Were the Sumas Floods Caused by Global Warming? The Evidence Says No.

From the Cliff Mass Weather Blog

Last weekend there were highly damaging floods over Northwest Washington, with the town of Sumas and its vicinity being inundated by floodwaters.  Several landslides occurred, including some that closed  I5 near Bellingham.

Town of Sumas, 2021, WSDOT Photo

Within hours of this heavy rainfall event, politicians and the media were suggesting that this event was somehow unique and the result of global warming.

For example, Governor Inslee called the flooding an example of “a permanent state of attack by the forces of climate change.”   The New York Times claimed that flooding in Northwest Washington was caused by climate change (see below)

Similar claims were found in the Washington Post and the Guardian.  And, of course, the Seattle Times had several stories, supported by a slew of “experts” (such as a Simon Fraser Professor) stating that climate change contributed to the flooding.  

The truth is very different than these claims.   The Sumas area is extraordinarily prone to flooding and has experienced flooding many times before.   And as I will demonstrate below, there is no evidence whatsoever that global warming caused the heavy rainfall associated with this event.

A Flood-Prone Region

The town of Sumas is within the historical flood plain of the Fraser River, with an additional flooding threat from local rivers such as the Nooksack (see maps below from a 2005 report by Dr. Jacek Scibek and Dr. Diana Allen of Simon Fraser University)

Importantly there was a large historic lake near Sumas and Abbotsford (Sumas Lake) that was drained for use in agriculture.   In short, a low-lying, historically wet area that has always been prone to flooding.
Previous Flooding
Flooding is not a new visitor to the Sumas area, which has experienced flooding many times during the past century.   The streets of Sumas was similarly flooded in February 2020 (see below)

And there were many previous major floods, including those in 1990 and 1951, to name only a few (see some more examples from the Whatcom County analysis of flooding events).  You build a town in a historical river delta in one of the wettest portions of North American, you can expect trouble.

To say that flooding in Sumas or the region is something new, unprecedented, or unique is simply not correct.  Those making such claims should have spent a little time examining historical floods of the region..
Global Warming And Heavy Precipitation
There has been a LOT of handwaving about the heavy precipitation during this event, claiming it was the result of global warming.  Or that it was greatly enhanced by global warming.
Yes, we had a major rainfall event, but to make a claim that global warming was the origin, it is necessary to demonstrate that there has been a progressive increase in heavy rain, something that would be a sign of a global warming origin.
Let’s look at the data.  Karin Bumbaco, Associate Washington State Climatologist, graciously provided me with plots of annual maximum 24-h rainfall at Bellingham, WA, and at the nearby Clearbrook official climatological observing site, with the latter having a very long record (see below).  
There is NO HINT of a trend towards more extreme precipitation at either of these sites.  According to Karin, the big peak in the mid-1930s was from an error in putting two days of rainfall into one day.

Such a lack of evidence of global warming is consistent with state-of-science regional climate modeling, which found that climate models (driven by very aggressive increases in greenhouse gas emissions (RCP8.5) did not produce significant increases in 24-h maximum precipitation in the area over the past half-century (results for Bellingham is shown below). By the END of the century (not shown here), aggressive global warming will increase the heaviest precipitation…but that is in the future.

But wait! There is even more evidence against a global warming contribution to this localized heavy precipitation event.
The origin of this event was a moderate atmospheric river, in which a narrow plume of water vapor was forced upward by out local mountains (see plot of water vapor at 4 PM last Sunday).

If global warming was important, then one would look for above-normal sea surface temperatures along the atmospheric river’s path, which would provide additional moisture to the air.  
Below are the sea surface temperature anomalies (differences from normal) for the period leading up and including the atmospheric river in question.  It was cooler than normal immediately off our coast and near normal for virtually the entire path of the atmospheric river. With La Nina conditions, the water temperatures near the equator were BELOW normal.  No sign of a global warming contribution.

Forest Fires Did Not Contribute to the Flooding
In desperation, some of the global warming advocates are suggesting, without a shred of evidence, that the forest fires from last summer were contributing to the flooding.  Specifically, they claim that debris from the fires and less absorptive capacity of the burned landscapes resulted in more water and material entering the rivers.   
We can see how much of the land immediately around the flooding areas was burnt using NASA MODIS imagery (see below for October 31st, when it was clear).   Recently burned landscapes have a reddish hue  (I have indicated an example of a recent fire, east of the Cascade crest, with a red arrow.

It is obvious that there are no major burnt areas around the flooding area or the associated river basins that received heavy precipitation during this event.  So wildfire burnt areas did not make a contribution to these fires.
Another claim, as found in the New York Times, was that there was low snowpack (due to global warming) before the flood, leading to a reduced capacity to soak up the rainwater.  But that was not true:  the snowpack was well above normal prior to the event (USDA Snotel map a few days before the flood is shown below).   The snowpack was well above normal…..not exactly the kind of situation associated with global warming.  I mean MUCH above normal.

It is both concerning and problematic that some local politicians, local and national media, and even some scientists are willing to stretch the truth about the origins of this serious flooding event, suggesting a major contribution from global warming (frequently called “climate change”.  
Society can not effectively deal with environmental threats when it is provided with hyped or false information.  And providing such false information, even in the hope of motivating people to “do the right thing”,  has substantial ethical problems.

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November 22, 2021 6:11 am

Indeed, the above average snowpack certainly contributed to the flooding. Rain-on-snow events results in a larger than expected flush of water into, and out of, historic channels.

This also happened where I live, in northwest Montana. We got the remnants of this “atmospheric river,” receiving more than 2 inches of rain measured at my location over the course of several days. Despite our low snowpack – refer to the snowpack map above – our local river jumped significantly and for a brief period, set records (64 years of record keeping) with flows not usually seen until the normal spring runoff. The Yaak had been running at a slightly elevated 5-600 cfs, but spiked to almost 5000 cfs. No flooding occurred and, our snowpack is still in poor shape.

