Record Rain in San Jose?

From the Wunderground Almanac for KSJC, the San Jose California Airport:

Temperature	Today	Average	Historical Range
High		72 °F	80 °F / 27 °C 	66 to 101 °F / 38 °C 
Low		54 °F	58 °F / 14 °C 	51 to 70 °F / 21 °C 
Rain		0.07 in	0.00 in / 0.0 cm 0.00 to 0.00 in / 0.0 cm 
Snow		0 in	- 	- to - 
High Dew Point	54 °F	58 °F / 14 °C 	49 to 66 °F / 19 °C 
Low Dew Point	52 °F	51 °F / 11 °C 	41 to 60 °F / 16 °C 
Speed		7 mph	6 mph / 10 km/h 1 to 13 mph / 21 km/h

The day is still young, the clouds are still here, and drops are still in the air, so that number could rise, but as of now we’ve got 0.07 inches of rain. Yeah, 7/100 inch is not a whole lot. BUT, look at those OTHER numbers. Hard Zero all across.

It is quite bizarre to have this much cloud cover and ANY rain drops at all in the end of June.

We’ve been having a “every couple of weeks” dip into the “Cold Side Of The Jet Stream” as a Rossby Wave passes by.

You can see that in this monthly graph from Wunderground:

KSJC June 2011 Wunder

KSJC June 2011 Wunder

Oddly, just a bit up the freeway at Moffett Field NAS, it’s a bit cooler. So I’m left wondering why KSJC is where all the local stations send you when you ask for the history of THAT station, but instead get the hot International Airport history… (Wunderground seems to have instituted the policy of hiding the history from anywhere that isn’t an airport. The better to prevent anyone from demonstrating just how much Airport Heat Island is contaminating our temperature records lately…)

KNUQ NAS June 2011 Wunder

KNUQ NAS June 2011 Wunder

If you open those two and align them as a ‘blink’ between them, you get the interesting spectacle of two very large air fields, both just a tiny ways from The Bay, both just a couple of miles from each other, and yet the San Jose International is clearly hotter. Just look at the where the “normal” lines run and you can see that.

If you go about 25 miles south, but about the same distance from the ocean and with the winds blowing in from about the same direction (but clearly with at least a couple of stronger gusts) you some to Salinas. A small “farm town” airport. It is significantly cooler than KSJC.

KSNS Salinas June 2011 Wunder

KSNS Salinas June 2011 Wunder

I’ve looked at this “up down and sideways” and it sure looks to me like SJC has a bit warmer “cold nights” than the nearby non-airport stations. Wunderground won’t let me have their history, so I can’t demonstrate it with their graphs ( I’ll need to learn how to make graphs from other data to do that. Perhaps NOAA, perhaps another source). But frankly, it’s pretty clear that the International Airport is one of the hotter places around for trying to take the temperature of the place, and that it is strongly biased to warmer (especially when compared to the cow fields of 1950. When taking glider lessons just north of SJC we had to watch out for cows in the emergency landing field just off the end of the runway… That gliderport is now gone and the whole place is a sea of tarmac and asphalt roofing…)

But that aside, we’ve got something interesting going on with the weather when it’s raining, however slightly, in San Jose, at the airport, at the end of June.

When it is sprinkling here, it is often raining just a bit further north.

Total Precipitation.  Lt bl Trace, Med bl 0.2 in, Drk bl 0.4, Med Grn 1.0 inch, Yel 1.6 in

Total Precipitation. Lt bl Trace, Med bl 0.2 in, Drk bl 0.4, Med Grn 1.0 inch, Yel 1.6 in

Graph via Stormpredator

Oh yeah…

Guess that Mayan “Rain in 2012” glyph has some truth to it ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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19 Responses to Record Rain in San Jose?

  1. George says:

    It was pouring in my little section of San CuperTogaBell a few minutes ago. Never seen anything like this before. I have seen a little thundershower before, often with the rain not reaching the ground and a little “dry lightning” but nothing like a full-fledged winter Pacific ocean low pressure system this time of year.

