Another Flooding Drought – The Broken Palmer Index

The Palmer Drought Indices

The Palmer Z Index measures short-term drought on a monthly scale. The Palmer Crop Moisture Index (CMI) measures short-term drought on a weekly scale and is used to quantify drought’s impacts on agriculture during the growing season.

The Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) (known operationally as the Palmer Drought Index (PDI)) attempts to measure the duration and intensity of the long-term drought-inducing circulation patterns. Long-term drought is cumulative, so the intensity of drought during the current month is dependent on the current weather patterns plus the cumulative patterns of previous months. Since weather patterns can change almost literally overnight from a long-term drought pattern to a long-term wet pattern, the PDSI (PDI) can respond fairly rapidly.

The hydrological impacts of drought (e.g., reservoir levels, groundwater levels, etc.) take longer to develop and it takes longer to recover from them. The Palmer Hydrological Drought Index (PHDI), another long-term drought index, was developed to quantify these hydrological effects. The PHDI responds more slowly to changing conditions than the PDSI (PDI).

First thing to notice is that there are many “Palmer Drought Indices” to choose from. What one is used on any one Scare Story about evil Global Warming Drought? Hard to say sometimes… But most of what I’ve seen is, I think, the PDSI.

The Palmer drought index, sometimes called the Palmer drought severity index and often abbreviated PDSI, is a measurement of dryness based on recent precipitation and temperature. It was developed by meteorologist Wayne Palmer, who first published his method in the 1965 paper Meteorological Drought[1] for the Office of Climatology of the U.S. Weather Bureau.

Note that it is NOT a long term average of precipitation. Getting an average 10 inches a year, but having a couple of years a couple of degrees warmer than prior years means you are “having a drought”, even if the rainfall was constant.

Note, too, that it does not state “who’s temperatures?”. I think we can assume it is one of the ‘cooked’ series from NOAA / NCDC / NASA GISS. Structural drought in the definition then, based on historical temperature rewriting adjustments.

The Palmer Drought Index is based on a supply-and-demand model of soil moisture. Supply is comparatively straightforward to calculate, but demand is more complicated as it depends on many factors – not just temperature and the amount of moisture in the soil but hard-to-calibrate factors including evapotranspiration and recharge rates. Palmer tried to overcome these difficulties by developing an algorithm that approximated them based on the most readily available data – precipitation and temperature.

So not even a straight temperature fudge. Nope. An algorithm in it bring in things like soil moisture (measured where? by whom? how often?) and evapotranspiration (so where does the plant data come from for when farmers swap from corn to sorghum and the evapotranspiration changes?) and a general fudge for “recharge rates”… All that fabricated via algorithm from precipitation and (fudged?) temperatures. So not really measured anywhere by anyone for this index.

The index has proven most effective in determining long-term drought – a matter of several months – and not as good with conditions over a matter of weeks.

I’ll say. See below where we have another “flooding drought”…

[…]Palmer also developed a formula for standardizing drought calculations for each individual location based on the variability of precipitation and temperature at that location. The Palmer index can therefore be applied to any site for which sufficient precipitation and temperature data is available.

And we get customized waffle parameters by location…

Critics have complained that the utility of the Palmer index is weakened by the arbitrary nature of Palmer’s algorithms, including the technique used for standardization. The Palmer index’s inability to account for snow and frozen ground also is cited as a weakness.

Not good with snow and ice, so we can have a frozen snowy drought. I’m also not liking that “arbitrary” nature.

The Palmer index is widely used operationally, with Palmer maps published weekly by the United States Government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It also has been used by climatologists to standardize global long-term drought analysis. Global Palmer data sets have been developed based on instrumental records beginning in the 19th century. In addition, dendrochronology has been used to generate estimated Palmer index values for North America for the past 2000 years, allowing analysis of long term drought trends. The Index has also been used as a means of explaining the late Bronze Age collapse.

But everybody is using it. And they even have a version using tree rings to hindcast temperatures and precipitation… Gee, what could go wrong.

Has a nice map of the severity of drought in Texas. For those not familiar with Texas cities, I’ve included a link to a map of the State with roads on it. Fort Worth is part of the Dallas / Fort Worth metroplex and is to the west of where that large knot of roads come together near the top right.

Notice when you look at the outline of the top of the State that Fort Worth is just below a ‘wiggly straight’ section where a drop happens. Then look at the drought map for the same area. (Hint: It’s the dark red blob area…)

Texas Drought Index April 2015

Texas Drought Index April 2015

So what is actually happening there? Right now Texas is having rain and thunderstorms over the north of the State, per the news on TV. But here is a news report from early April. Plenty of time for it to have been reflected in the “Drought Index”…

Heavy rains bring flooding to parts of North Texas

[Embeded video left out – hit the link. -E.M.Smith]

The Arlington Heights neighborhood in Fort Worth is dealing with the damage from flooding Monday. News 8’s Lauren Zakalik has more.

