SUMMARY: Global warming is a theory with four components:
1. The Earth’s surface temperature is rising because of human activity, particularly industrial production and personal consumption;
2. Weather extremes we now experience are more destructive than in the past because of this warming effect;
3. If this trend is not stopped, the planet will soon be unable to sustain human life as we have known it; and
4. The solution is government management of all human activity, including the elimination of private property and personal freedom.
We reject the theory of anthropogenic (man-made) global warming for three reasons:
1. It is based on junk science and fraud. In other words, it does not exist. The driving force behind this theory comes from politicians, bureaucrats, and those employed by institutions that depend on government funding. All of these benfit from the alleged solution to the alledged problem.
2. The proposed solution requires crushing taxation, confiscation of private property, and denial of freedom-of-choice. This is contrary to The Creed of Freedom, paragraphs 3 and 4.
3. The threat of global warming is the bedrock foundation of almost all programs on behalf of totalitarioan government based on collectivism.
Exposing the Myths
Analysis by G. Edward Griffin
Leaders of the crusade against global-warming have no financial conflict-of-interest because they only care about the environment, but those who challenge their theories do so because they are paid by the fossil-fuel and nuclear-power industries.
ANALYSIS: There is no doubt that the rank-and-file, true believers in global-warming are motivated by a desire to protect the environment, but those at the top are not so naïve. They know that the specter of environmental disaster is a made-up horror story to frighten us into accepting crushing taxes and a global totalitarian system in the name of saving the planet. How do we know that? Because they say so.
Ottmar Edenhoffer, an official at the UN’s IPPC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) was a former co-chair if the IPCC Working Group III and lead author of the IPPC’s Fourth Assessment Report released in 2007. His report concluded:
One must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy. … One has to free one’s self from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy…. The climate summit in Cancun at the end of the month is not a climate conference, but one of the largest economic conferences since the Second World War.” (Story) (Cached) (Original in German)
For an eye-opening summary of the meaning of “green” in the environmental movement (it means money), see “Climate Policy as Political Entrepreneurship”, uploaded to the University of Utah website here. (Cached)
MYTH2. Temperatures have risen since 1998, and reports to the contrary are false.
ANALYSIS: One of the most troublesome facts challenging the theory of global warming is that, even according to UN sources and in spite of data manipulation, global temperatures have not risen since 1998. The dire predictions of increasing temperatures simply have not been validated by nature.
By 2014, this was damaging the credibility of the myth makers and causing skepticism in the public mind. Something had to be done to restore confidence in the global-warming narrative − and, with the Paris Climate Summit scheduled to begin in November of 2015, it had to be done fast in order to have an impact on the proceedings there.
In June of that year, an article appeared in Science magazine, written by a nine-man team at the Environmental Information office of the tax-funded National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This article was exactly what was needed. It said that the reported ‘pause’ or ‘slowdown’ in global warming was an error − and it had data and charts to prove it.
Because this article came with the imprimatur of NOAA, it well served the purposes of the Paris Conference. Afterward, however, it was learned that the article was politically inspired, and the authors had violated numerous principles of scientific inquiry. That was the conclusion of a former top scientist at NOAA itself, Dr John Bates who, in 2014, was awarded a gold medal by the Obama administration for his work in setting standards for producing and preserving climate data.
Bates said that all the scientific standards he had helped to establish at NOAA had been violated to produce a politically useful document at the Paris Climate Summit. The lead author of the article, Thomas Karl, had insisted on “decisions and scientific choices that maximized warming and minimized documentation … in an effort to discredit the notion of a global-warming pause, and rushed so that he could time publication to influence national and international deliberations on climate policy.”
Dr. Bates said that the NOAA team used fraudulent data, applied methods of analysis that overstated the speed of warming, relied on software that was known to be inaccurate, never submitted data for verification by others, and failed to archive the data, making it now impossible to examine. In other words, they lied and then destroyed the evidence.
MYTH3. Global warming is caused by pollution and weather-modification programs. Therefore, it IS man-made.
2016 Nov 18 from Nikeros
To Ed Griffin:
You don’t believe that Fukushima, nuclear testing, extensive military operations involving gawd knows what, fracking, aerosol spraying of aluminum, barium, strontium and gawd knows what else worldwide and on and on has no effect on the earths climate? Ok fine. I will say no more.
ANALYSIS: The anthropomorphic mantra of most global-warming proponents is that the “man-made” cause is CO2. Period. They claim that CO2 is the byproduct of industry and consumption and that it produces a “carbon footprint”. Therefore, they seek expanded government power and funding to reduce CO2. That’s the basis for all the carbon-tax and regulatory nonsense. None of these people are talking about taxing or regulating “Fukushima, nuclear testing, extensive military operations, fracking, aerosol spraying of aluminum, barium, strontium and gawd knows what else”. They talk only about CO2, the non-toxic greenhouse gas that does NOT cause global warming. The global-warming hoaxers are very good at lumping together pollution (which is real) and man-made global warming (which is not). They are countng on us to fall for the trick and fail to see that these are two entirely different issues.
