May 2016 was the warmest May on record, 1.56°F (0.87°C) above the 20th century average. It was the first month since November 2013 to have an anomaly less than 1°C above the 20th century average, a sign of El Nino’s demise.
For the year-to-date, temperatures are 1.9°F (1.08°C) above the 20th century average, according to NOAA, putting it 0.43°F (0.24°C) above where 2015 was at this point. A Climate Central analysis that averages NOAA and NASA temperature data and compares them to a 1881-1910 baseline (closer to pre-industrial temperatures) found that the year-to-date is 2.5°F (1.39°C) above that average, edging closer to 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures.
So far, it is likely that 2016 will top 2015 as the warmest year on record, but that depends in part on how the rest of the year plays out. If a La Nina forms by fall, as expected, that could depress global temperatures slightly.
In a mark of how hot the last few years (which saw three consecutive record hot years) have been, NOAA compared the top 10 warmest months globally as of November 2013 to the current list. As of last month, all but one of the 10 warmest months on recorded occurred in 2016 and 2015. The lone exception was January 2007, which was tied for tenth place. Back in November 2003, it was the warmest month on record.
The U.S. Climate of 2014: Remarkable Hot, Cold, Wet and Dry Extremes
By: Bob Henson , 4:17 PM GMT on January 12, 2015
How you experienced the climate of 2014 depended a great deal–by some measures, more than any year in U.S. history–on where in the nation you happened to be. This was made abundantly clear in the full 2014 report on U.S. temperatures and precipitation, released this morning by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). When looking at the entire contiguous 48 states, the annual rankings aren’t especially striking: the year placed 34th warmest and 40th wettest out of 120 years of data. The overall warmth comes as no surprise, given that every year since 1996 has placed above the nation’s long-term temperature average.
These unremarkable statistics obscure the real story of 2014: the titanic contrast between a parched, scorched West (especially California, where the heat left all-time records in the dust), a very warm New England and Florida, and a much cooler area in between, with some months at or near all-time record lows in states stretching from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast.
NCDC’s state-by-state map of 2014 temperature rankings (see Figure 1) tells the tale vividly. California, Nevada, and Arizona all saw their hottest year on record, going back to 1895. The year placed among the top-twenty warmest in most of the other western states, as well as in Maine. At the same time, a corridor of seven central states–Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan–saw 2014 place among their top-ten coolest years.
Figure 1. State-by-state rankings for annual average temperature in 2014. A ranking of 1 denotes the coolest year in the 120-year record, while 120 denotes the warmest. Image credit: NOAA National Climatic Data Center.
Another way to look at these contrasts is through the statistical lens of NCDC’s Climate Extremes Index. The CEI is made up of five different indicators that show how much of the nation experienced a particular type of weather extreme. Two of the indicators relate to the percentage of the nation experiencing either unusually warm or cold daily highs or unusually warm or cold daily lows (averaged from month to month in both cases). Some 23.2% of the contiguous U.S. qualified as having unusually warm highs for the year, which is the 18th-largest percentage out of the past 120 years. The percentage of the nation experiencing unusually cold highs (18.6%) ranks 21st. What’s especially intriguing is that this is the first year on record that both the warm-high and cold-high percentages have exceeded 15%, a sign of how difficult it is to sustain such wildly divergent temperature regimes between the Pacific and Atlantic for an entire year. Overall, using all the elements of the CEI, 2014 ranked as the 9th most extreme year since 1910 (excluding the impact of tropical cyclones), or the 19th most extreme when including the impact of tropical cyclones. Interestingly, for the second year in a row, daily record low minimums occurred more often than daily record high maximums (20,937 vs. 14,122). This trend is unlikely to continue; the opposite occurred for a number of years prior to 2013.
The Midwest and Southern chill established itself early, with a series of cold-air outbreaks that came to be associated with the term “polar vortex”. (That phrase’s meaning became so mangled in press coverage and popular understanding that it led the American Meteorological Society to update its official definition). Colder-than-average weather persisted across much of the central and east until May and June, which came in above average in most states. Midsummer saw a return to strikingly cool weather across the nation’s heartland. The pattern was even more unusual–and pleasant for millions of residents–in that it was accompanied by relatively dry weather. It was the coolest July on record for Arkansas and Indiana, and the second coolest in Illinois, Mississippi, and Missouri.