Lauren Zakalik and WFAA staff, WFAA 9:29 p.m. CDT April 13, 2015

FORT WORTH — A Flash Flood Warning has expired for Collin County and parts of Denton and Grayson Counties after one to two inches of rain fell over Tarrant and Denton Counties earlier Monday.

Meteorologists expected scattered showers and thunderstorms to hit North Texas overnight. A Severe Thunderstorm Watch was issued for counties in the southern portion of the WFAA viewing area through 11 p.m. Monday, but it was later canceled.

For Celia de la Cruz, these April showers are bringing massive headaches.

“It just comes this way and heads that way; it’s just horrible,” she said.

De la Cruz was talking about the gushing, rushing water that turned her quiet Fort Worth street into raging rapids on Monday. Her neighbor shot incredible video of the water rushing through backyards and funneling onto Carleton Avenue near Interstate 30 and Hulen Street.

It also has photos of cars partially under water…

It all happened Monday morning around 10 a.m., when downpours hit Fort Worth. The gushing waters also ripped up two roads in the area.

On the next street over, city crews were hard at work clearing debris from roads and patching up the holes. It’s a road they’ve been down before.

There is then another video titled “Flash Flooding in Arlington Heights” which is right next to Fort Worth.

WFAA reporters and editors documented the flooding issues throughout the day on Monday:

1:30 p.m. Atmosphere is pretty spent after AM soaking, but we’ll be watching for additional storms as front moves south of DFW. – WFAA Weather team

12:10 p.m. I expect more storms this afternoon. Some may be severe. Wind/hail main concerns from Dallas/Fort Worth & points south. Stay alert!! – Chief Meteorologist Pete Delkus

11:30 a.m. 2.2 inches of rain reported in Era, Texas in Southern Cooke County. – Chief Meteorologist Pete Delkus

11:03 a.m. A Flash Flood Warning is in effect until 2pm for Collin Co. and portions of Denton and Grayson Counties. – WFAA Weather team

Then another video titled “A dumpster was caught on video floating down a street on the UNT campus in Denton. StephanieK, WFAA viewer”

Denton is a town directly north of Dallas. Looked at buying a house there once, about 20 years back.

10:43 a.m. Oncor reporting 129 outages with 2,086 customers affected.

10:06 a.m. Heavy rain now shifting into portions of Dallas and Collin Counties. Will watch for potential flash flooding. – WFAA Weather team

9:30 a.m. Live coverage shows a vehicle submerged in flood waters in Fort Worth. The driver got out safely.

9:20 a.m. Police say flooding is spotted at Hulen and I-30. Drivers are urged to use caution.

It goes on from there with more photos and more reports. Also some nice weather radar showing the event.

Dallas Fort Worth area weather radar image during April 2015 flood.

Dallas Fort Worth area weather radar image during April 2015 flood.

Well, I guess we can add another thing to the horrors brought to use by Global Warming. The “Drought Flood”… Be sure to keep the boat ready for escape, and have sandbags for the doors. Never know when that drought is going to flood you out and you will need to boat down the road. Watch out for the floating dumpsters, though…

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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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17 Responses to Another Flooding Drought – The Broken Palmer Index

  1. omanuel says:

    Chiefio, government lies will continue until 70-year old roots of the lies are exposed. Every major university and federal research agency were used to deceive the public after WWII:

    The scientific revolution began with Copernicus’ 1543 discovery the Sun rules the solar system; Earth is one of many planets orbiting the Sun. The Church said this was heresy, but Galileo defended himself at trial in 1633, noting the heliocentric solar system is just the Divine Order that any other persistent observers could decipher.

    Stalin apparently won WWII during Aug-Sept 1945 events hidden from the public by a news blackout [1] and then united nations (UN) and national academies of sciences (NAS) on 24 Oct 1945 to hide NEUTRON REPULSIONthe powerful force of creation and destruction in cores of heavy atoms and ordinary stars from the public with three government-sponsored LIES [2]:

    1. SNM (Standard Nuclear Model): Short-range attractive nuclear forces bind neutrons together

    2. SSM (Standard Solar Model): Interstellar clouds of hydrogen form stars (H-fusion reactors)

    3. BBC (Big Bang Cosmology): A Big Bang created hydrogen from nothing and started time at t = 0.

    Although an atheist himself, Stalin’s greatest feat was soliciting the Church’s help in ending the scientific revolution in 1945. Here’s the proclamation Pope Pius XII made to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on November 22, 1951 [3].

