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WeatherTalk: Dallas rain this week was not a 'one in a thousand year' flood

Meteorologists in the Dallas area noted no fewer than eight similar rainfalls in Dallas in the last 100 years.

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FARGO — Very heavy rain Monday hammered Dallas, Texas, dropping up to 10 inches of rain. One catchphrase that caught fire in news reporting called it a "one in a thousand year" rain. However, meteorologists in the Dallas area noted no fewer than eight similar rainfalls in Dallas in the last 100 years, making this more of a once in twelve and a half years rain rather than once in a thousand.

This sort of thing happens because headline writers are looking for the most interesting or ear-catching quote to get people to watch, read or listen to their story. All too often, the original exaggeration starts with an out-of-town reporter calling multiple sources for good facts and settling on the sexiest one for the headline. Then, as this story is passed around from one news outlet to another, it gets shortened for brevity. Eventually, there is little left of the story's content except the sexy quote which, out of context of the full story, is misleading.

Related Topics: WEATHER
John Wheeler is Chief Meteorologist for WDAY, a position he has had since May of 1985. Wheeler grew up in the South, in Louisiana and Alabama, and cites his family's move to the Midwest as important to developing his fascination with weather and climate. Wheeler lived in Wisconsin and Iowa as a teenager. He attended Iowa State University and achieved a B.S. degree in Meteorology in 1984. Wheeler worked about a year at WOI-TV in central Iowa before moving to Fargo and WDAY..
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