Sunday, May 11, 2008

More urban hydrology, climate change and agriculture.






While I slept last night only about 0.7" of additional rain in St. Louis (see graph) sent Fishpot Creek up to around 2,000 cfs for the second time in 4 days! This creek only drains 9.6 square miles.

There are 10 years of record for this gage (with a big gap in the middle), and these flows are near or larger than all but three of the annual maximum values. An interesting lesson in the use of annual peaks for return interval analysis.

Our weather is truly bizarre this spring. We've had strong winds here all day, with non-storm winds routinely taking down trees (gusts near 50 mph). Several people are dead (again) in Oklahoma and SW Missouri from tornadoes, and my Mom down in central Arkansas reports that people are starting to wonder what this climate change business is all about.

We've had so much wet weather that it seems odd to have a day without rain. We're having an extraordinarily wet and cool spring, no doubt. We'll see a low of 42F here tonight, only about 6 degrees above the record. Just last year a late frost completely wiped out the peach crop here, an unprecedented (in local memory) event that nearly happened again this year, with a light frost nearly two weeks past the "last frost" date.

The row crop folks are having a hard time this year. From Friday's AP wires:

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Prices are rising, but the rain's been falling and that's dragged Midwest corn planting to its slowest rate in more than a decade. Analysts say it all adds up to even higher food prices. An Agriculture Department report out today says corn production could be down as much as seven percent this year. Last year saw record breaking harvests, but an ethanol boom and increasing exports continued to push demand and corn prices. The department estimates that about a third of the expected 12 billion bushels to be harvested this year will be directed toward ethanol production. Meanwhile, the wet weather has kept farmers from getting their crops in the ground. As of May 4th, only 27% of the nation's corn crop had been planted. One trader says "we're staring at" a big problem.

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