One of the oddest things just happened yesterday. The official rainfall total in Wausau was 1.03 inches. What is so odd about that, you ask. Well, the official rainfall total on Sunday in Wausau was also exactly 1.03 inches. In my experience forecasting I cannot recall another time when the exact same (large) amount of rain fell on consecutive days - from different rainstorms. If I had the time, I would look way back in the weather history for Wausau to see how many times this has happened.
I did take a quick look at some records from the late 1990s and early 2000s, just as a sample, and found a couple similar instances. On both September 19th and 20th of 1997 we had 0.05 inches of rain. On both August 3rd and August 4th of 2002 we recorded 0.29 inches of rain. What is different with these instances is that the rain occurred in the late evening and early morning. It was one rainstorm split by midnight. The most striking part of the last couple of days is that we had a steady moderate rain on Sunday. It stopped. Then another steady moderate rain developed Monday afternoon and it dropped the exact same amount of rain.
I should mention that there are numerous days in the records in which a trace of precipitation fell on consecutive days. There are also quite a few when 0.01 or 0.02 inches of rain fell on consecutive days or 0.10 inches of snow fell. The lighter the precipitation, the more likely we would have consecutive days with the same amount. There is a chance of more showers today but it is unlikely we will receive another 1.03 inches (more like a tenth of two). If we did, it would be unbelievably remarkable, or even downright wierd.
Here is a familiar story which I have covered in years past – the ecological debt. This is the thought/analysis that humans are living beyond their means – using up more resources than the planet/nature can provide. Here is this year’s annual pronouncement. From many past articles, it has been stated that humans have been running an ecological debt since 1979 (or sometime during the 1970s). This has always made me wonder how we can use more resources that nature can provide every year. Finally, this year, someone (the Global Footprint Network) has brought into the discussion the allegory of “savings” to help explain the illogical premise. Using up more resources than the earth provides every year is akin to spending more than your paycheck every two weeks. In order to keep “spending” a person has to dip in to “savings”.
Now all that is left for the Global Footprint Network (and others) to do is quantify the amount of ecological “savings” we have. Only then will we know if there is a possible collapse of human society on the near term horizon – due to lack of natural resources.
If the ecological debt grows and our “savings” are about to run out, what can we do? The Global Footprint Network claims that if everyone on the planet lived like people in India, then we would only use half of the resources provided by nature every year, so we would be ok. The problem is that no one wants to live like the majority of the population in India – which is sadly in squalor. Almost everyone wants to live like we do here in the U.S. People want comfort, wealth, and health. How do we get it? Just like we always have. Through innovation and hard work. As I was mentioning earlier this week, we can have progress, even as we use less energy.
In the end, I don’t subscribe to the fatalistic view that humans will use up all the resources. Not only is resource consumption a dynamic self-limiting activity, resources are as infinite as the universe and the human imagination.
Have a pleasant Tuesday! Meteorologist Justin Loew.
Posted under Nature
This post was written by jloew on September 27, 2011