    Thus was humanity denied the promise in the last paragraph of Aston’s Nobel Lecture of 12 Dec 1922: CHAOS and FEAR of nuclear annihilation during a news blackout in Aug-Sept 1945 [1] convinced political and religious leaders to unite nations (UN) and national academies of science (NAS) on 24 Oct 1945 to forbid public knowledge of Neutron Repulsion – the source of energy [2] that

    _ a.) Destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki;

    _ b.) Created and sustains every atom and life [3]; and

    _ c.) The climate of every planet [4] in the solar system.


    1. “Aston’s warning (12 Dec 1922); CHAOS and FEAR (Aug-Sept 1945)

    2. “Solar energy,” Advances in Astronomy (submitted 1 Sept 2014) or
    “Solar Energy for school teachers”

    Click to access Supplement.pdf

    3. Pope Pius XII, “The proofs for the existence of God in the light of modern natural science,” An address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (22 Nov 1951)

    4. O. K. Manuel, Barry W. Ninham, Stig E. Friberg, “Superfluidity in the solar interior: Implications for solar eruptions and climate,” J. Fusion Energy 21, 193-198 (2002)

  2. Graeme No.3 says:

    I assume that the Australian Bureau of Meteorology is using the Palmer method, which would account for their record in predicting droughts. See
    for regular examples. (Hint: Warwick is not an admirer of the BoM).

  3. R. de Haan says:

    The Real Science blog tells it right. US Government predicted the end of the World one year ago.
    We’re dealing with a bunch on traitor and you just messed round with one of their propaganda tools. Just screw them.

    Totally OT
    As for the internet and social media, I just watched a documentary about how IS is threatening Jordan pilots and their families thanks to all the info they have dumped on social media because they thought they had nothing to hide.
    Same now happens with Nato pilots, Police Officers, Politicians, Businessmen, you name it.

    Believe me that you fly your missions with quite another feel when you received a letter from the enemy telling you they not only have your name and private address but also know the school your kids are visiting and the car you drive, the restaurants and bars you visit… which friends you have.

    And now some extremists in the Green lobby make use of the same tools.
    They not only take your job but make direct personal threats. Stop saying this or that, we know where your kids go to school….

    People have been mixing up transparency with privacy and the grid keeps their data forever.
    Privacy not only allows you to act in freedom but it also provides security.

    When dumping holiday pictures, your new car, your sports team and other personal stuff on the grid, using Face Book, Linkedin, WhattsApp and Twitter under your real name this could come with severe consequences.

    Time to review our internet behavior before we need a new identity, plastic surgery and another place to live to maintain personal security.

    That’s how bad it has become.

  4. E.M.Smith says:

    @R. De Haan:

    And now you know why I do ZERO “social media”. There is likely enough about me on this blog to identify me, but then again I swap coasts every so often and have a closet full of guns along with several years of Karate training. My kids are all long gone and the spouse and I are likely not going to last all that much longer anyway. I don’t presently have a job (and when I do, it’s usually a short contract).

    Were it not for all of that, I wouldn’t share even what I have shared. Oh, and there’s another person with my name about 3 doors down from me and overall about 1 per 2000 of population, so the name isn’t much help… ;-)

    And yes, I often have “daddy’s little helper” near. Beretta .32 ACP with Winchester Silvertips. Same One Shot Stop stats as military ball .45 ACP, believe it or not… and don’t have to worry about taking out some kid 3 houses and 8 walls down…

    We won’t talk about what is with me in the car… but it is legal and lethal. Think medieval warfare…

    Paranoia? Nope. Prudent preparation given the visibility I have chosen against an immoral opponent with crazed followers. Never had to use any of it, hope I never will. But I was first aware of this and took heed from “3 Days Of the Condor”… Joubert (my favorite character in the movie, BTW) talking to Robert Redford who had just realized he was marked for life. Explained that one day a car would pull up, perhaps with someone he knew… . Offers to Redford a gun. “For that day…” at the end of:

    If you have not seen the movie, it is one of the best of all time. If you have seen it, time to watch it again! ;-)

    @Graham No3:

    Yes, I’m pretty sure it’s Global… and widely hyped in Australia (that has the same climate paradigm as California, BTW. I’ve often described it to friends as “California on a continental scale with an English underlay instead of Spanish”. That was my sense of the place when I was there.)


    I had enjoyed your more varied comments, but figured at some point you would again succumb to the urge to ride your favorite hobby horse. It’s OK, I understand. But do remember that threads have a topic, and it is best to stay with those. Repeated posting of the same mantra is what gets folks classed as “spammers”, and that would not be good, since I’m sure you are not one. But compulsions are what they are. Best of luck with yours.

  5. M Simon says:

    Well as long as you are like me – a dead man – perhaps you might want to look into what kind of buildings fall at roughly s=1/2at^2. Don’t those supposed floor collapses have to use up some of that energy and slow things down? What kind of buildings weakened by fire fall straight down? Shouldn’t there be differential forces because a fire like that is uneven? Look up “Architects and Engineers 9/11” There is a committee with that name or something like it. Then look at the fire responders during the day reporting… well look it up. And all that dust. Cement dust. And the dust was coming out of the building before the floors pancaked on each other. Proof? Well that was hauled away and melted down ASAP. And there are pictures of the day with pretty little flashes coming from every floor. In very short order. Well it changed my mind.