Clifford Mass
Reply to  LKMiller
November 22, 2021 6:57 am

LK Miller. This is not correct. There is a substantial literature that shows that snow melt is relatively unimportant for such events (check out: https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2019WR024950)

Furthermore, there was not much low-elevation snowpack before the event, which would have been the most likely to aid the flood….cliff mass

Reply to  Clifford Mass
November 22, 2021 10:28 am

Sorry Cliff, cannot agree. At least in our case, there is no way we would have had a 10-fold rise in stream flow without a significant rain-on-snow event. We have gotten rains like this in past years, without such a dramatic and sudden rise in stream flow. This one smashed date records by 2-3000 cfs, going back 64 years.

john harmsworth
Reply to  LKMiller
November 22, 2021 11:06 am

The article does present alternative reasons for the large run off, such as deforestation caused by recent fires. Rainfall would seem to increase snowmelt at first thought, but snowmelt is dependent on the heat input. Rain falling at barely above freezing temperatures doesn’t really provide a lot of heat to the snowpack.

Reply to  john harmsworth
November 22, 2021 11:17 am

At least here in the Inland West however, the freezing level was quite high. I live at 3000 ft elevation, and our temperatures during this rain event ROSE to the mid 50’s. Our highest elevations here are 6000+ feet, and I would expect that the freezing level was nearly that high. This means that in addition to the rain-on-snow event, warm temperatures also brought down what little snowpack we had at the time, which wasn’t much.

Reply to  Clifford Mass
November 22, 2021 10:43 am

Interesting reference, but the stuff on rain on snow is general. The “very” West Coast in November and December can get what was called the “Pineapple Express”, which did not deliver pineapples.
In delivering a lot of precip, they should be called a “Maui Monsoon”.
Typically, these can dump a couple of feet of snow at the ski-resort elevation with the storm warming up as it completes. With rain to the tops of the mountains close to Vancouver the rain on snow does a lot of melting.
In beginning to ski the areas close to Vancouver as well as Mount Baker in 1960 I’ve experienced the frustration of early season variability for decades.
Rain of fresh snow can cause snow avalanches at the higher elevations with rain and snow melt at the lower levels forcing debris torrents.
Right down to the valley floors where the roads are.
As a geology student, I had Summer jobs up the Bridge River relocating the road. Just north and inland from Vancouver the region is almost semi-arid and on the steeper slopes there are rubble shoots that could only be active with rare downpours. In the order of many hundreds of years.
The B.C. government would have been practical in spending funds on the Sumas dikes, rather on CO2 hysteria.

ed fox
Reply to  LKMiller
November 22, 2021 11:55 am

It rained almost all of October and November leading up to the November floods. The ground was likely saturated and could not absorb the extra water. The mudslides are a pretty good indication.

Reply to  ed fox
November 23, 2021 8:00 am

As a bridge engineer that lived through our 2013 floods in southern Alberta (as well as 1995), I will second that. Extreme flooding requires several weeks of small precipitation, followed by a larger storm. Without both of those present, the flooding will not be extreme.

Tom Halla
November 22, 2021 6:24 am

Looking at the historic rainfall records, it is consistent with no trend either up or down, and the variability is substantial. So, if one wanted to game the record, choosing a start date would allow one to claim almost any trend one wanted.

November 22, 2021 6:34 am

And also Kyle Rittenhouse’s acquittal is a result of global warming.

Joseph Campbell
Reply to  Steve Clough
November 22, 2021 8:30 am

Belly Laugh! Thanks…

bill Johnston
November 22, 2021 6:40 am

“Providing false information…….has substantial ethical problems”. Seems to be a lot of that going around lately.

George Lawson
Reply to  bill Johnston
November 22, 2021 8:55 am

It’s a pity we cannot prosecute these scientists, and others masquerading as weather experts who lie against historical evidence of factual weather patterns for intentionally misleading the gullible masses, in order to secure their salaries,

Reply to  George Lawson
November 22, 2021 9:48 am

Yes these practices just scream RICO investigation.

john harmsworth
Reply to  Mr.
November 22, 2021 11:09 am

The difference between a criminal enterprise and a political one is the units of loss. millions for criminals versus billions for politicians plus a pension afterwards.

November 22, 2021 6:41 am

Thanks for the facts and follow up in response to the climate shaman pronouncements from the high priests.

November 22, 2021 6:41 am

Weather happens….500 year storms happen. Area also had big heat wave this year?

Ron Long
November 22, 2021 6:45 am

Good report from the Cliff Mass Blog. I note that the Snotel snow pack along the Washington and Oregon Cascades is 150% of normal, yet Oregon continues its “Extreme Drought” classification for Salem south to the Kalifornia border. I was in the Fairbanks Flood of 1967, and here’s the actual facts: Fairbanks was located where a boat full of “ladies” and Whiskey got stuck on a sand bar on its way upriver to a gold mining camp, so they waded ashore and established Fairbanks (If You Build It They Will Come). In 1967 summer there were two factors destined to conflict: 1. a new bridge over the Chena River in downtown Fairbanks, built extra strong to withstand annual ice break-up, and 2. more rainfall than usual. As the Chena River swelled up to a flood stage, debris came down the river. I was there on my first summer job as a Geologist Assistant and went to the bridge with Alex Jones, a famous Canadian Geologist. He observed a crane in the middle of the bridge trying to lift debris out that was pilling up against the bridge, and along comes a house in the river, jamming up against the bridge. Alex went to the onsite flood manager and advised him to blow up the bridge, which recommendation was rejected. Eventually the debris formed a dam, and the flood waters spread out through the town. Later that night I was forcibly evacuated from the second floor of the Nordale Hotel, with the water halfway up the first floor. The whole flood incident went from normal flood to disaster due to the new bridge.

john harmsworth
Reply to  Ron Long
November 22, 2021 11:11 am

I hope you thought to save some whisky and “ladies”.

November 22, 2021 6:45 am

I think this was a considerably wider event than ‘the town of Sumas’

Canada floods leave thousands of farm animals dead and more trapped | Flooding | The Guardian

B.C. flooding: Evacuations, mudslides caused by heavy rain | CTV News

and clearly these extreme, widespread and damaging floods and landslides and the extreme rain which caused them WERE caused by climate change.

and it isn’t as if this was the only 1 in 1,000 year rain event in the last 6 months

Meteorological bodies have referred to the rainstorm in China – which saw a year’s worth of rainfall in three days – as a one-in-1,000-year weather event. The rainfall broke hourly and daily records of the 70 years of collected data.

