Dry States Aren't Getting Drier

Over at Salon.com, Lindsay Abrams claims the following:

As climate change worsens, wet areas will see more precipitation, while dry areas are just going to get drier. That trend is already playing out for large swaths of the country, most notably California.

Sure it is.

Here are the 48 contiguous states ranked from wettest to driest by annual precipitation (1901-2000 average; the NOAA-NCDC default) along with their trends – or lack thereof – in annual precipitation since records began in 1895.

There is not one – repeat, not one – single state with a statistically significant trend toward less precipitation over the past 120 years.  Fifteen of the states have significantly increasing precipitation trends (aka they are getting wetter), but note where they are primarily located in this ranking.  It is the states with mid-range quantities of precipitation that are most likely to be getting wetter over time, not the wettest states.

Not only is Abrams's claimed "trend" not playing out in California (where annual precipitation has absolutely no significant correlation since 1895; the regression line is essentially perfectly flat), but it is not playing out anywhere else in the nation – and most certainly not in "large swaths."