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    Have a tarp over a “comfy chair” that was set on the porch for the “dry season”.. It’s raining… In June. Like I expect to see in March…

    This is just Sooo Wrong…

    IFF something similar gets reflected on the East Coast and / or over in Europe, we could be seeing the early stages of a ‘Year Without A Summer’. I think it will likely take a few more years of this slow slide into the cold side and a sleepy sun, then punctuted by One Big Volcano to get there.

    But even with just “a few little volcanoes” and “barely into the cooling”, and “first not fully shut down cycle of a major solar minium” we’re already in the “Aw Shit” side of crop failures, floods, and “not hot”…

    I sure HOPE this is just a fluke of weather…

    PS: Wunder now reports:

    0.23 in

    SFO is worse with:
    0.85 in

    But “Hope is not a strategy. -E.M.Smith”…

  3. Adrian Vance says:

    “Warmer is wetter, colder is drier,” is the first axiom of meteorology, but when we begin to move into a colder era the atmospheric system has to dump a lot of water. That is what I think is happening now. At the U of Illinois there is museum for the Wisconsinin Glacier that formed the great plains. There they claim that glacier was formed in 20 years. It put 5,000 feet of ice over what is now Chicago. Could it be happening again?

    For political analysis, science and humor see The Two Minute Conservative, Now on Kindle daily.

  4. Of course, every event, and even the lack of event, can confirm the coming Global Warming Catastrophe if you have stocked up a sufficient supply of confirmation bias.

    The personal effect, for me, is a delightfully cool summer. But a look back at the early 1970s and the declaiming of disaster then shows that warmer is better and cooler is crier.

    We’ve just had to forget that to predict a catastrophe that needed a “Something Must Be Done” approach.

    It’s not clear to me that it would take weeks or months to dump excess humidity out of the atmosphere, considering how much that level can vary during the course of a single day. Certainly weather patterns are changing, but I’m not certain that this characterization of them gets to the core of the phenomenon.

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

  5. E.M.Smith says:

    IMHO, it’s the ocean that matters. We’ve got 30 years of “heat buildup” from the warm phase to extract. It takes a lot of water evaporating from the ocean, dumping heat to the stratosphere, and landing again as rain, to cool down the bulk of it…

    The air doesn’t matter. It’s just the heat pipe from the ocean to the stratosphere.

  6. George says:

    Thing is, rain is a zero sum game. There is only so much moisture in the atmosphere at any given time. If some places are having extreme drought (Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Horn of Africa) then other places are going to be wetter than usual, but sometimes that other place might be an uninhabited piece of ocean.

  7. E.M.Smith says:


    True in a “static heat content” model. Now have a 30 year heat gain in the oceans followed by a 30 year heat loss.

    In the first case, warm air over a cold (but slowly warming ocean) has modest / low rain as the heat builds. In the latter case, as we have a compressed atmosphere and lower solar heating, the heat leaves the ocean in large quantities of new moisture, dumps heat, and falls as rain.

    More total moisture cycling faster until the ocean cools enough to be in balance with the newly colder air.


    Basically, put a 30 year “heat capacitor” in the ocean and wobble the “cold pole” of the upper atmosphere from HOT to COLD. During the HOT phase, heat builds up in the capacitor and not a lot of water evaporates (as the ocean is still cooler than the air), swap. Now a hotter ocean sees cooler air and heat flow drives water out of the ocean to condense and return. More rain. Lots of it. Until the ocean cools to match the cold pole of the air and the heat pipe slows down.

    The rate of fluid flow in the heat pipe is directly proportional to the temperature difference between the poles. We spent 30 years heating the ocean under a warming thick sky. The sky just got thinner and colder… Now the fluid flow is really picking up speed until the oceans are cooled.

    I think the “heat pipe model of the atmosphere” explains a great deal of the dynamics.

