Someone mentioned a story about Fresno being the hottest place in the country between January and July, according to NOAA.
But read the NOAA web site closely. That’s not at all what the federal government is saying.
Fresno is in bright red with the word “warmest” under the January-to-July ranking. It just means this is the warmest January-to-July ranking for Fresno in the last 66 years.
There are much warmer cities in the United States. Click the up-and-down button on the 2013 ranking. You’ll see there were about 25 other cities that were warmer.
Even so, it’s a pretty interesting statistic for Fresno.
But there is one unanswered question I have about this climate ranking. Why does NOAA look at only 66 years of record?
Fresno’s records go back more than a century. I’ve seen National Weather Service statistics on warm months that included months from 1906.
There are plausible reasons — perhaps the monitoring station was moved to its present site 66 years ago. NOAA hints at that by saying these are long-term monitoring stations.
Plan your picnic Friday, you live in Fresno. It’s a good bet you won’t see rain at Woodward Park or anyplace else in the city.
Since weather record-keeping began in the late 1870s, Fresno has never seen rain on June 21.
But that’s not the most interesting part of this trivia. According to the records, June 21 is the only rainless day of the year in Fresno.
In other words, all the torrid, parched days of July and August have seen at least some kind of rain in the last 130 years or so.
“Rain is pretty unusual in the summer for the San Joaquin Valley,” said meteorologist Paul Iniguez of the weather service in Hanford. “But we’ve recorded at least a trace on every day of the season in Fresno, except June 21.”
Iniguez said next month — July — is particularly dry in the Valley. He said there have only been three days since the 1870s when Fresno got more than .10 of an inch of rain. The amounts of rain were .14 of an inch in 1925, .22 in 1992 and .33 in 1913.
“The Valley has a very Mediterranean climate,” he said. “Summers are typically very dry.”
By the way, Friday is the first full day of summer. The solstice happens at 10:04 p.m. Thursday.
Two Fresno State professors say climate change will make the San Joaquin River’s annual runoff show up earlier — as much as six weeks earlier in the next century.
And one other thing:There will be a “significant decrease in annual stream flow,” said geology professor C. John Suen, who co-authored a study on the upper San Joaquin. Suen’s co-author was associate hydrology professor Zhi Wang.
The study, published in Hydrology Research, is more confirmation of findings in previous climate change studies, and it is not a pretty picture.
As water engineers and researchers have been saying for years, California’s reservoirs are built built to capture a gradual runoff from melting snow. More than half the state’s summer water supply is frozen in the snowpack each year.
If the state see more rainfall and earlier snow runoff, there could be big problems protecting communities and farms from floods.
In the San Joaquin Valley, the shift could be damaging for the multibillion-dollar economic base of agriculture.
This is about the place where the discussion turns to building larger reservoirs — such as Temperance Flat on the San Joaquin — or changing the way water and land are used. I’ll leave those issues to commenters here.
But Suen and Wang give us more reason to have the conversation.
Meteorologist Steve Johnson, a private consultant in the Fresno area, posted a list of California records set on warm Wednesday this week.
It was topped by Fresno’s 85 degrees, which broke the 2007 record for the day by one degree. Burbank broke its record by eight degrees.
From reading the list, it looks like 2007 was pretty warm, too. But there are also some very old records that were broken. The Riverside record was more than a century old.
Here’s the list, which includes the place, the new record and the old record:
Fresno, 85° (84° set in 2007), South Lake Tahoe, 69° (64° set in 2007), Burbank, 93° (85° set in 1951), Sandberg, 77° (76° set in 2007), Woodland Hills, 94° (92° set in 2007), Ramona, 86° (84° set in 2007), Riverside, 95° (90° set in 1902), Thermal, 97° (96° set in 1997), Alpine, 84° (81° set in 1994), El Cajon, 86° (81° set in 2004), Elsinore, 92° (88° set in 1926), Escondido, 87° (86° set in 1951).
If warm weather continues, the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada will come rolling down a little sooner than usual. The snowpack is about 60% of average right now — better than last year when it was about 45% as spring began in late March.