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Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Revision as of 13:31, 8 August 2012

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58% of the state has gone into plaid.
Title text: 58% of the state has gone into plaid.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: partial explanation
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

This graph shows the levels of drought over time in the state of California using years on the horizontal axis and latitude on the vertical axis. The graph accentuates the use of the latitude on the vertical axis by visually rotating and stacking multiple maps of California on top of each other.

The geography of California lends itself well to this kind of graphical interpretation because (on a map where north is up) the state is much narrower than it is tall, large-scale phenomena like weather patterns are likely to cover much of the "width" of the state but only part of the "height". Because the variation in the west-east direction will be small, a side-on view of the state can be used as the vertical axis in a graph, so that the indicated values are either the average or extreme value across the width of California.

Randall compiled the data in this graph from data from the US Drought Monitor, which is authored by Richard Tinker from NOAA. The colors Randall uses correspond to drought intensity levels D0-D4 defined on the Drought Monitor site.

The graph shows that in 2000, 2005, and 2010, there were very little or no drought conditions in California, but that the intervening periods have seen increasingly severe droughts. According to the most recent data, the state is entirely in a condition of "severe" or worse drought, with "ludicrous" conditions across approximately half its area. The graph also reveals that 2014 is the first year (since 2000) where the "ludicrous" level has been seen.

The darkest, most severe level of drought is labelled "ludicrous," but a parenthetical remark indicates that the official term is "exceptional.". The term "Ludicrous" is a reference from the movie Spaceballs where the spaceship Spaceball One accelerates past light speed to ludicrous speed.

The title text is also a reference from the same movie. Lone Starr and Barf in their Winnebago space ship traveling at warp speed are passed by Spaceball One which is traveling at ludicrous speed. The path of Spaceball One is shown as a plaid pattern and Barf remarks "They've gone to plaid!".


Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.

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