  8. George says:

    Well, at least since 2003, there has been no detectible heating of the ocean, that covers 8 years. In fact, it looks like the ocean has been undergoing a cooling trend over that time. North America has been cooling since 1998, most rapidly since 2000 or so.

    All this warming that people claim to be seeing comes from “adjustments” and not from actually raw data; mainly due to continuously adjusting past temperatures colder. Every few years they make the past a little colder so it looks like the present keeps getting warmer.

    The really dramatic cooling happened in 2008 when we sort of had the mother of all la nina events. We are currently only about 0.1 degrees C above the 30 year average.

  9. E.M.Smith says:

    From the Wunderground History page (now that the day is done):


    Actual: 0.60 in
    Average: 0.00 in
    Record: 0.02 in (1952)

    Houston, I think we’ve got a record!

    And I note with some small satisfaction that the prior record was last set during the LAST cold phase entry of the PDO(!)

  10. E.M.Smith says:


    You must look at BOTH the hot pole AND the cold pole of this heat pipe.

    The oceans did warm (though not nearly as much as asserted and only until, as you pointed out, about 8 years ago). BUT, since then, the sun has gone all sleepy and the UV has just DIED.

    That let the upper atmosphere cool dramatically and the whole air column has contracted.. Now you have a shorter, faster heat pipe with a much colder cold pole. Water flow can pick up a lot now, and start the ocean cooling cycle.

    Expect things to move in decade scale events and with near decade lags and it makes a lot more sense. Big things take a long time to turn around…

    We’ll likely be like this for a couple of decades now.

    As the ocean cools (calculate how many gigatons of water have to evaporate and fall as rain to cool 100 vertical feet of ocean by 0.1 C …) we’ll get a lot of rain. This will go on for a very long time…

    Someday the sun will wake up again, the UV will return, the air will thicken, warm, and become fluffy again, and the heat pipe will slow down. Then, about a decade later, we’ll notice that the ocean isn’t cooling any more… I put that at about 2040…

  11. Pascvaks says:

    Politically speaking, however, for AGW to really matter big time, it’s not ‘how’ much or ‘how’ little Earth gets overall but ‘where’ and ‘who’ gets ‘what’ (or not) and, of course ‘when’ too in the planting/harvest cycle. I guess ‘why’ is beside the point and any lame brain theory will do as long as the ‘right’ people get the blame and are made to pay everyone else on the planet for their history of capitalist greed and abuse. Yep! It’s all man made!

  12. PhilJourdan says:

    It is soooo wierd to read this discussion as on the right coast, rain comes on its schedule, not ours. Yet it looks like other than the left hook you are getting this year, California really does schedule its rain! ;)

    Having only lived in SF proper in the bay area, clouds (fog) are an almost daily occurrance. But yes, rain is relatively rare (except in the rainy season). Fortunately I was not spoiled too long by this phenomenom (only lived 6 years in Cali), so I accept that it does rain on our parade. But I can see how a life long resident can find it disquieting.

  13. E.M.Smith says:


    It’s not just ‘disquieting’. Rain on the peach orchards near harvest can be destricutive of the entire crop.

    I first got focused on “weather patterns” at about 8 years old. Farmers came into our restaurant and talked. I was hand washing cups and glasses at the sink behind the counter (plates and dishes with food scraps went to the larger sinks back of the kitchen – where I also hand washed them but on a different schedule… yes, I’ve hand washed a lifetime worth of dishes… this was before the age of automated dish washers…)

    At any rate, every August the farmers would start nervously talking about Rain.

    We were far enough north that MOST of the time, it did not rain at all in Summer. Nothing from about May to October. There were two main crops of peaches (early and late) and some variation in ripening dates. This kept the peach cannery busy from about mid-June / end of June through to about the end of August/ early September (then “punkin season” started as they canned pumpkin for pies through to about early November when rains made it too wet to harvest in the mud).

