communities noted that upwards of seven inches of rain fell that day.⁴ Reagan National Airport only received 0.92 inch of rain during the event.²

Figure 5. Flash flood of August 11, 2001.




Weather vs. Climate


People like Representative Cortez seem to have a very difficult time grasping the fundamental differences between weather and climate, which is the fact that weather is based on short-term atmospheric conditions and climate is based long-term trends.

Any individual weather event - regardless of how extreme it is and whether or not it’s unprecedented - can simply not be used as evidence for OR against changes in Earth’s climate system. The atmosphere - as we know - is very chaotic in nature and any type of extreme weather event is bound to happen at some time or another notwithstanding global average temperature change.

If you look at the trends in global lower tropospheric temperature since 1979, you’ll see that they have undoubtedly gone up, yet we’ve always had floods (hear that AOC?), we’ve always had hurricanes, we’ve always had tornadoes, wildfires, dust-devils, droughts, heat waves, cold waves, thunderstorms, blizzards, and monsoon seasons. While the frequency and/or intensity in such events may or may not alter in either direction due to changes in the climate, because they have always happened, because they’re prone to happen, and because there’s a lack of sufficient global long-term data, it is extremely difficult and arrogant to pinpoint one weather event as evidence of a “climate crisis.”

Flash flood events like the one that occurred on Monday in D.C. are associated with thunderstorms, which are considered “severe convective storms.” According to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), there is very little evidence to link thunderstorms to man-made climate change, global warming, the climate crisis, or ecological breakdown - whichever way you’d like to call it.⁶

Figure 6. Climate change and extreme weather – National Academy of Sciences (NAS).

If I were to sum up this nonsense in one sentence I’d say, “There’s something rotten in D.C., and it isn’t those rainfall totals, it’s clueless politicians.”

REFERENCES

[1] “Thunderstorm Hazards – Flash Floods” National Weather Service. Accessed July 9, 2019. https://www.weather.gov/jetstream/flood.
[2] xmACIS2. Accessed July 9, 2019. https://xmacis.rcc-acis.org/.
[3] Yeck, Joanne. “The Great Fresh of 1771.” Slate River Ramblings… March 13, 2017. Accessed July 9, 2019. https://slateriverramblings.com/2017/03/13/the-great-fresh-of-1771/.
[4] Ambrose, Kevin. “Floods – Washington Area Floods.” WeatherBook.com. Accessed July 9, 2019. https://www.weatherbook.com/flood.html.
[5] “1936 Flood Retrospective.” National Weather Service. Accessed July 9, 2019. https://www.weather.gov/lwx/1936Flood.
[6] “Climate Change and Extreme Weather.” Penn State Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science. Accessed July 9, 2019. https://www.e-education.psu.edu/meteo3/l10_p9.html.

Posted by Chris Martz Weather at
9:06 PM

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68 thoughts on “Something’s Rotten in D.C., and It Isn’t Those Rain Totals

    • And she’s swallowed the CAGW lexicon hook line and sinker. …..’unprecedented event’…..’existential threat’…Orwellian CAGW new speak.

      • No. As her Chief of Staff stated, it is not about climate. He said it is about changing America’s society and economy. Socialists.

          • Probably true, Wally. What those cheering on “free stuff for all” don’t realize is the absolute control of the elites that is required to get there. An unelected bureaucrat directing your life is far scarier than some rich capitalist trying to get you to buy her stuff.

  1. Don’t these people ever get bored of this drivel? I used to be afraid of all these claims, but nowadays I find them dull and repetitive. And ofc as the saying goes, if you push a lie too much people will start believing its true, and people do fall for this nonsense. I read somewhere that psychiatrists are frequently getting patients who have been psychologically disturbed from reading too much climate change/global warming stuff online, on the news and in the papers. Many of these patient are kids.

    • I believe it was that great Humanitarian Vladimir Illych Ulianov who said, “If you repeat a lie often enough it becomes the truth!”, & the other great Humanitarian Albert Shicklegruber who said a few years later in his wonderfully inspirational piece of prose, Mein Kampf, “the mass of the people would more readily believe areally big lie than a small one!”.

      What goes around comes around, as they say!

      • To be accurate & fair, Hitler was referring to Zionist’s repetition of lies in Mein Kampf, though English ‘translations’ always leave that part out.
        And no, Ulianov was not the originator of that expression. Lenin said it, Stalin said it, as did Churchill, FDR, & many more. It’s been around since there has been politics.
        Accuracy matters.

