John Wheeler: Climate Change and the California floods

The relationship of the recent flooding to Climate Change is as complicated as California weather.

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FARGO — The stormy weather pattern across California is expected to wind down this week. Many people have been asking about what the relationship this weather has to the changing world climate and the answer is as complicated as California weather. California is generally very dry. Most areas have essentially a desert climate most of the time. Most of the rain falls from December through March, and this short wet season is unreliable.

When several years pass with a poor rainy season, things get extremely dry. When a rainy season turns rainier than average, flooding occurs. This is the nature of the California climate and the present flooding is a very normal part of the climate there. In fact, the rainiest winter on record there was in 1862. What is changing is the intensity and frequency of these things. The rainy winters are happening with less frequency, but when they do happen, there is a greater chance of excessive rain.

Related Topics: WEATHER
John Wheeler is Chief Meteorologist for WDAY, a position he has had since May of 1985. Wheeler grew up in the South, in Louisiana and Alabama, and cites his family's move to the Midwest as important to developing his fascination with weather and climate. Wheeler lived in Wisconsin and Iowa as a teenager. He attended Iowa State University and achieved a B.S. degree in Meteorology in 1984. Wheeler worked about a year at WOI-TV in central Iowa before moving to Fargo and WDAY..
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