After the west-to-east contrast eased somewhat in late summer and early autumn, a record-setting Arctic outbreak in November reestablished the cold-east/warm-West pattern once more, leading to the second-coldest November on record for Alabama and Mississippi. Finally, just in time for the holidays, the 48 states got on the same temperature track, with unusual mildness nationwide producing the second-warmest December on record. Alaska joined in as well: the state’s 19 first-order weather stations were a collective 7.5°F above average for the month, and Fairbanks saw its second warmest December in its 111-year record, according to the Alaska Climate Research Center. Overall, 2014 was Alaska’s warmest year in a 97-year period of record, with an average statewide temperature 4°F above the average for 1971-2000.
Figure 2. State-by-state rankings for annual average precipitation in 2014. A ranking of 1 denotes the driest year in the 120-year record, while 120 denotes the wettest. Image credit: NOAA National Climatic Data Center.
Days of deluge
The national precipitation ranking and the state-by-state maps (see Figure 2) hide some dramatic contrasts as well. Most of the year was extremely dry in California, even though the state ended up near average for total annual precipitation. Elsewhere, intense bouts of precipitation made the headlines in a number of spots. Day after day of extreme rain pushed the June precipitation totals across parts of the Midwest into record-obliterating territory. Sioux Falls, South Dakota, received 13.70″ for the month, with more than half of that falling in just three calendar days. The town of Canton broke South Dakota’s monthly precipitation record with 19.65″.
Several major one-day rainfall events emerged from an extremely moist summer air mass that slathered much of the eastern United States in early August. Detroit experienced its second-heaviest calendar-day rainfall (4.57″) on August 11, as did Baltimore on August 12 (6.30″). Even more impressive was the 13.57″ that fell at Islip, New York, on August 11-12. The downpour set a new state record for 24-hour rainfall, which is especially noteworthy given that a tropical cyclone was not directly involved. A few weeks later, not to be outdone, Phoenix set an all-time calendar-day rainfall record on September 8 with 3.29″, fed by deep moisture from ex-Hurricane Norbert.
Figure 3. A highway in Brentwood, New York, resembles an infinity pool after more than a foot of rain fell across parts of central Long Island on August 11-12, 2014. WunderPhoto credit: Hurricane765.
The NCDC’s Climate Extremes Index lends some statistical backing to this anecdotal portrait of deluges. The “extremes in 1-day precipitation” indicator measures how much precipitation for the year fell in calendar days with extreme amounts (equal to the wettest tenth percentile of all days). Some 15.3% of the nation saw a much-above-average number of days fall into this category for 2014. That’s a bit less than the 2013 value of 16.3%, but still enough to put it at 11th highest of the past 120 years. Notably, all of the top seven years for this index, and 13 of the top 15 years, have occurred since 1990.
Wet days getting wetter, and droughts getting hotter
The recent uptick in extreme one-day precipitation totals across the nation is consistent with more than a decade of research showing that many parts of the world, including the United States, are seeing their heaviest bouts of rain and snow getting even heavier over time. This conclusion was reinforced on a national and regional scale in the 2014 U.S. National Climate Assessment and on a city-by-city scale in a study by Brian Brettschneider (Boreas Scientific LLC) highlighted by Weather Underground blogger Chris Burt last August. The result is also consistent with the basic concept that a warming planet will see an increase in hydrologic contrasts, as warmer temperatures allow for more water to evaporate from lakes, oceans, and plants–helping boost the output of rainstorms and snowstorms–while sucking more water from already-parched land, intensifying the effects of drought.