The heavy rainfall in the south of North Rhine-Westphalia and north of Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany produced accumulations which averaged 100 to 150 mm (3.9 to 5.9 in) in 24 hours, equivalent to more than a month’s worth of rain. In Reifferscheid, 207 mm (8.1 in) fell within a nine-hour period while Cologne observed 154 mm (6.1 in) in 24 hours. Some of the affected regions may not have seen rainfall of this magnitude in the last 1,000 years.

Bill Rocks
Reply to  griff
November 22, 2021 7:03 am

It is a big world. There are always cherries to pick.

Ron Long
Reply to  Bill Rocks
November 22, 2021 9:13 am

That’s right, Bill, it’s the Goldilocks Syndrome: Somewhere there is drought, somewhere there is a flood, and somewhere it is just right.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Ron Long
November 22, 2021 12:14 pm

In this case, the same atmospheric river being discussed also hit Vancouver BC and a long way up the coast and inland (see map) Sumas and Bellingham Washington are only a half our drive from Vancouver! And the province and state are on either side of the Fraser River Valley.

I lived in Vancouver for a few years (prairie boy) and the Biblical 40 days and 40 nights of rain was surpassed by this region on many occasions. I went to a few barbecues on the beach with a raincoat and a dozen beers! Nothing gets cancelled because of rain there.

Working in Labrador, we used to call rain Labrador sunshine. We took the rare sunny days off to do laundry, write letters and bring the geological map up to date.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
November 22, 2021 5:27 pm

Liquid Sunshine….
Correct. I remember the ‘pleasure’ of enduring several monsoon seasons during the 1 1/2 years I spent in Viet Nam. Just because it rains a lot & for a long time & rivers flood the world does not come to a standstill & everyone heads for cover, uh uh, life goes on & the work whatever it is gets done rain or no. Everything gets wet & never really dries out & the mud is thick & knee deep. Not much fun but ya bite the bullet & get thru it. A person can learn a lot from the natives just by watching them as this is a way life they were born into. I always admired their resilience to cope with whatever Ma Nature thru at them & never seem to complain.
Then when the rains stop & sun comes out, it gets hot, Lord, it gets hot.

Reply to  Bill Rocks
November 22, 2021 11:46 am

griff believes that if there is a single 1000 year event, anywhere in the world, that’s proof that CO2 is going to kill us.
Like the rest of the climate alarmists, griff has no use for statistics unless it’s misuse can be used to promote the narrative.

Reply to  griff
November 22, 2021 7:05 am


Can you please define “1 in 1000 year rainfall event?”

Second, since you say they WERE caused by climate change, post the data. It should be quite easy to see.

R Taylor
Reply to  griff
November 22, 2021 7:23 am

Care to comment on “Society can not effectively deal with environmental threats when it is provided with hyped or false information. And providing such false information, even in the hope of motivating people to “do the right thing”, has substantial ethical problems”, or do you feel fulfilled simply channeling your inner Squealer?

Reply to  griff
November 22, 2021 7:42 am


Give it a rest. On the other post from last week, I provided you with an abundance of scientific evidence that demonstrates there are no trends in floods and the factors involved are enormously complex. But you insist on ignoring the complexities and obsess on one element that might have some impact.

“daily records of the 70 years of collected data “

Big deal. You do realize that China’s history goes back a few thousand years. Begin focusing on BC, Before Cher. Or doesn’t your ancient history antedate Sonny and Cher.

Zheng 2018 Northern China

”Extreme flood events occurred in 1742, 1751, 1774, 1776, 1794, 1797, 1798, 1799, 1800, 1822, 1823, 1830, 1858, 1867, 1872, 1882, 1883, 1886, 1889, 1890, 1910, 1914, 1937, 1956, 1958, 1961, 1963 and 1964.”

Li 2020

”As revealed, the Yellow River flooding can be divided into two distinct stages: an early stage of low-frequency floods from the 220s BCE to the 890s CE; and a late stage of high-frequency floods during the 900s–1940s CE. A substantial increase in flooding frequency around the 10th century fell within the transition period into the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA), during which the Yellow River basin featured warm and wet climate conditions. Coincidentally, human management of the Yellow River intensified as a response to more severe and frequent floods. The intense river management persisted thereafter and resulted in the super-elevation of the riverbed, which made the river more prone to flooding. “

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  cerescokid
November 22, 2021 8:46 am

“The intense river management persisted thereafter and resulted in the super-elevation of the riverbed, which made the river more prone to flooding.”

I’ve always said this – one of the reasons for supposedly “unprecedented” flood levels is “flood control projects,” since these contain the water and STOP it from SPREADING into, you know FLOOD PLAINS. The result will always be higher flood levels “downstream” from areas where “flood control projects” have been done.

AKA, nothing to do with the “weather” getting worse.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  AGW is Not Science
November 22, 2021 11:25 am

Yes. Not far from Sumas, south, is the Skagit Valley. It’s one vast flood plain, with the Skagit river winding through it. They’re built dikes and levees all along the river in the farming area, and in some of the residential zones. Which means exactly what you say, when it does flood, it’s worse because the water has gotten higher than the levees.

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
November 22, 2021 12:38 pm

My father, who lived in the area for 55 years, photographically documented Skagit River flooding for at least 50 years. The river was higher back then at least twice ( ’75 and ~’90) than it was during the flood a week ago. There are some complete morons, like griffter, who claim a recent 1 in 500 year flood owing to the “climate crisis” in areas that have had 3 such floods in the last 50 years.

Reply to  cerescokid
November 22, 2021 10:00 am

We all note that Griff’s reference source links are invariably contemporary news / opinion media, rather than historical journals of record, or specialist studies, such as many here cite.