        • To be accurate & fair, Hitler was referring to Zionist’s repetition of lies

          that where produced by the redaction of his Kampfblatt “Der Stürmer [sic]” under the propaganda ministry of
          Joseph Goebbels.

          in Mein Kampf,

    • Hi Steve, I’m Chris Martz, the guy who wrote this article…

      Thanks for bringing Hurricane Camille to my attention! Sorry I didn’t add it in. Totally slipped my mind, but at least my article proves my point! Ha ha!

      • Chris, thanks for the reply (-:

        I only knew about it because I had a part time job driving a AAA tow truck in Arlington, VA at the time. The AAA contractor was on Wilson boulevard which flooded. I was on call to a AAA subscriber for what I don’t remember, but I do remember driving in flooded streets and passing by a stranded car and a driver trying to flag me down. I didn’t stop, he was unhappy.

        I was enlisted in the Navy at the time, and my day job was at the Main Navy Building on Constitution Ave. in D.C. It’s gone now.

  2. “–we’ve always had floods (hear that AOC?), we’ve always had hurricanes, we’ve always had tornadoes, wildfires, dust-devils, droughts, heat waves, cold waves, thunderstorms, blizzards, and monsoon seasons.”

    You left out dogs and cats sleeping together.

    If that silly bimp AOC had a working brain cell, she’d be a lot more dangerous. She’s only doing this (and everything else she does) to get attention. I’m waiting for her to come zooming into view of a news camera wearing a robe and a halo, with a sign on a stick that reads “Hallelujah! I’m hear to salve you! Follow me and you’ll fine the Algorebull Ultimatum!” or something like that. (Misspellings are intentional.)

    There’s a reason WDC is sometimes referred to as The Swamp. It IS a swamp, and the Potomac River is only one of the tributaries that run into the Atlantic.

    • If history serves me rightly, both the UK Houses of Parliament AND the Capitol buildings in Washington are built on former “malarial” swamps!!!

      • You would almost think, that the Founders placed the Seat of Government in a place so utterly unsuitable for a city, that nobody would actually want to live there all year round. The lack of drainage would prevent it from ever becoming too much of a fiscal drain on the States.
        Unfortunately, they did not foresee technological advances in sewage management.

      • If history serves me rightly, both the UK Houses of Parliament AND the Capitol buildings in Washington are built on former “malarial” swamps!!!

        And if you go back far enough both lay in the depths of the ocean, which explains why both houses are full of bottom feeders.

    • I would bet that Rapinoe (US soccer team) is in effect imitating AOC to draw attention to herself. What a self aggrandizing piece of work that one is. She may have the headlines for now, but I think she misjudges what the public actually thinks of her outspoken ways.

  3. The big rise has been in the number of video & image recording devices and their incorporation into daily life, massively increasing the amount of time that they are available to record video. That growth in available images and videos, was clearly recognised by those involved in the “weather porn” industry, and the growth in weather porn has clearly been recognised by some politicians who are now riding the coat tails of its publicity.

    However, whilst this weather porn and weather porn chasing politicians is a new phenomenon, in many places, mobile phones with video recording are so ubiquitous that it seems to me impossible to get any growth. And just how many times will people want to view yet another very normal if infrequent rainstorm?

  4. the world is seeing many flooding events (and consequential deaths)
    for an increase in rain it is obvious that more moisture has to be in the atmosphere. Just how does it get there?
    One should be asking does cold cause more evaporation or warmth cause more evaporation?

    • The questions AOC should be asking are:

      (i) Is rainfall increasing in Washington DC? According to the long-term data posted in this article the answer is no, so climate change can’t be blamed for the recent flood.

      (ii) Are flood events increasing in general? According to this recent peer-reviewed study from the Journal of Hydrology, the answer is no. So once again climate change can’t be blamed.
      https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S002216941730478X#%21
      https://www.climatedepot.com/2017/08/30/new-study-on-floods-finds-approximately-the-number-expected-due-to-chance-alone-no-global-warming-signal/

    • “Begging the question” alert!
      “for an increase in rain…”

      You START with the premise there is increased rain. Isn’t that supposed to be part of the conclusion of your argument?!?

      Re-read the article; it documents that heavy rain and flooding existed in that area for centuries.
      The world always has had “many flooding events (and consequential deaths)”.

    • The world has always seen many flooding events. There is zero evidence that the number or severity of floods is increasing.

    • “ghalfrunt July 11, 2019 at 4:51 am
      the world is seeing many flooding events (and consequential deaths)
      for an increase in rain it is obvious that more moisture has to be in the atmosphere. Just how does it get there?”

