Here's a variation on the crackpot jibe often cast from the right wing of weather worrying that usually goes like this: "How can scientists say they can predict the climate years in advance when they can't even get the weather right for more than a few days?"
A better question is found at Climate Central. Andrew Freedman, who in an earlier iteration of this post was put primarily at the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang (where he still does show up) gets some climate change experts to explain why hardly anybody raised advance red flags about the dreadful drought that dessicated, devastated, and generally demolished much of the US corn crop from May through July. One reason, the reader learns, is that it is really hard to do that even just a few weeks ahead of the drought's onset. Yet, once the drought is in gear, climatologists can fairly well foresee how long it will last and how its intensity and footprint will evolve. Hindsight does reveal a few conditions were in place, setting the stage. But those conditions are no guarantee, but are mere hints of what might come.
He does find a source at a NOAA lab in Boulder who says he warned of a drought. On the other hand, one supposes we don't read how often somebody somewhere can be found warning of droughts, or floods, or heat waves or onslaughts of cold.
Here's a prediction I made confidently half way through. Somebody would say the government is not spending enough money to make the improvements needed. Bingo. Freedman ends his piece, mentioning the present outlook according to today's state of the art. He ties that to a piece of advice about a grain of salt. This is an enterprising and well-sourced examination of a question that was worth asking.
Grist for the Mill: NOAA US Drought Portal ;
- Charlie Petit