Accordingly, readers here have absolutely nothing to learn from Griff’s drive-by dollops of bullshit.

john harmsworth
Reply to  Mr.
November 22, 2021 11:38 am

Every copy writer in the Guardian offices has special, “global warming” glasses they put on before watching the news reports from around the world. Every sparrow that falls gets a hailstone stapled to their butt.

john harmsworth
Reply to  cerescokid
November 22, 2021 11:36 am

Her never comes back to own up to his B.S. His brand of misinformation relies on hit and run tactics. It goes well with his utter lack of personal integrity or courage.

Reply to  cerescokid
November 22, 2021 11:48 am

griff’s technique is to repeat the same lie over and over again, and when the rest get tired of collecting and displaying the data to refute his lies, he claims victory because nobody is posting data to disprove him.

Reply to  griff
November 22, 2021 8:06 am

“We show that warm climate regions exhibit decreasing precipitation trends, while arid and polar climate regions show increasing trends. At the country scale, precipitation seems to have increased in 96 countries, and decreased in 104. We also explore precipitation changes over 237 global major basins. Our results show opposing trends at different scales, highlighting the importance of spatial scale in trend analysis. Furthermore, while the increasing global temperature trend is apparent in observations, the same cannot be said for the global precipitation trend according to the high-resolution dataset, PERSIANN-CDR, used in this study.”


John Tillman
Reply to  griff
November 22, 2021 8:15 am

Massive floods in the Pacific NW are common. Just in my 70 years, I’ve witnessed some bad ones. The most devastating occurred in 1948, shortly before my birth, which wiped out Vanport, OR. It unhoused 17,500 people and killed 15. The city wasn’t rebuilt. It’s now Delta Park, Portland (or Multnomah County).

Columbia River dams have made such disastrous floods much more rare, but they still happen, as in 1995, typically accompanied by Chinooks (warm SW winds) associated with rain from a Pineapple Express, the warmth of which melts snow as well.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  John Tillman
November 22, 2021 10:16 am

Exactly, Tom. I remember my father volunteering for sand bag duty during the 1948 flood. One look at the meandering Sumas river will tell you the nature of the surrounding area. It’s table flat and and surrounded by watersheds in all directions. Then of course, there is our well known November rainy period in the Pacific North West. The present conditions are simple one of the variables of this climate.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  griff
November 22, 2021 9:05 am

Hey griff,

Slightly off topic but did you notice the piece in today’s (22nd Nov) Guardian?

“More than 5000 new homes in flood risk areas of England have been granted planning permission so far this year”

Happy reading.

Reply to  Dave Andrews
November 22, 2021 10:32 am

The Guardian is probably referring to an area that coulda, woulda, shoulda flood in 2350

I’m not kidding with this next bit

I came across a planning application in Wales for some warehousing. The approval stipulated the new buildings had to be built 50 cm (20″) above the current level of the ground to cope with enhanced flooding due to climate change (presumably in 2350)

In the planning documents was a report by a flooding expert which essentially said no risk


Mike Edwards
Reply to  griff
November 22, 2021 9:34 am

these extreme, widespread and damaging floods and landslides and the extreme rain which caused them WERE caused by climate change”


Would you provide some facts to back up that claim?
Such claims are two a penny, few of them have any basis.

Climate believer
Reply to  griff
November 22, 2021 9:56 am

Here are some more climate cherries….

Spain recorded its lowest temperature in January 2021 with the mercury dropping to -35.8°C.

January 2021 was the coldest the UK has seen in 10 years.

Norway as a whole experienced its coldest January since 2010, it was much colder than average over a large swathe of Siberia too.

….climate change™!!!

Oh and from the Guardian for this year…

“The UK faces a greater than normal risk of cold winter weather this year, according to meteorologists, which threatens to ignite greater demand for gas and keep gas market prices sky-high until 2023.”

Reply to  griff
November 22, 2021 11:02 am

Rain is caused by low pressure systems which is known as weather.

Climate is defined as 30 years of weather in a given area.

Therefore, climate change cannot cause weather, because there is no cause and effect.

Your thinking is entirely backwards and illogical as I’ve easily shown. It has no basis in fact.

To bed B
Reply to  griff
November 22, 2021 11:09 am

“which caused them WERE caused by climate change.”

Even that is unprecedented. Wake me up when it’s in bold.

john harmsworth
Reply to  griff
November 22, 2021 11:33 am

All part of the Sumas prairie, much of which was once a large lake. Diked and pumped clear for agriculture. Why don’t they ever show the historical record of events and instead say :unprecedented” when it isn’t. Griff?

Reply to  griff
November 22, 2021 11:47 am

It’s a big world, there will always be thousands of 1 in 1000 year events, every year.
Why this is so has been explained to you many times, but as usual you are incapable of processing anything that doesn’t coincide with what you have been told to believe.

Reply to  griff
November 22, 2021 10:13 pm


You give reasons for thinking the events were rare. What you have not shown is either how rare or what caused them. If you reply that we cannot think of anything else than global warming you are committing the logical fallacy, known and classified since the Scholastics, of the Argument from Ignorance.

Whether we can think of any other plausible cause or not has no bearing on what the cause was.

The null hypothesis is that weather events are long tailed distributions. In both directions. There will be extreme events, its perfectly normal.

Now, you claim that the events in question have a normal incidence of in 1,000 years. Therefore, the argument is, for there to be several in different parts of the world of this magnitude is evidence that something has changed and that there must be some underlying cause which produced these particular ones.

What is the evidence for the one in 1,000 years statistic? There have only been reliable weather gauges and rainfall measurements quite recently. We have only anecdotal reports on flooding extents prior to about 1850. We cannot say with any confidence how common these events have been historically, and the more extreme the claims the less evidence there is for them.

And what is the evidence that several occurring in different parts of the world in the same year is at all unusual?

If for instance you were to claim that a given rainfall and flooding event is once every 10,000 years, you’d need to produce evidence from rainfall gauges and observations going back considerably further. To justify the claim of one in 1,000 in turn requires reliable observations covering several millennia. Its just panic and arm waving.

The climate in North Rhine-Westphalia – and in the Pacific Northwest, and in the UK for that matter, is very variable. The correct conclusion from the recent events is not that global warming must be causing very rare events, because we can’t think of any other explanation.

