This Week in Our Universe: “Biblical Rainfall Amounts”
This week in our Universe: Leaving the Galaxy, Biblical Floods and the Edge of Space time. If I had my own tv show, this would be today’s episode. I don’t have a show, so you’ll just have to pretend. Come on, use your imagination, it’s good for you. I promise…and here we go. Part 1 takes us to the lovely state of Colorado.
1) Biblical Floods and the National Weather Service
In case you happened to miss the NWS discussion Thursday morning about the weather in the Denver and Boulder areas reflects, their conclusion was that it was one heck of a downpour! “Biblical” even, or at least so thought someone at the NWS on Thursday. And since then almost every news article on the flooding in Colorado contains the phrase “biblical rainfall amounts.” Don’t believe me, check out the 1 million+ hits already on Google. What I found most interesting is how challenging it was to actually find out what the NWS said besides the three words. I did finally track the source down, and you can read it all here, but the part which caught all the public interest is this bit:
AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DENVER/BOULDER CO
941 AM MDT THU SEP 12 2013
.UPDATE…MAJOR FLOODING/FLASH FLOODING EVENT UNDERWAY AT THIS
TIME WITH BIBLICAL RAINFALL AMOUNTS REPORTED IN MANY AREAS IN/NEAR
THE FOOTHILLS. PRECIPITABLE WATER VALUES IN EXCESS OF AN INCH AND
A QUARTER ON GPS SENSORS CERTAINLY SUPPORT LOTS MORE RAIN TODAY
AND TONIGHT. 13Z HRRR RUN HAS ANOTHER 1-3 INCHES OF RAIN
PREDICTED IN THE FOOTHILLS THROUGH 04Z SO THINGS ARE NOT LOOKING
GOOD. WILL EXTEND THE AREA OF THE FLASH FLOOD WATCH TO INCLUDE
ZONE 43 AND ALSO EXTEND IT IN TIME THROUGH 12Z TOMORROW MORNING.
In Lyons, Colorado the National Guard was sent in to help with the National Weather Service‘s “Biblical” flood. Boulder Sheriff Joe Pelle described the situation like this in a recent press conference: “We’ve lost roads. We’ve lost bridges. We’ve lost homes, cars. And we are just now beginning to assess the scope of the damage.” So luckily the flood is not actually Biblical, or else we would all be in trouble. Nonetheless, a disaster assistance request was just approved by the government for parts of Colorado, so it’s not all peaches and cream either, and 3 or 4 deaths have already been reported.
It appears like this is a 100-yearish flood, although there are some interesting debates about the 100 vs 1000 claims here and also including a climate change angle here, for those more interested. Interestingly, some Colorado officials apparently don’t like to use the “100-year” word any more, so now it is a 1 in a 100 percent chance flood, which sounds soooo much better. But does it still have the same effect on the general public?
“Hey Bob, did you hear the weather report for tomorrow?”
“Yeah, they said there was a one-in-a-hundred percent chance of a flood tomorrow.”
“One-in-a-hundred, how do ya like ’em apples? Shucks, I don’t really care none about the 1%. Screw it, I’ll take my chances with the 99%. Hey Tom, pass me a beer, will ya.”
“About that one percent thing…”
Or at least that’s how the authorial monologue imagined it playing out in my head. But the whole Biblical floods thing is pretty interesting, and really not surprising that this is happening in Colorado. Maybe I just find this all double fascinating because–totally independent and prior to anything happening in Colorado–I was studying and working on my research, which has been focused on creationist and young earth beliefs and views about the Biblical Flood and the age of the earth, among other ideas. It’s so interesting that I even put together a Storify for “biblical rainfall amounts,” which you can check out here.
I’m not kidding. I have a copy of Henry Morris and John Whitcomb’s “Genesis Flood” book in my backpack. Before bed I’ve been watching creationist science videos. Last time it was creation scientist Dr. Keith Wanser giving a lecture on “The Relevance of Physics, Cosmology & Astronomy for Young-Earth Creation.” The talk was actually pretty fascinating, but that is neither her nor there. But just the fact that this happened to overlap with the media meme “biblical rainfall amounts” is a parallax–no wait, I mean a paradox. Or maybe it’s kismet.
Stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3, where I discuss what it means that Voyager I has officially left our galaxy, and I explore whether our universe is bounded or infinite. In other words, does our universe have an edge? I know, crazy thought? All this and more in the next episode of The Adventure of Mr. Chris.
Until next time…stay dry!