Typical Average Normal

Climatology and hydrology classes at UCSB taught me that rainfall is calculated as an average over several years. Over 100 years, you might have very high years of 38 inches, some years that are above average at 20 inches, and quite a few years that hit below average at 7-10 inches. All of those different numbers are added together and divided over the number of years to come up with the average.

I’ve looked at rainfall from all the years since the rainfall was first recorded out here on the best coast, and what we’ve had recently is about in line with what has happened in decades past. People seem to bring expectations of “normal” rainfall associated with other locales in which they have lived that are more in line with our highest years. It also probably doesn’t help that our hills are dormant brown in summer while winter white covers the dormant brown grass stage in many other places in the U.S.

The solution is pretty clear — we should live mostly like the lower rainfall years with conservative water use practices. The tendency many people have is to think we are back to normal during the high years. Please also use proper terms of average rather than normal for your reporting.

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