This process is vital to keep in mind when taking stock of the California drought, arguably the nation’s most catastrophic weather event of the year. Although calendar year 2013 was the state’s driest on record, the water year of 2013–14 (July to June) placed third driest. (Water years are the most commonly used index for assessing California precipitation, which occurs mainly in the fall through spring). A NOAA-led study released in December found that the severity of drought conditions over the last three water years–looking only at rainfall–is within the realm of natural variability, with 1974–75 to 1976–77 even drier than the period from 2011–12 to 2013–14. However, the temperatures associated with the more recent drought went well beyond what one would expect from historical analogs (see Figure 4), which has made the impact on ecosystems, agriculture, and people even more severe. The NOAA study acknowledged, “record-setting high temperature that accompanied this recent drought was likely made more extreme due to human-induced global warming.” In a similar fashion, the intense Texas drought of 2011 was associated with all-time temperature records established during the brutal, more prolonged droughts of the 1930s and 1950s. As states and regions consider how best to adapt to drought conditions in the future, they would be well advised to consider the possibility that temperatures during drought periods could soar beyond anything observed in more than a century of experience.
Figure 4. The annual average temperature for California in 2014 came in far above the previous record for the last 120 years, and it was roughly 4°F above the 20th-century average. Image credit: NOAA National Climatic Data Center.
Figure 5. A lone weed grows on an unplanted field on August 21, 2014 in Firebaugh, California. As the severe California drought continued for a third straight year, Central California farming communities struggled to survive, with an unemployment rate nearing 40 percent in the towns of Mendota and Firebaugh. Photo credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.
June 2013 was the 15th warmest June in the contiguous U.S. since record keeping began in 1895, said NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) in their latest State of the Climate report. Six Southwest U.S. states had a top-ten warmest June on record, and no states recorded a significantly below-average June for temperatures. Over three times as many record warm highs and lows occurred than record cold highs and lows during June. For the year-to-date period January – June, both temperature and precipitation over the contiguous U.S. have been above normal, ranking in the upper 33% and 23% of years, respectively.
According to NOAA’s U.S. Climate Extremes Index (CEI), which tracks the percentage area of the contiguous U.S. experiencing top-10% and bottom-10% extremes in temperature, precipitation, and drought, June extremes were about 10% below average, and the year-to-date period January – June 2013 has been 20% below average.
Figure 1. Historical temperature ranking for the U.S. for June 2013. Six Southwest U.S. states had a top-ten warmest June on record, and no states recorded a significantly below-average June for temperatures. Image credit: National Climatic Data Center (NCDC).
Wet June on the East Coast raises hurricane flood risk
It was a very June for the contiguous U.S., ranking as the 13th wettest June since 1895. New Jersey and Delaware had their wettest June on record, and sixteen other eastern states had a top-ten wettest June. The very wet June has brought some of the highest soil moisture levels ever recorded for July along much of the coast from Florida to Maine, increasing the chances of extreme flooding should this region receive a hit from a tropical storm or hurricane during the coming peak months of hurricane season. The latest 2-week forecast from the GFS model keeps the East Coast under a wetter-than-average weather pattern into early August, and the latest 1-month and 3-month precipitation outlooks from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center also give above-average chances of wetter than average conditions. Lake Okeechobee in Florida is 1.4′ above average for this time of year, and 5′ higher than two years ago. While this still puts the lake 1.2′ below what is considered high water, Lake Okeechobee water levels will need to be watched as we head into the peak part of hurricane season.
Figure 2. Historical precipitation ranking for the U.S. for June 2013. New Jersey and Delaware had their wettest June on record, and sixteen other eastern states had a top-ten wettest June on record. Utah had its driest June on record, and Arizona, Colorado, and Wyoming had a top-ten driest June. Image credit: National Climatic Data Center (NCDC).
Figure 3. Soil moisture for July 14, 2013, expressed as percent average of the soil moisture observed between 1916 – 2004. Portions of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire are near their highest soil moisture levels on record for this time of year, increasing the odds of extreme flooding in those states should a tropical storm or hurricane hit this year. Image credit: University of Washington Variable Infiltration Capacity Macro-scale Hydrological Model, which includes soil moisture, snow water equivalent, and runoff.
Drought conditions remained relatively unchanged during June. According to the July 9 Drought Monitor report, about 45% of the contiguous U.S. is still in moderate or greater drought, compared to 44% at the beginning of June. The U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook issued on June 21 calls for little overall change in the U.S. area covered by drought conditions during the remainder of summer. Approximately 1.2 million acres of land burned in the U.S. during June, which is above average. However, the year-to-date total acreage burned is the second lowest in the past ten years.