The correct conclusion is that these events are not as rare as we have recently been assuming, and that our local planning measures have been found inadequate to the local conditions.

It is very similar to living in an earthquake prone zone. We do not cast around for remote causes of a huge earthquake with a 1 in 1,000 year expected frequency – though in the case of earthquakes we do at least have a geological record to go on when estimating frequency.

Instead we take out insurance to cover events which we know to be rare and unpredictable but inevitable and disastrous when they happen. We do this in the form of building codes. And we just accept that in a bad period we may have a couple of these events in a decade, and then nothing for a very long time. But we still insure. That’s what insurance is for, to cover you against things you do not expect to happen, but may.

What the local authorities in these flooded areas need to do is stop worrying hysterically about the planet, and get real about the nature of the place they are living in, and take sensible precautions for their people.

The model for this is Holland. Faced with the great floods of 1953 they did not spend decades hysterically wringing their hands and inventing weird explanations based on the only things they could think of for causes, and attributing them to divine anger or maybe large El Ninos or global warming or cooling..

Instead, they got to work and built the Delta Works, one of the greatest civil engineering products the world has ever seen.

Learn from it.

Tim Olheiser
Reply to  griff
November 26, 2021 5:11 am

Before the two X flares that came from the sun earlier this month the cosmic rays coming from the sun was at least 8.6 percent. After the flares the cosmic rays dropped to 3.1, within a week it was again up to 8.1 and during the atmospheric river event the suns cosmic rays increased to 8.6 . Increased cloud nucleation from the cosmic rays increased precipitation with both pre snowpack in the mountains and the rain event itself. It is a grand solar minimum phenomena . Our jet stream is effected by the 30 percent magnetic field from the magnetic polar excursion/ reversal. The magnetic field has been moving towards Siberia at a rate of 7 km per month for the past 18 months.

November 22, 2021 7:04 am

Within hours of this heavy rainfall event, politicians and the media were suggesting that this event was somehow unique and the result of global warming.

Well, they still are.

Steve Case
November 22, 2021 7:13 am

If you Google “The flood of 1900″,”The flood of 1901″,”The flood of 1902″,”The flood of 1903” and so on, you will find that there have been floods somewhere every year. And these days we can expect every flood to be blamed on “Climate Change.”

Pamela Matlack-Klein
November 22, 2021 7:14 am

I have two friends living on Vancouver Island and they are not happy. The roads and trains are washed out and there is dwindling food and petrol supplies. No word yet as to how long they will be stuck. This is supposed to be a pleasant area in which to live but between the propensity for flooding and the difficulty of getting off the island in the best of times, I would move!

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
November 22, 2021 8:52 am

Kind of like California, which is a State at war with Mother Nature. Earthquakes, Wildfires, Droughts, Floods, Mudslides…why does anyone want to live there?! Not to mention the politics!

Reply to  AGW is Not Science
November 22, 2021 10:35 am

I blame the Beach Boys

Reply to  Redge
November 22, 2021 11:10 am

That actually has basis when researched. But I blame Ed Sullivan.

Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
November 22, 2021 10:08 am

Where are these trains on Vancouver Island?

The Malahat highway into/ out of Victoria was closed for a couple of days, but now back to normal.

(Normal being 3 out of 4 lanes closed somewhere for roadworks

K. McNeill
Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
November 22, 2021 11:53 am

I live on Vancouver Island, there is only one train and it runs from Duke Point to Nanaimo, about 5 km. It’s a freight train hauling propane tanker cars, it still runs. The flooding was restricted to areas that always flood on a high tide and heavy rain. The highways which were washed out were restricted to the Malahat, the only road from Mill Bay to Victoria and thus the central and north island were isolated from Victoria, always a good thing, and Chemainus Road at Chemainus River also a place that always floods. The shortage of fuel in Victoria is caused by all the fuel terminals being north of the Malahat. In fact at or north of Nanaimo, I can say without fear of correction that as of today there is no shortage of fuel or food on the central and North Island. The fuel barge was here yesterday and will be here tomorrow as per schedule

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  K. McNeill
November 22, 2021 1:24 pm

Good to know. I have never visited them, just get the news second hand from a mutual friend who does visit. I have been worried about their wellbeing but sounds like things are getting back to normal. How about on the mainland, Vancouver? I was told that some towns have been totally washed away. This sounds sketchy to me but it is a very flood-prone area….

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
November 22, 2021 8:18 pm


Vancouver is fine, unfortunately.

Vancouver island is amazing place to visit, lots to see, but it is a weird mix of conservative retirees and tree hugger hippies, ridings swing from conservative to far left with just a percentage point change.
Victoria is interesting but homeless will reach over the fence and take food off your plate when you eat on a restaurant patio on Robson.

The weather encourages them to go there, we once had a premier Klein who would buy them bus tickets to get them out of ALberta
Good old Ralph, great guy
No patience for hobos and beggars

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
November 23, 2021 1:21 am

Thanks for the information. Eventually I will visit when various governments decide that Covid is no longer an existential threat to life….

Reply to  K. McNeill
November 22, 2021 2:26 pm

the central and north island were isolated from Victoria, always a good thing

In my humble opinion, one of the few remaining areas of sanctuary from the madness that seems to be permeating the developed world.

Doug Danhoff
November 22, 2021 7:23 am

It is cases like this when I realize that the name “scientist” means next to nothing, like the title “expert “. A junior high school biology teacher and a university research chemist can both legitimately claim the title of scientist.

Reply to  Doug Danhoff
November 22, 2021 11:13 am

A scientist is one who follows the scientific method. Nothing more, nothing less.

November 22, 2021 7:24 am

“It is both concerning and problematic that some local politicians, local and national media, and even some scientists are willing to stretch the truth about the origins of this serious flooding event, suggesting a major contribution from global warming (frequently called “climate change”. 

The majority of the incorrect claims are the result of just plain IGNORANCE coupled with LAZINESS and exacerbated by the bandwagon effect — singing the most popular tune along with the gang.

