Letters to the Editor: Stop repeating the myth of ‘normal’ rainfall in L.A.

Snow on the San Gabriel Mountains
Snow covers much of the San Gabriel Mountains on Dec. 27 after a strong Christmas Day storm dumped precipitation on Los Angeles.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Los Angeles — and by extension, Southern California — does not have “normal” rainfall. It never has and never will. (“At year’s end, Southern California’s precipitation remains above normal,” Dec. 31)

It has a calculated average of all years since record keeping began in 1877, and “average” isn’t the same as “normal.” If it were, then 60% of those years wouldn’t have received rainfall below the calculated average of about 14.7 inches.

Those numbers come directly from the National Weather Service’s website for L.A., where you’ll find that 17 of the 21 years between the 1944-45 season and the 1964-65 season fell short of average. And yet the populace didn’t freak out, because by then Angelenos had come to accept that dry years are counterbalanced by a smaller number of wet years, sometimes biblically wet.

Or, as Albert Hammond sang, “Seems it never rains in southern California ... it pours, man, it pours.” That song came out in 1972.


So please, let’s dispense with the false notion that anything about our rainfall is “normal.” What’s normal in L.A. is below average.

Joel Engel, Westlake Village