    Every year, about the first weeks of August, there would be 2 weeks of “cloudy and cool”. SOMETIMES this would result in some thunderstorms.

    IFF the rain landed on ripe peaches, it was an issue.

    Wet ripe peaches that had a sudden return of full sun and dry air would dry and be fine.

    Wet ripe peaches that stayed cold as the water evaporated would dry and be fine.

    Wet ripe peaches that stayed wet, and got warmed up under overcast summer sun, but not enough to dry: You get Brown Rot Fungus and lose the crop.

    Peach canneries don’t buy from guys with a bunch of brown rot in each bin…

    Needless to say, folks what for that “rain at the wrong time” really closely.

    Now, look at this list:

    June July August September’

    Notice that “early August” is just about the mid point?

    Early crop just harvested, late crop not quite fully ripe. Ideal

    ANY slide of the early crop to “a bit late”, or of the late crop to “a bit early” or of the “unsettled 2 weeks” either way (or strengthening or wider coverage area) was “a problem”.

    If you got hit with rain, your choices were:

    1) Do nothing. Hope it stays cool 2 days, or warms up and gets really sunny Right Now.

    2) Spray sulpher with your own rig, accept reduced profits.

    3) Hire a crop duster of you have the money and no rig.

    In bad years, #3 was fully booked and you would find yourself with reduced choices…

    So it litterally is an issue of “Eat or not eat” if we get rain out of season, more rain, or just rain of the wrong temperature profile.

    It’s very important to the wine industry as well.

    It’s critically important that it not rain here in summer so we can spend lots of time enjoying the fine weather at the beach growing crops for the nation.

    It’s not just a lifestyle choice, it’s an economic necessity ;-)

    Yeah, if things go all random we can convert to other crops and folks seem to be OK with tourism to places with summer rain. But it would take a while to do things like replace Brown Rot sensitive plants with more mold proof crops…

    So yes, rain at the End Of June is a major deal. We’re right at that point where the Early Peaches are near ripe (though, one can hope, a bit late this year due to the cold season so far) and some vinyards are thinking about how the grapes are developing.

    For me, the 2 days hot, then cold rain, has had my Runner Bean drop all its flowers. The Hummers are even hitting up the Tobacco plants for nectar. (I hope they don’t develop a ‘habit’ from it ;-) So I’m now “coping” with the loss of the flowers (and the beans they represent) as are my Hummers…

    For one of the major table food producers of the nation, “this matters”.

  14. PhilJourdan says:

    E.M. – Um, I found you made an error:

    this was before the age of automated dish washers…)

    I believe YOU were the automated dish washer (as my mother so often bragged to her friends). ;)

    As for the crops, I am aware of that. And I know about your gardening prowess as well (since I have used some of your tips already). But I (mis)assumed since you lived in SJ, it was not that big a deal (mostly college professors and other egg heads lived there – the growers are more inland).

    As for Peaches – I have not had a real tree ripened peach in so long I have forgotten how good they are – and they are grown here as well! Just never sold in stores.

  15. E.M.Smith says:

    Dang it. Just noticed I’d closed the STRIKE marker wrong… Fixed…


    Yeah, life in a family restaurant… “Robot” from the Czech for “worker”… it was a “robotic” dishwasher system ;-)

    I gave the exposition on peaches for the other 999 out of a 1000 who read, but don’t comment… Also, the rains were up in the North Sacramento Valley where I came from and where there are still lots of peaches. So I was talking about a larger area than just San Jose.