Reporters (who used to be journalists but no longer practice the art of journalism) have a “call list” — used to be a rolodex — organized by topic of people to call for quotes for stories. (using a factious example) “Hey, Dr. Zorba, you hear about the flooding in Vancouver? Think that could have been caused by climate change?” Dr. Zorba, anxious to be quoted as an expert in the newspapers, offers some uninformed pablum about “more frequent and extreme precipitation predicted by models” or “areas burnt by fires in the Northwest will have more run-off”. Dr. Zorba, of course, can barely point to Vancouver on the map….but this does not stop him from giving an “expert” opinion.

Local politicians would rather have the problems blamed on Climate Change than admit that they have failed to take the measures to prevent flooding called for by the last ten commissions on flooding in their township.

We see this in almost every field of endeavor now that journalists have been freed from the constraints of real journalistic practice. Every shooting is blamed on lack of proper gun laws, criminals are glorified if they are hurt by police when being apprehended, on and on.

John Tillman
Reply to  Kip Hansen
November 22, 2021 8:16 am

Not just ignoranc aand laziness, but ideological agenda.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  John Tillman
November 22, 2021 8:27 am

Definitely the case with Governor Inslee. According to him, EVERYTHING is caused by climate change. No amount of data or analysis to the contrary for any single event will change his tune.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
November 22, 2021 10:12 am

Nailed it Kip.

Bar Code
November 22, 2021 7:41 am

It screwed up my fishing hole on the North Fork, just shy of the Beer Shrine. I was having my best salmon season in six years, and even caught a nice sea-run Brown Trout two weeks ago.

Flooding patterns changed on the Nooksack when they banned dredging the river for gravel a couple of decades back. This complicates the interpretation of water levels and velocity at specific sites.

The scouring caused by the flooding similarly complicates interpretation. Look at the low gage height today vs. the discharge:

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Bar Code
November 22, 2021 8:10 pm

My wildlife worry is the monster sturgeon in the Fraser.
If any swam out of the river proper and get trapped in drying fields they’ll die eventually although they are amazingly tough creatures.
Anyone who likes fishing should tie into one of these.
All catch and release, I think biggest recently was 900lbs

Jeff Alberts
November 22, 2021 8:19 am

By the END of the century (not shown here), aggressive global warming will increase the heaviest precipitation…but that is in the future.”

Dr Mass. If we haven’t seen even “a hint” of increased rainfall so far, why would we expect A) more “aggressive” global warming and B) heavier precipitation “in the future”? There doesn’t seem to be any data to bear that out.

I do appreciate you debunking all these myths that pop up, but the future meme seems to also be a myth. If not, shouldn’t we have seen some evidence by now?

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
November 22, 2021 10:16 am

I know a guy who can sell you a reincarnation procedure right now at a keen price.

That’s the only way to verify the agw model predictions.

john harmsworth
Reply to  Mr.
November 22, 2021 11:46 am

Is that the old Egyptian one where they pull your brains out through your nose? I think the mass media machine is on top off that already.

Reply to  john harmsworth
November 22, 2021 2:32 pm

It’s a close relation to another old Egyptian procedure that enables you to pull a global warming target number of 1.5C out of your arse.

The mass media machine is also on top of this one already.

Ireneusz Palmowski
November 22, 2021 8:24 am

The animation below shows an extremely persistent circulation in the Northeast Pacific. A persistent patch of cold has become entrenched during the formation of the North Polar Vortex as a result of ozone accumulation over the Bering Sea and tropopause deflection in the region. The jet stream bypasses the ozone patch from the south and heads northward bypassing Alaska. In Alaska, this has resulted in high pressure and severefrost.comment imagecomment imagecomment image

Ireneusz Palmowski
Reply to  Ireneusz Palmowski
November 22, 2021 9:45 am

This is the real “butterfly effect.”comment image

Ireneusz Palmowski
Reply to  Ireneusz Palmowski
November 22, 2021 9:53 am

Sorry.comment image

Peta of Newark
November 22, 2021 9:18 am

Sorry peeps, I know sugar tastes nice and beer is even better but, this is the reason:

Quote:”drained for use in agriculture”

That Sweet Tooth is gonna cost the Earth

Reply to  Peta of Newark
November 22, 2021 10:18 am

They grow a lot of carrots and leeks there Peta.

November 22, 2021 9:41 am

From the Vancouver Sun: “B.C. has been warned for years of potential for key Sumas dike to fail
In fact, a consultant’s report found that most of the sample of dikes surveyed in the Lower Mainland were vulnerable to failure.”

Rud Istvan
November 22, 2021 9:47 am

The propensity to confound weather with climate is another indicator that the warmunists really haven’t got a case.
As in the past, floods in the floodplain when hit by an atmospheric river.
No meaningful past change in regional rainfall.
Not low snowpack related.

But Dr. Mass is unfortunately playing whack-a-mole.

MM from Canada
November 22, 2021 9:56 am

Abbotsford BC is north of the border in the same area.The city borders the former Sumas Lake area, which in 1925 was drained and the land reclaimed. The area has been used for farm and range land ever since.The TransCanada Highway runs right through it.Last week, during the storm, the dikes were overtopped with water, and the area is flooded right now, including parts of Abbotsford.

The whole mess is being blamed on “climate change.” But the provincial government was told 20 years ago that the dikes would not be sufficient protection in case of a catastrophic storm. And the government did nothing. We’ve been paying a “carbon tax” for 13 years to “save the planet” in a hundred years or so, but the government couldn’t be bothered to plan ahead for an eventuality that could take place right in our own backyard. I guess you don’t get very many votes for raising the height of flood-control dikes.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  MM from Canada
November 22, 2021 11:34 am

The flood control devices are one of the primary causes of these sorts of catastrophes. They make the water flow higher, so when it does flood, it’s worse than it would have been otherwise.

Reply to  MM from Canada
November 22, 2021 4:53 pm

A dike works both ways. They are usually built to keep the water out, but they will also keep the water in, like a big swimming pool.

Most people are not insurable against floods in that area. Some companies will but at a very heavy premium. With the promotion of gloom and doom, the value of houses will certainly go down for the next few years. Which is not a bad thing for that area. Houses are way over-priced. A million dollar for a BC house is insane. But then people will forget, as usual, and the value will go up again.

