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July 8, 2009
Imagining a crisis
Said Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) at yesterday's Environment and Public Works Committee hearing (move the slider over to the 137:52 mark at this EPW video), as he cited the Global Climate Change Impacts in the U.S./SW region report:
"...Human induced climate change appears to be well underway in the southwest. Recent warming in the Southwest has been among the most rapid in the nation. This is driving declines in spring snowpack and Colorado River flow.... According to climate scientists, if we fail to reduce global warming, vast area of the United States will likely face severe water shortages...."
Prompted by memories of my sister describing massive rain accumulation in the Carlsbad NM area a few years ago, I went a-digging.....
From the NOAA's Aug '06 Weather Highlights For NM:
"...August 2006 precipitation was well above normal statewide with temperatures generally below normal...."
From Sept '06:
"...September 2006 was wet during the first half of the month and dry during the second half. For the month as a whole, precipitation was generally around or above normal, with a few locations across northern New Mexico below normal. Temperatures were below normal statewide...."From Oct '06:
"...October 2006 experienced below normal temperatures, with the start of the month above normal, while the middle and end of the month were below normal. Precipitation was generally above normal statewide...."
Well, maybe the Senator is talking about really recent massive warm-ups and precip drops. From May 2009:
"...May 2009 was warmer than normal over most of New Mexico. While a majority of the west and central areas of the state enjoyed near to above normal precipitation, much of the east received below normal rainfall...."
Ok, perhaps he can use that. Maybe he saw this when he was running for his Senate seat last year. From May '08:
"...May  precipitation was below normal over western and central New Mexico, while eastern areas were near to above normal. Temperatures were near to a little above normal...."
This isn't exactly convincing data. Adding a little insult to injury, there's the anecdotal evidence of my own slightly delayed vacation last July where I toured high mountain passes in the southern Colorado Rockies that are normally cleared of snow weeks earlier. What caused that? Why, excessive snow during the winter of 2007-2008, as nicely described in this pretty web site:
"...The 2007-2008 snow season has been an epic one, with record breaking snowfalls in western Colorado. The town of Ouray (where I live) got over 21 feet of snow, more than twice the average, and the most in 60 years of records! The high mountains probably got twice that, if not more..."
Well, surely other parts of the west are suffering from predicted declines in snowpack, like in Montana. Oops, maybe not, the very same Great Falls Tribune reported just this past April:
"...The previous high for snowfall on April 29 in the city was 5.4 inches, set way back in 1913...."
And the Phoenix area just refuses to cooperate when it comes to scorching heat: "June  hasn't been this nice since ... 1913"
So, Senator Udall, hows that global warming crisis working out for ya?