Quiet in the Atlantic
There are no tropical cyclone threat areas in the Atlantic to discuss today, and none of the reliable models for tropical cyclone formation is predicting development during the coming seven days.
February 2013 was the globe’s 9th warmest February since records began in 1880, said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) on Thursday. February 2013 global land temperatures were the 11th warmest on record, and global ocean temperatures were the 8th warmest on record. February 2013 was the 336th consecutive month with global temperatures warmer than the 20th century average and the 37th straight warmer-than-average February. The last time Earth had a below-average February global temperature was in 1976, and the last below-average month of any kind was December 1984. Global satellite-measured temperatures in February 2013 for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere were 10th or 8th warmest in the 35-year record, according to Remote Sensing Systems and the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH), respectively. The Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent during February 2013 was the 16th largest in the 47-year period of record. Wunderground’s weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, has a comprehensive post on the notable weather events of February 2013 in his February 2013 Global Weather Extremes Summary. Costly weather disasters were relatively rare in February, according to AON Benfield. The most expensive weather-related disasters in February 2013 were:
1) Drought in Central and Eastern China, 1/1 – 2/28, $541 million
2) Winter storm in Eastern China, 2/18 – 2/21, $124 million
3) Winter Storm Nemo, Northeast U.S., 2/8 – 2/9. $100+ million
4) Hattiesburg, MS tornado and associated storm damage, 2/9 – 2/11, $100+ million
The deadliest February weather disaster was Tropical Cyclone Haruna, which hit Madagascar at 00 UTC Friday, February 22, as a Category 2 storm with 105 mph winds, killing 26.
Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average for February 2013, the 9th warmest February for the globe since record keeping began in 1880. Colder than average conditions occurred in the Western U.S., western Europe, and northern Russia. No land areas in the Southern Hemisphere were cooler than average, and record warm conditions were experienced in parts of Indonesia and northern Australia. Image credit: National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) .
Figure 2. The deadliest weather disaster of February 2013 was Tropical Cyclone Haruna, which hit Madagascar at 00 UTC Friday, February 22, as a Category 2 storm with 105 mph winds, killing 26. In this image, Haruna is over Madagascar at 11:05 UTC February 22, 2013, and was a Category 1 storm with 90 mph winds. Image credit: NASA.
Figure 3. The most expensive weather disaster of February 2013 was the on-going drought in Central and Eastern China, which has cost $541 million since the beginning of 2013. Image credit: Beijing Climate Center.
Neutral El Niño conditions continue in the equatorial Pacific
For the 11th month in row, neutral El Niño conditions existed in the equatorial Pacific during February 2013. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) expects neutral El Niño conditions to last through spring. Temperatures in the equatorial Eastern Pacific need to be 0.5°C below average or cooler for three consecutive for a La Niña episode to be declared; sea surface temperatures were 0.1°C below average as of March 11, and have ranged from 0.1 – 0.6°C below average during 2013.
Arctic sea ice falls to 7th lowest February extent on record
Arctic sea ice extent during February reached its seventh lowest extent in the 35-year satellite record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). This was the 11th consecutive February and 141st consecutive month with below-average Arctic sea ice extent. The last ten years (2004 to 2013) have seen the ten lowest February extents in the satellite record. Arctic sea ice is nearing its winter maximum and will soon begin to melt.
U.S. Corn Production Outlook Cut As Drought Takes Toll
AP | By JIM SUHR Posted: 08/10/2012 9:34 am Updated: 08/10/2012 11:02 am
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The government slashed its expectations for U.S. corn and soybean production for the second consecutive month Friday, predicting what could be the lowest average corn yield in more than 15 years as the worst drought in decades continued punishing key farm states.
Nonetheless, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, in a statement supplied exclusively to The Associated Press, insisted that U.S. farmers and ranchers remain resilient and that the country would continue to meet demand as the global leader in farm exports and food aid.
The U.S. Agriculture Department cut its projected U.S. corn production to 10.8 billion bushels, down 17 percent from its forecast last month of nearly 13 billion bushels and 13 percent lower than last year. That also would be the lowest production since 2006.