Seems there will be a lot of money poured into raising the highway I suppose.

November 22, 2021 10:15 am

Canada’s Federal climate change assessment report does not observe any change to autumn precipitation in south-west BC where the floods are occurring. This is the flagship “science” for Canada. The media have not understood this in their reporting. https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/sites/www.nrcan.gc.ca/files/energy/Climate-change/pdf/CCCR-Chapter4-TemperatureAndPrecipitationAcrossCanada.pdf

The Fraser Basin council reports similar flood events from 1948 and 1894

The province of British Columbia this year has spent 1.3 billion Canadian dollars on CO2 related climate finance as part of the CleanBC 2030 initiative, and 0.025 billion on emergency preparedness. That is 50x more on cutting CO2 than preparing for inevitable floods. Popular opinion can be a powerful thing even if it completely opposes common sense. There are more built assets in the known floodplain than ever before.

Reply to  JCM
November 22, 2021 4:55 pm

You have to look at where the money is going… Almost all in projects that have no impact whatsoever except making some people very rich.

November 22, 2021 10:54 am

Those making such claims should have spent a little time examining historical floods of the region..

The function of the yellow press is to incite stampedes of public emotion to favor a pre- conceived agenda.

I learned this in Journalism 101 over 50 years ago, so its nothing new. The only thing that is new are people born in the 21st century who don’t know what propaganda is because they were never taught anything about it.

Fake news is fake news. Always was and always will be.

To bed B
November 22, 2021 10:57 am

What! Global warming didn’t even contribute a smidgen to justify claims that climate change made it worse?

Because river valleys are, roughly, V shaped and greater height means faster flow, 5% more rain can mean as little as a few inches in greater flood heights. You would really need an extreme trend in rainfall, extremely large increase in global humidity, or extremely warm warm waters feeding the weather system to even claim climate change made things worse.

Len Werner
November 22, 2021 10:57 am

I appreciate the analysis offered by Dr. Mass as it leads to the indication of just how predictable this event was. The rainfall amount and intensity was markedly less than that of the atmospheric river event of 1964 that impacted the US coast from northern California to southern Washington, and seriously less than the California storms of 1862. This was a minor event compared to those two, and certainly falls well short of the ignorant claims of ‘unprecedented’. All it would have taken to establish precedence is the ability to read.

That Dr. Mass should limit his discussion of damage to his own country however is puzzling; it is probable that only 0.1% of the damage from this event occurred in Washington, most of it is in BC. Earth Science discussions should not be governed by political boundaries.

In addition, at least half of that damage by dollar value is due to water from the Nooksack River being allowed–by design–to overflow into the Sumas River and flow into Canada. I fully expect this to be enough of an ‘international incident’ to result in lawsuits, and will welcome the expert witness testimony from Dr. Mass when those trials occur.

In considering whether this event was extreme or not, reading up on the rainfall figures says that it was not. The rainfall total at Hope BC from this event was 9.9″ in 48 hours, in Mission BC I measured 8″. Some areas in the 1964 event measured 15″ in 12 hours. The 1862 event reports as much as 10 feet in 43 days. If one draws a line through those three events, there is an exponential decrease in severity over time–just to point out the occasional ‘ludicrosity’ of trying to make a point by drawing lines through points.

The failure to remove accumulating riverbed deposits is going to have to surface sooner or later in discussions of liability for future damage. This is also not ‘unprecedented’–I remember in my first Engineering Geology course 55 years ago listening to the prof presenting the history of the lower Mississippi River, where the building of levees, followed by silting, followed by raising the levees, followed by silting……eventually resulted in the river bed being above the land through which it flowed.

Why would the extreme short-term water level in the Nooksack River from a moderately intense storm event today be a surprise? What could possibly make it seem ‘unprecedented’ or ‘unpredictable’–other than ignorance?

The flooding of Sumas Prairie from such an event–where I grew up by the way and am gearing up to help cousins recover their farms once the floodwater recedes–was a matter of ‘when, not if’–and the ‘when’ just arrived.

ed fox
November 22, 2021 11:17 am

All the money to prepare for floods had already been spent on studying climate and flying to fancy banquets in private jets.

We keep hearing the science is settled, but instead of preparing for climate change we are spending our money TALKING ABOUT trying to prevent climate change. Not prevent, but talking about preventing.

A fool’s errand. Ask the 4 billion poor in the world if they are content to remain poor. China, India and Africa are going to follow the ONLY path to prosperity that has actually worked. Burn coal for cheap energy. Use this energy to bring prosperity.

Even if the 4 billion rich people on the planet magically stopped using fossil fuels today, our place would simply be taken by the 4 billion poor people that have every moral right to use the same path we used to get rich.

ed fox
November 22, 2021 11:39 am

The real cause of the flooding in Canada was bureaucracy. The problem had been studied to death but nothing had been done to make correction. The reason is simple. The only time you can get fired in government is if you make a mistake. And if you sit on your hands you can never be found to have made a mistake.

So the civil servants quickly learn to do nothing and hate productive people that make everyone else look bad. The productive people get quickly weeded our because they are the only ones making mistakes. The folks that are left get nothing done, but they are no worse than the person sitting across the table so they can’t be fired.

And as a result, high priced consultants are called in to make studies of the problem but these studies never do anything except eat up the budget.

ed fox
November 22, 2021 12:11 pm

I recall reading somewhere that in some places the Fraser is now 60 feet above the floodplain because of silting. A disaster waiting to flood greater Vancouver. Either you must regularly dredge the river, build the levees higher, or sell your house and move to higher ground.

