Statement: “The last time we experienced a December this wet, Lyndon Johnson was in the White House,” wrote Michael Hogan, chairman of the San Diego County Water Authority board of directors, in an editorial the Union-Tribune published March 6.

Determination: True

Analysis: Hogan’s historical reference is accurate. The series of storms that pounded Southern California in December were some of the wettest in San Diego’s recent history. Gauges at Lindbergh Field counted five inches of rainfall in the month. It hasn’t rained that much in December since 1965, two years after Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as the nation’s 36th president.

Hogan, the chairman of an agency charged with ensuring the reliability of San Diego’s water supply, mentioned this 45-year rainfall gap in his editorial to urge against complacency in the wake of a wet winter: “Because of the region’s semiarid climate, truly wet years are few and far between, and dry years are very common.”

Wet years like 2010 are rare. It’s only rained more than that four years since 1965, as illustrated in the graphic above.

Hogan said only 6 percent of the region’s water supply came from local sources in the last decade and more should be done to capture unusual spikes in rainfall like December’s. The water authority plans to expand reservoirs that store water during dry months, such as the San Vicente Dam in East County. Raising the dam by 117 feet would double the region’s local water storage, Hogan said.

Those unusual spikes don’t happen once every 45 years. Last December’s rainfall has been exceeded in just 10 other months since December 1965.

Since Hogan’s statement accurately represents historic rainfall totals, we’ve called it True.

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