The USDA, in its monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, now expects corn growers to average 123.4 bushels per acre, down 24 bushels from last year in what would be the lowest average yield in 17 years.
Soybean production is now forecast at 2.69 billion bushels, a 12 percent decline from last year and well off the 3.05 billion bushels the USDA had expected last month. Expected yields on average of 36.1 bushels per acre would be the lowest since 2003.
Friday’s revised outlook comes months after corn farmers forecast a record year when they planted, sowing 96.4 million acres — the most since 1937. But the USDA now forecasts the area to be harvested at 87.4 million acres.
On Thursday, the U.N. food agency drew a direct correlation between price hikes in basic food commodities and the months of parched conditions in farm states. The Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization said in its monthly price report that its overall food price index climbed 6 percentage points in July, although it was well below the peak reached in February 2011. The FAO’s index, considered a global benchmark used to track market volatility and price trends, measures the monthly price changes for a basket of food items including cereals, oils and fats, meat, dairy products and sugar.Severe drought punishing the U.S.’s midsection has sent corn prices soaring, and expectations of worsened crop prospects in Russia because of dry weather sent world wheat prices up 19 percent, according to the FAO, which keeps close tabs on volatile global prices. Spikes in the prices of staple foods have led to riots in some countries in recent years.
But on Friday, Vilsack tried to tamp down such concerns.
“Americans shouldn’t see immediate increases in food prices due to the drought,” said Vilsack, as he visited drought-stricken Nebraska and with plans to be in Iowa next week. “What is important going forward is that we continue to do all we can to help the farmers, ranchers, small businesses and communities being impacted by this drought.”
Rick Whitacre, a professor of agricultural economics at Illinois State University, said consumers may see modest increases in prices in grocery stores due to tightened corn supplies because the grain is so ubiquitous, found in everything from cosmetics to cereal, soda, cake mixes and candy bars. But he believes the bigger fallout will come in 4 to 6 percent price increases for beef and pork, with many ranchers having sold off their livestock as feed costs rise and the drought burned up their pasturelands.
“You’re going to see the ripple of this go out for quite a distance,” Whitacre said. “We may see some upward pressure (on prices), especially in things like vegetable oil and a lot of our food products,” but that should be manageable.
The U.S. leads the world in exporting corn, soybeans and wheat, and the surging prices are expected to be felt across the international marketplace, hurting poor food-importing countries, said a study by British charity Oxfam issued on the eve of the U.N. report.
Vilsack said he has pressed Congress to pass a comprehensive, multi-year farm bill “that gives farmers and ranchers more certainty in this tough time, while giving USDA tools to help those producers affected by weather-related events beyond their control.”
The USDA foreshadowed the newly lowered yield projections, noting earlier this week that exactly half of the nation’s corn crop was rated poor to very poor, up 2 percentage points from the previous week and creeping closer to the peak of 53 percent of 24 years ago. Some 39 percent of soybeans now fall under those two categories, rising 2 percentage points for the second straight week and eclipsing the 1988 benchmark of 37 percent.
The nation’s rangeland and pastures are faring even worse, with roughly three-fifths rated to be in poor to very poor shape — the largest area thus affected in 18 years.
Friday’s USDA report amplified the troubling picture painted a day earlier when the latest weekly U.S. Drought Monitor map showed that the drought conditions continue to worsen in Plains states, where production of corn and soybeans is key. That update showed that the expanse still gripped by extreme or exceptional drought — the two worst classifications — rose to 24.14 percent, up nearly 2 percentage points from the previous week.
Federal scientists say this July was the hottest on record, smoking out even the sweltering temperatures set in the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Wednesday that the first seven months of 2012 were the warmest on record while the stretch from August 2011 through July this year was the balmiest 12-month period the U.S. has experienced.
Thousands of dead fish Common carp (Cyprinus carpio). Public domain image from USFWS National Image Library. Created by Duane Rave
Thousands of Fish Die in Midwest Heat
As the Midwestern United States suffers from the worst drought combined with searing temperatures in 50 years, thousands of dead fish are turning up in lakes and rivers as water temperatures rise to almost 100 degrees, reports ABC News.
