Wet Pavement Conspiracy?

Several years ago I began to notice that many TV ads for cars featured swooping shots of speeding cars on mountain or desert roads, many with wet pavement. As time went along, I became fixated on the ads showing cars in desert scenes roaring over wet pavement.

Movies also seem prone to wet scenes in Los Angeles. LA Confidential and Training Day quickly come to mind as featuring a large number of wet days and nights and puddles in back alleys.

How did they get this wet pavement? The arid and semiarid regions of the American southwest don’t have more than a handful of wet days in a year. In fact, deserts, typically have 10 or fewer inches of rain per year. Semiarid fall in the 10 to 15 inches per year. Here are a few cities and their average annual rainfall.

Average Annual Rain Fall (inches)

Miami

60

Atlanta

48

Boston

43

New York City

40

Washington, DC

39

Chicago

34

Jerusalem

19

Sacramento

17

Salt Lake City

15

Los Angeles

14

San Diego

10

Phoenix

7

Mojave Desert

4

Las Vegas

4

Cairo

1

More recently I have been noticing that TV and movie images of Los Angeles in particular are prone to wet pavement. Take the current Denzel Washington vehicle, Training Day, or the earlier LA Confidential as examples. Who are they kidding. We all know that LA is in a desert. Where does all this wet pavement come from? Are the filmmakers rubbing our noses in the history of all the Federal money that went into water projects?

11/20/01

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