    SJ used to be very ag about 1950. My college roomie watched the orchards be mowed down to plant houses in Saratoga… Just a few miles south is still Ag, though. Also over the hill on the ocean side grows a lot of broccoli and brusselsprouts. Oh, and there are a few dozen Flower Farms on the way to the beach too. And the wineries start about 20 miles south of here (though it used to be about 5 miles from here when I first moved in… sigh…

    At any rate, “farming” resumes both inland (though past the grazing areas of the inland coastal range); south from the S.J. border onward including San Martin, Gilroy, etc.; and on a stripe west over the outer band of the coastal range (where cool season vegetable crops and flowers thrive). When I first moved here, a “Feed and Seed” store stood in Cupertino where Apple now has a 9? story high rise office, and over on Alum Rock there was (maybe still is?) a “Feed and Seed” that sold baby chicks… And “Orchard Supply Hardware” that has during my time here been sold to Sears…

    So it WAS orchards not that long ago, and they are still around a few miles south…

    My sisters Father In Law was a Peach Farmer. Had a “Belle of Georgia” peach in his yard for the family to eat. Had “hard clingstones” for the cannery…

    The Belle of Georgia will never be seen tree-ripe in a store.

    The ones I remember were a bit “whiter” than in that last link. I think the photoshop folks turned up the color saturation thinking white wasn’t right…

    At any rate, I remember trying to pick one, ooohh so gingerly, and getting “peach mush” on my fingers. Just “sauce in a skin” when fully ripe. I was instructed to get the ‘nippers’ and cradle each one in a soft gloved hand while nipping if I didn’t want to eat it at the tree… You simply can not pull one off the tree and have it stay intact… Then again, I was happy to eat my fill sitting in the tree ;-)

    Never had as good a peach since.

    (You CAN pick them by hand and whole if not fully ripe… but the flavor is weaker and the sugar lower…)

  16. George says:

    I remember peaches fresh from the tree as a kid and pears, too. We had a couple of apple trees, a couple of pear trees, a few peach trees and some walnuts. Man I loved those. My grandmother would can them and we would have them all winter. Picking was tricky because if you waited too long, they would start falling from the tree, too early and they were too hard/tart. Keeping the birds out of them was a big deal. Some birds would seem to like to come and take a single peck at a peach and ruin it. Once the skin was broken, the ants and other bugs would find it.

    This was in an area with a much higher population of bugs and birds and with more unpredictable weather than the central valley of California and they weren’t grown under commercial conditions. They were just planted here and there on the property. One of the pear trees was actually in the hog field and they got to eat most of those. I would sometimes get lucky and get one off that tree that hadn’t been too badly damaged by birds and bugs.

    One hail storm could take out the entire year’s crop, though.

  17. PhilJourdan says:

    @E.M. – As I said, I never lived down in that part of the bay. But I do remember back in 78 looking at houses for sale in Mountain View (in a brochure), and one was going for $100k (it was less than 1000 sq ft). I was living in a house at the time that was that size and cost 1/3 of that. So I again just assumed that there must be nothing but subsivisions out there now. However, NEVER assume. I live in a suburban community now, with subdivisions all around me, as well as convenience stores, a couple of strip centers, a Community college, a couple of middle schools and a high school (all this is within one mile of my house). AND a farm.

  18. Earle Williams says:


    My daughter and I arrived at OAK on Tuesday afternoon and were greeted with that delightful bit of precip. On our drive in to San Jose two lanes of 280 were closed off due to stormdrain overflow. I was fearful that the remainder of our trip was going to be equally dreary, but thankfully the weathernotclimate has returned to a more comfortable temperature.

    I notice that the area along First Street north of Taylor is predominantly business parks and strip malls. This was probably ag land fifty years ago. The high amount of commercial development means businesses in the area cater to the work-day crowd. Finding a store or restaurant open past 9:00 is an accomplishment.

  19. Earle Williams says:

    More California recollections. i grew uo in Sacramento, and summer there is hot and dry. I recall my first backpacking trip, cerca 1973. I think it was at Sly Park Lake in late June or early July. An afternoon storm rolled in and drenched us. I remember huddling under my improvised rain shelter (Dad’s clever use of plastic trash bags) and staring out in amazement, saying “It’s raining in the SUMMER?” It was the first rain I had ever seen at that time of year. it just didn’t happen in Sacramento.

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