“It’s something I’ve never seen in my career, and I’ve been here for more than 17 years,” said Mark Flammang, a fisheries biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “I think what we’re mainly dealing with here are the extremely low flows and this unparalleled heat.”
One of the worst cases of fish killed occured in Iowa when water temperatures reached 97 degrees, hot enough to kill more than 40,000 shovelnose sturgeon.
State officials commented that they have never seen such a massive die off of sea creatures in the last 20 years.
The massive die-off has caused a loss of $10 million to the state since the sturgeon are a prime source of caviar produced from their eggs.
Thousands of bass and catfish have likewise turned up dead in rivers in Illinois, with several endangered species threatened with extinction, including the greater redhorse fish in Illinois and the pallid sturgeon in Nebraska.
Flammang said since July, more than 3,000 existing heat records have been broken throughout the Midwest and forecasters can’t predict when the devastating heat and drought will end.
“Those fish have been in these rivers for thousands of thousands of years, and they’re accustomed to all sorts of weather conditions,” he said. “But sometimes, you have conditions occur that are outside their realm of tolerance.”
The following facts compiled by the AP give a good picture of just how bad things are:
• Iowa DNR officials said the sturgeon found dead in the Des Moines River were worth nearly $10 million, a high value based in part on their highly sought eggs, which are used for caviar.
• The federal U.S. Drought Monitor shows nearly two-thirds of the lower 48 states are experiencing some form of drought.
• The Department of Agriculture has declared more than half of the nation’s counties — nearly 1,600 in 32 states — as natural disaster areas.
• More than 3,000 heat records were broken over the last month.
Tropical storm warnings continue to fly from Alabama eastward to Suwannee, Florida, as Tropical Storm Debby sits motionless over the Gulf of Mexico. On Sunday, Debby spawned a multitude of severe thunderstorms over much of Florida, which brought torrential rains, damaging winds, and numerous tornadoes. NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center logged 20 preliminary tornado reports on Sunday, and a tornado in Venus, Florida killed one person. Venus is in Central Florida, between Port St. Lucie and Sarasota. Another person is missing in Alabama, swept away by rough surf. The heaviest rains of Debby affected the Tampa Bay region, where over ten inches were reported at several locations. The Tampa Bay airport picked up 7.11 inches on Sunday. It’s a good thing this isn’t the week of the Republican National Convention, which is scheduled for late August in Tampa! Minor to moderate flooding is occurring at three rivers near Tampa, and flooding has been limited by the fact the region is under moderate to severe drought.
Figure 1. Radar-estimated rainfall from Tropical Storm Debby has totaled over 6 inches (orange colors) along a swath from Tampa to Ocala.
Winds from Debby have fallen considerably since Sunday, thanks to a slug of dry air that wrapped into Debby’s core, disrupting the storm. Our Wundermap for the surrounding ocean areas shows that winds at almost all buoys and coastal stations along the Gulf Coast were below 30 mph at 8am EDT. The exception was a Personal Weather Station at Bald Point, near Apalachiacola, Florida, which reported sustained winds of 32 mph. An Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft flying through Debby has measured top surface winds of 43 mph as of 9 am EDT. Visible satellite loops show Debby has virtually no heavy thunderstorms near its center of circulation, which will severely limit its potential for intensification today. The heavy thunderstorms of Debby are mostly on the east and north sides. Upper-level winds out of the west creating a moderate 10 – 20 knots of wind shear that continues to drive dry air into Debby’s core. This dry air can be seen on Water vapor satellite loops. Ocean temperatures are about 27.5°C (81°F) in the Northern Gulf of Mexico, which is about 1°F above average, but these waters do not extend to great depth, which will limit how strong Debby can get.
Figure 2. True-color visible Aqua satellite image of Debby taken at 3 pm EDT Sunday June 24, 2012. At the time, Debby had top winds of 60 mph. Image credit: NASA.