      More baseless claims based upon “Argumentum ad Ignorantiam”, i.e. appeals from ignorance.

      More moisture in the atmosphere?
      Exactly what do you think El Ninos do?
      El Ninos’ are massive water vapor pumps. As Joe Bastardi highlights, nighttime and winter warmth is strongest where the atmosphere is normally very dry. Increased water vapor raises minimum temperatures and provides moisture for precipitation.

      Be thankful!
      Warmth and water are excellent for life! Cold and dry periods are deadly.

    • Wind causes most evaporation, because if you haven’t noticed, no where on the surface is it 100 C.
      One rainy year does not make a trend. Regional wise, dry and wet years tend to occur together. In a few years we’ll have another drought and the climate cult will be back to claiming that droughts are the new normal.

    • ghalfrunt, do you even bother reading the ultimate driver of your propaganda-driven ideology? The UN IPCC’s AR5 says that, despite marginally more rain, there has been no increased flooding.

      Why don’t you give us your real name and background? Something to hide? Like Mr. Mosher now hustling solar electricity?

    • One should also ask how conditions which are opposite of the predictions made about CO2 induced warming are now claimed to be proof of such by the high priests in the church of omnipotent greenhouse in carbon.
      The warmth during Arctic winters is adequately explained by warm ocean cycles, as is the increased tropospheric and stratospheric moisture. Note please, that summer Arctic temperatures have not been anomalous and mid-latitude temps only show a decrease in diurnal range, with night time lows having increased.
      Reality has debunked their theoretical predictions, so the meme has been expanded to include present observations and the claim is made that all things occurring are results of CO2 “pollution”.
      Folks with common sense know that a theory which predicts everything effectively predicts nothing.

  5. This is a science site.
    Has anyone noticed that periods of heavy precipitation can be caused by the onset of cooling?
    Superstorm Sandy was the result of a dying Hurricane bumping into a cold front.
    As the Dalton Minimum forms, there will be more of these “Climate Change” heavy precipitation events.
    Look also for more earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. I don’t know why, but they go with sudden cooling.

    • Still looking for any science in any of that. Just wondering if you have heard the science expression correlation does not equal causation.

  6. at 17:40 2 Jul Siberia floods kill at least 18 people

    14:37 2 Jul Heaviest rain for a decade in Mumbai

    16:55 28 Jun RAF flood response to cost up to £1m
    The breach in the River Steeping led to 580 homes in Wainfleet being evacuated due to flooding.

    in, floods in China force evacuation of nearly 80,000

    etc, etc

    so many in just 2019

    • 40 years ago you would not have know anything about any of them. Just because we can now gather up the information at the touch of a keyboard does not make weather change. It only changes our perception of it, to have an understanding of what going on it takes a clear unbiased mind and a lot of research. Both qualities you seem to lack. Please go back and do you home work and determine when the ten wettest years were world wide, also only use weather station that existed during the entire time period. I strongly suspect you would find something out that does not support it raining more today than it did in the past.

      • Exactly! More, instant, reporting especially weather events in this age of alarmism, not more weather events.

  7. Wait so now increased rain is global warming? I thought we were supposed to bake in hell or something. So hard to keep up with the Church of Climastrophy.

  8. im sorta hoping for a decent CME ripper quake or another couple of huge volcanic events
    simply to give the gullibles a REAL reason and topic to have their hissy fits over.
    something real and immediate to wake em up/focus attention on something actual not ephemeral

    • Not me. I want to be long dead and gone before another Carrington event. And a year without a summer? Count me out.

  9. From the article: “Meteorologist Kevin Williams of Rochester, New York made note that of the top ten heaviest 24-hour rainfalls in D.C., only two of the ten have occurred this century. Of the eight heaviest 24-hour rainfalls to be officially recorded in D.C. during the 20th century, seven of them occurred prior to 1975, and five occurred prior to 1970.”

    So, in other words, AOC is wrong when she says the rainfall was “unprecedented”.

    AOC and the other alarmists need to look at history more before going and claiming something is unprecendented. We don’t really have many unprecendented events connected with the Earth’s daily weather. For every extreme event we see today, we can find a more extreme event of a similar nature in the past, before CO2 was thought to be significant.

    When alarmists use the word unprecendented, they are basically describing a false reality every time. The good thing about it is it is easy to prove they are wrong, as with the quote above.

    • Like tornadoes, hurricanes, etc, more observations of rain now (more gauges), so more extreme events will be detected/documented.