    And you know – at the time, long before I studied the above – I was hopping mad. Four seconds before the 2nd plane hit I said to the first mate – this means war. And we got two. Iraq and Afghanistan. The second to cover up the first. So who ever did it – it worked. And the main crop of the ‘stan? And funny enough Russia was allied with us for a time around then. I think Obama double crossed them. Bush – having had family in the game was of a mind to keep his promises. You know the deal, “when you live outside the law you must be honest”. I think Obama & Co. are double crossers. Expect him to die in a mysterious plane crash a year or so after he is out of office. Watch who sends the most flowers. It is just business. I wonder if he has a big enough “insurance policy” ? My guess is not. No matter what he thinks.

    Think of this little ‘toon as a Mo cartoon. Act accordingly.

  6. M Simon says:

    R. de Haan says:
    5 May 2015 at 11:10 pm

    It was always this bad. Always. All that has happened is that your illusions have been stripped away. Some how you got the Red Pill. But the remnants of the Blue are still with you. You still believe in “Truth, Justice, and the American Way”. And it is a pretty good illusion. And thankfully, one our Masters like. It could be worse.

    You know what I like doing when ever the Red Pill gets to be too much? Technology. It will give us in a small measure at least, some truth, some justice, some advance in the human condition. All the rest is just a matter of who is on top. Who will be getting a spike up the posterior and having to proclaim loudly how much they enjoy the experience.

    And to those watching? I’m still for hire. Technology projects. You know what I love. Call me Joubert. The more effort I have to put into design. logistics, and production schedules the less time I have for this. And there is that Fusion Project dying on the vine for lack of funding.

  7. E.M.Smith says:

    @M. Simon:

    Can we please keep the 911 thread highjack on just ONE posting:

    If you must keep banging on about it, do it there.

  8. M Simon says:

    Well I thought that thread had died and I saw R. de Haan who started it and I thought I’d say something. My apologies.

  9. E.M.Smith says:

    @M. Simon:

    Doesn’t really need an apology, but thanks for it anyway. Threads are set to have open comments for something like 6 months. ( It’s hard to find a new comment on an old thread when things are active, so I decided to cut off comments on old threads. I can open them if folks don’t mind their “singleton” comment not being noticed much…). I tend to review all postings as long as they show on the right side list, and any posting where I notice a comment (in that right side list or in the admin panel). Sometimes I’ll go back to very old threads and look them over when things are slow. So it can be a very long time before a ‘thread dies’.

    And yes, I generally don’t mind “wandering comments”… but when it is about something likely to generate a load of “does so / does not” and contention and is very much ‘off topic’ (and for things with conspiracy theories that also tend to attract ‘vigor’) I’d rather keep it in one place where folks can find it if they want, and ignore it if they don’t. Just sort of a housekeeping thing.

  10. omanuel says:

    @ E.M. Smith 6 May 2015 at 1:05 am

    Thanks for your response and the movie recommendation. Although George Orwell correctly predicted the future in the novel he started writing in 1946, “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” I do not despair.

    The force of creation of every atom, life and world in the solar system seems to be guided by the conscious and intelligent Mind Max Planck acknowledged in his 1944 speech at Florence, Italy on the “Matrix of Matter.”

    I do not understand it myself, but human selfishness would probably have already destroyed the human species if not for this benevolent force.

  11. p.g.sharrow says:

    @Oliver; Consider if you will all humans were connected and in communication with one another. Most people are generous and co-operative if given the chance. Greedy Evil Bastards only make up less then 10% of the population. But they gravitate or aspire to places of control of others lives. They conspire with others to keep everyone else ignorant of the truth as they set one group against another.
    The Internet gives us the opportunity to reach the entire world with truth. We don’t need these “leaders” to protect us and guide our lives. Men can Rule their own lives. Of would be Kings, Emperors and Despots, We Don’t Need Them.

    As to the Benevolent Force, We all have a part in it’s evolution. pg

  12. omanuel says:

    Thank you for your insight, p.g.sharrow. I especially liked and agreed with the last sentence. We all have a part in the evolution of the Benevolent Force.

    But it seems so much easier – and natural – to spend our time and efforts condemning the evil in others.

  13. p.g.sharrow says:

    Oliver; yes it feels satisfying to point out and condemn others defects, but, we can only change our own.
    We can only offer insight, enlightenment and encouragement to others, but they still must walk their own path, where ever it might lead them.

    Offer entertainment with enlightenment can have positive results as people will enjoy the entertainment and the information will circulate in their minds until they believe it is their own. Have a good evening my friend. pg

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