Forecast for Debby
Debby’s slow motion will make rainfall the primary threat from the storm, though tornadoes will continue to be a threat over the next few days. NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center has placed most of Florida in its “Slight Risk” area for severe weather today. The slow motion of Debby will inhibit intensification of the storm by stirring up cooler waters from the depths to the surface. Debby’s close proximity to land places a portion of its circulation over land, which will also tend to slow down intensification. Wind shear is expected to remain in the moderate range through Wednesday. I expect Debby will begin to build heavy thunderstorms near its core today and Tuesday, with the winds increasing again to 60 mph by Wednesday morning. The latest SHIPS model forecast gives Debby just a 4% chance of undergoing rapid intensification–a 30 mph increase of winds in 24 hours. The 8 am EDT NHC wind probability forecast is giving Debby a 19% chance of becoming a hurricane by early Wednesday morning. Steering currents for Debby are very weak, a the storm should hang out in its current location for several more days. The models continue to have a large spread in where they thing Debby might eventual make landfall, and the official NHC forecast may have large errors for its positions at the 3 – 5 day range.
Colorado’s 114°: hottest temperature in state history
The remarkable heat wave that affected Colorado on Saturday and Sunday has tied the all-time heat record for the state. According to wunderground’s weather historian Christopher C. Burt, Saturday’s 114° reading in Las Animas tied for the hottest temperature ever measured in the state of Colorado. Two other 114° readings have occurred in Colorado history: in Las Animas on July 1, 1933, and in Sedgwick on July 11, 1954.
Colorado Springs tied its all-time record for warmest temperature ever measured on both Saturday and Sunday, with readings of 100°. The city has hit 100° four other times, most recently on July 24, 2003. The record heat in Colorado Springs exacerbated a wildfire that grew to more than 3 square miles on Sunday, driving 11,000 residents (2% of the city’s population) out of their homes.
In Fort Collins, the mercury hit 102° on Sunday, just 1° below the city’s all-time hottest temperature of 103° set on Jul 21, 2005. The heat did no favors for firefighters struggling to the contain the massive 81,000 acre High Park fire fifteen miles northwest of Fort Collins. The fire is the second largest and most destructive wildfire in Colorado’s history, and is 45% contained.
La Junta, CO hit 110° on Sunday, tying its all-time hottest temperature record, set on June 28, 1990.
The heat wave extended into neighboring Kansas, where Hill City hit 114°, tying its all-time warmest June temperature. Tribune, Kansas hit 109°, tying its all-time hottest temperature. Goodland, Kansas hit 109°, its hottest June temperature on record.
Two more days of exceptional heat are predicted for Colorado and Kansas, with the forecast for Denver calling for a high of 101 – 104° on Monday. The city hit 102° on Sunday, just 3° below the hottest temperature ever recorded in Denver, the 105° readings on July 20, 2005 and August 8, 1878.
Last month, the global average temperature climbed to the second highest for May on record since 1880, according to U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) records.
Much of the world, including nearly all of Europe, Asia, northern Africa, most of North America and southern Greenland experienced above average May temperatures. In fact, last month wrapped up the warmest spring on record for the continental U.S., NOAA records show.
The global May record included the combined global land and ocean average surface temperatures for the month, which 1.19 degrees Fahrenheit (0.66 degrees Celsius) above the 20th-century average of 58.5 F (14.8 C). This record was beat only in 2010, when the global average was 1.24 F (0.69 C) above the 20th-century average.
The Northern Hemisphere saw its warmest May on record — 1.53 F, or 0.85 C above average — while the Southern Hemisphere’s May ranked ninth warmest among all Mays on record, at 0.85 F (0.47 C) above average.
Of course, it wasn’t unusually warm everywhere. Australia, Alaska and parts of the western U.S.-Canadian border were notably cooler than average.
Snow cover on the Northern Hemisphere was significantly below average in May, according to NOAA records.
Globally, this spring ranked as the fourth warmest. Meanwhile, May brought a slew of temperature records to the continental U.S. after an unusually warm spring and mild winter.
Because of natural fluctuations in weather, climate scientists are loath to connect events that occur over a short-time frame, from a strong storm to an unusual warm spring, to climate change. However, the warming effect of humans’ greenhouse gas emissions forms a backdrop for the weather the world is experiencing and shows up as a longer-term trend. It is not a coincidence that the first decade of this century was the warmest on record, according to NOAA’s State of Climate in 2010 report.