Elle W
November 22, 2021 12:21 pm

Ok, joining this discussion from the Canadian side. News media is conflating two different flooding pathways here. 1. Sumas Flooding. Yes, Cliff is right about how and why it happened.
BUT that brings us to #2. The flooding that destroyed the Coquihalla Highway in the mountains further east of the Sumas Prairie flood. This is steep rugged terrain, which was hit hard by forest fires last summer. No root systems and trees means those slopes are prone to slide. In addition, October saw heavy snowfall on those slopes and mountainsides. Then the Pineapple Express hit with very warm temperatures and lots of rain in a short period of time. It was a combination of all three things that proved fatal: the snow melted en masse, the denuded slopes could not soak up the rain-plus-snowmelt fast enough, the resultant slurries and mud took out more terrain downslope winding up clogging then overfilling streams, creeks and rivers and then, ultimately, destroying bridges. Water plus gravity is relentless and destructive.
Press coverage of these two separate flooding issues has been lazy, and assumes that the Sumas event and the mountain highway destruction are the same issues. No they are not.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Elle W
November 22, 2021 8:00 pm

Yes, but then people go full scientologist and talk about “unprecedented fire year” but it takes 30 seconds on the BC govt website to find this year was 2.5 times the average area burned, well above average but only 65% of the record.
And about .60% we’re human started so with more common sense and perhaps less arson (hello california sociopaths) it would have just been average?
It’s likely the designers of the Coq knew about these events that seem to happen every 50-60 years but decided that try and build to survive that would stop the whole project which was hugely expensive in the first place.

Curious George
November 22, 2021 12:21 pm

California Super Flood also caused by global warming?

In the 1840s and 1850s, California was exceptionally dry, so by the fall of 1861, California ranchers were hoping for rain. In late November they got what they were wishing for—and then some. It didn’t stop raining for 43 days, and by January 1862, the Central Valley was filled with an inland sea. It was the largest flood in the recorded history of California. Huge storms like these are now known as atmospheric rivers. Atmospheric rivers strike the U.S. West Coast several times a year on average, but can strike even more often in a particularly stormy year. Megastorm atmospheric rivers, like struck in 1861-1862, occur about every 150 to 200 years and probably pose a greater risk to the state than earthquakes.

Ireneusz Palmowski
November 22, 2021 12:26 pm

The circulation does not change, as I wrote there, is a persistent pattern caused by ozone accumulation in the north of Pacific.
http://tropic.ssec.wisc.edu/real-time/mtpw2/product.php?color_type=tpw_nrl_colors&prod=alaska&timespan=24hrs&anim=html5comment imagecomment image

Ireneusz Palmowski
Reply to  Ireneusz Palmowski
November 22, 2021 12:44 pm

Snow in the mountains will soon exceed 3 meters. Rainfall in flood-affected areas is increasing.

November 22, 2021 1:05 pm

Global river runoff is declining. However the rivers in the northern latitudes have a slight increasing trend while the tropical and southern rivers are declining. These trends will intensify as the precession cycle moves on:

Reply to  RickWill
November 22, 2021 4:58 pm

I live in the tropics and can attest that this year we didn’t have a dry season.

Robert of Texas
November 22, 2021 2:15 pm

Politicians are not necessarily “stretching the truth” when they blame climate change – they are just too stupid to understand the truth. They are repeating the things that people they think are smarter than they are have said. Same can be said of most climate “scientists”…they are too stupid to understand the truth.

The problem boils down to awarding these incompetent people with degrees and jobs that require an understanding of how science actually works. I blame the education system which has been hijacked by people intent on agendas, not on anything approaching the truth.

Pat from kerbob
November 22, 2021 7:47 pm


From the Communist Bullshitters Collective no less

Also, on another site someone reminded me we used to call these things the Pineapple Express

But I guess that wasn’t scary enough and so let’s go with “atmospheric river”

That’s the ticket
Sciency and fearful

Larry Brasfield
November 22, 2021 7:52 pm

The article is well written and objective, except for one assertion: “[certain people] … are willing to stretch the truth about … .” Those people are never satisfied with merely stretching the truth; their claptrap is wholly unconstrained by anything resembling truth. They make it up as perceived need demands in service of their great cause.

Paul Vaughan
November 22, 2021 10:23 pm

28 (& 7) day spacing:

comment image

<a href=”https://climate.weather.gc.ca/climate_data/daily_data_e.html?StationID=51442&month=11&day=16&Year=2021&timeframe=4&Month=11&Day=16″>data</a>

November 23, 2021 1:33 am

A deceptive photo. Water knee-high near the creek, which is full of trees and hasn’t been dredged for years.

Alasdair Fairbairn
November 23, 2021 2:23 am

All these claims that climate change is the cause of weather incidents are false, being part of the UN and its acolytes such as the IPCC PR machine pushing the False CAGW message.
The UN is now a political organisation infiltrated over the years by covert leftwing/marxist activists and should be defunded.

Joseph Zorzin
November 23, 2021 3:03 am

“And providing such false information, even in the hope of motivating people to “do the right thing”, has substantial ethical problems.”

And if you disagree with them they imply that you’re an idiot. Some religious fundamentalists think the world started only 4-5 thousand years ago. The climatistas think it started only several decades ago.

Jeff Reppun
November 23, 2021 6:19 am

It is pretty stupid to suggest the flooding of a fertile floodplain valley is an abnormal event. And just like forset fires, man has much to do with the resulting disasters such as damming, levy building, water wells, intentional diversions, bridges, piling, etc, etc. that have nothing to do with climate.

Ireneusz Palmowski
November 23, 2021 6:32 am

The coming night will be frosty in eastern North America. The jet stream continues to wave hard over North America.comment image
Another front with rain and snow in the mountains will reach the west coast tomorrow night.comment image

November 23, 2021 4:22 pm

You have a lot of credentials here talking over their areas of expertise. Global warming by man requires a source of heat. Hot excited energy always transfers to cold.

Have you ever gone for a ride in a cold air balloon? It is safe to hang outside the basket because the balloon would never leave the ground. That heated air is lighter.

The professionals here that do not believe man is heating the atmosphere need to put on a bathing suit, bare feet and go onto a shingled roof.(have an ambulance on standby)

Anthony Watts and I first had dialogue when this website showed a weather station inside the urban heat island of a city. My team had imaged buildings in 7 provinces and 26 states specific to UHI being urban heat generators right after sunrise. AC is in fact refrigeration requiring a big electrical demand. The imaging and time-lapsed video you will see here is not an illustration. It is very accurate and when challenged by Hydrologists. We were within one tenth of a degree C imaging groundwater from a helicopter.


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