    • But the media doesn’t publish the factual rebuttal, Tom. So the original falsehood is left in peoples’ minds.

  10. From the article: “According to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), there is very little evidence to link thunderstorms to man-made climate change, global warming, the climate crisis, or ecological breakdown - whichever way you’d like to call it.⁶”

    I don’t see *any* evidence for man-made climate change much less any evidence that humans are causing weather events to behave abnormally. Perhaps the NAS can direct us to this “little evidence” they think they have.

    Of course, I’ve asked for evidence for years and haven’t been offered any yet by the alarmists. Maybe this time will be different. Any bets?

  11. Every cloud, every raindrop, and especially every thunderstorm, is an open demonstration that heat cannot actually be “trapped” at the surface. It may take a few more years for this to become common knowledge again, but bad science is not sustainable in the long run. The greenhouse effect diminishes with altitude, and weather delivers just enough heat up there to keep it livable down here. If precipitation is “unprecedented” then so is the localized power with which weather shows us that there can be no climate “crisis” from a mild warming trend.

  12. “All of this was caused by a complex of slow-moving thunderstorms that rolled through the area Sunday evening and Monday morning (I can confirm since I live in the area). This was not caused by magic CO₂ fairy dust in the atmosphere.”

    Excellent Article Chris Martz | July 9, 2019!

    Brainless aoc fails to mention that those of us just fifty miles south of DC barely got wet during the same weather event.
    You are correct that slow moving thunderstorms drenched their paths and only their paths; while large areas just outside of the patchy thunderstorms were left dry or barely received a sprinkle.

    Nor are flooding events unusual. Aoc’s “unprecedented” is all baseless dramatization uttered by someone who specializes in abject ignorance regarding history.

    • Well, she hasn’t seen it before. In her experience of DC weather events, it was unprecedented. *

      *(Admittedly, her experience is less than one full swing through the seasons.)

  13. Figure 6 is hilarious. Classic Penn State climastrology right there. First, they use qualitative terms, that’s your first sign that it’s not science based. Then they claim that cold snaps are the most confidently associated weather event with climate change? Of course, the polar vortex is new and unprecedented meme, how could I forget, and let’s just ignore that they are contradicting themselves on what they wrote at the top of that propagan..err webpage.

    • The entirety of CliSci hinges on one and only one assumption: Water vapor provides 3X the warming of CO2 alone. Since that has been disproved by observations, CAGW is disproved.

  14. You can see why the useful idiots like AOC fall for this stuff. They aren’t intelligent enough to see through the lies and propaganda.
    Want to lose your breakfast? Google search “extreme weather since 1900”. Apparently the climate cult is now claiming that floods, droughts, and storms literally did not occur until the later half of the 20th century.

  15. That rainfall record chart in Washington DC looks wonderfully regular and uneventful. Washington DC was built on swampy ground and the residents should expect to get rain and have to drain it off and not complain about ‘Global Warming’, ‘Climate Change’ or the Rain Gods. Rain Gods is the more likely cause, by the way, by a long shot.

  16. I think those of you who are claiming that AOC is a brainless twit who has bought into the CAGW hysteria are wrong. I don’t think she buys it for a second. She doesn’t care if it is factual or not, so refuting her with facts is useless. She is smart enough to know that the great majority of people, particularly progressives, are sheeple who are easily taken in by the CAGW scam. AOC is simply using CAGW as tool for the societal change (socialism) that she wants.

    • And that’s news? What did you think her GND was all about – making cookies, perhaps?

      If she’s as smart as you think she is, she’d avoid making some of her ridiculous public statements, when all she gets in return is being hammered for saying something ridiculous – and then she tries to blow it off by saying it was a joke. Joke, my fat Aunt Harriet.

      She’s been engaging the camera/media for months now and still ignores the fact that she’s making an idiot of herself on a recurring basis. If she’s so very smart, where is the subtlety needed to fool the public into accepting what she says without question? Hint: she hasn’t got a clue.

  17. I wouldn’t be surprised one day if we found out that city officials in various cities were turning off pumps here and there during rain in order to cause a little flooding so climate change can be pushed.

  18. Unfortunately well written and researched articles like this will never get wide distribution. The MSM will ignore it because it does not fit the narrative. The people who hang on AOC’s every word probably believe that if she said it on the internet it has to be true. She wouldn’t lie! Most tend to forget that she is just 5 months removed from being a bartender. She appears to have no specific expertise at anything other than tweeting about herself. Her knowledge of the history of anything is non existent. Her opinions should probably carry less weight than any other 29 year old who has done something other than bartend in their life.

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