Category 4 Chapala On Its Way to Yemen; Texas Gasping after More Record Rain
By: Bob Henson and Jeff Masters , 5:30 PM GMT on October 31, 2015
Figure 1. Tropical Cyclone Chapala as seen from the International Space Station at sunset on Halloween evening, October 31, 2015. At the time, Chapala was a Category 4 storm with 135 mph winds. The coast of Oman/Yemen is visible at the bottom of the image. Image credit: Commander Scott Kelly.
Figure 2. Tropical Cyclone Chapala as seen by the MODIS instrument on NASA’s Terra satellite on Saturday morning, October 31, 2015. At the time, Chapala was a Category 4 storm with 135 mph winds. Image credit: NASA.
The forecast for Chapala
The biggest change since Friday is a southward departure in Chapala’s track. The cyclone is now heading due west and should continue on that bearing for the next couple of days, with a slight curve to the west-northwest as it approaches Yemen on Monday night. Chapala’s healthy structure may keep dry air at bay for some time, but eventually the cyclone should weaken as it near the Arabian Peninsula and ingests greater amounts of parched desert air. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center brings Chapala onshore in the high tropical-storm-strength range, with sustained winds possibly close to hurricane strength.
Figure 3. Three tropical cyclones are known to have made landfall on the southern coast of Oman and Yemen betwen 1891 and the beginning of modern satellite records (1990). Two of these reached northeast Yemen, in May 1959 and May 1960. Both were rated as “severe cyclonic storms” prior to landfall (solid line), meaning their top 3-minute average wind speeds were at least 48 knots (55 mph). Image credit: Courtesy Dr. Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, Head, Cyclone Warning Division and Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre, India Meteorological Department.
According to NOAA’s Historical Hurricanes tool, there have only been six major Category 3 or stronger tropical cyclones recorded in the Arabian Sea (though accurate satellite records go back to just 1990.) The Arabian Sea doesn’t get many tropical cyclones since it is small; furthermore, the Southwest Monsoon keeps the tropical cyclone season short, with a short season that lasts from May to early June before the monsoon arrives, then another short season in late October through November after the monsoon has departed. Strong Arabian Sea storms are rare due to high wind shear and copious dry air from the deserts of the Middle East, with just two Category 4 or 5 storms ever recorded–Gonu in 2007 and Phet in 2010. Both cyclones hit Oman after weakening below Category 4 strength.
Landfalling cyclones are even more rare in Yemen. The only one in the post-1990 satellite database is Tropical Depression Three of 2008 (also known as the 2008 Yemen Cyclone), which came on the heels of heavy rains from another storm and resulted in disastrous flooding. According to EM-DAT, the international disaster database, that storm killed 90 people and did $400 million in damage, making it the second worst natural disaster in Yemen’s history, behind a June 13, 1996 flood (thanks go to wunderground member TropicalAnalystwx13 for alerting us to this fact.) The India Meteorological Department maintains a database of tropical cyclones in the region going back to 1891 that shows two cyclonic storms reaching the Yemen coast in 1960 and 1961 (see Figure 3).
Chapala’s southward track will make it only the second tropical cyclone recorded near the mouth of the Gulf of Aden, which is crossed by roughly 400 ships a week. The adjustment in Chapala’s track could have major implications for Yemen, as it brings the center closer to the 980-year-old settlement of Al Mukalla (also known as Mukalla), a busy port and Yemen’s fifth-largest city (population around 300,000). If Chapala were to pass just south of Al Mukalla, the sharp angle of approach to the coast would accentuate any storm surge. Yemen has been in the grip of a civil war since March, so any landfall near this populated area could intersect with the conflict in hard-to-predict ways. According to an October 30 article from Reuters, ten of Yemen’s 22 governorates were assessed as being in an emergency food situation in June, one step below famine on a five-point scale. The assessment has not been updated since then, partly because experts have not managed to get sufficient access to survey the situation. About a third of the country’s population, or 7.6 million people urgently require food aid, the The U.N. World Food Programme said (thanks go to wunderground member barbamz for alerting us to this article.)
As it moves ashore, Chapala will slam into steep mountains near the coast, boosting its potential to dump several years’ worth of rain in just a day or two (see Figure 6). The annual average rainfall in Yemen is less than 2” along the immediate coast and less than 5” inland, except along higher terrain, where it can approach 10”. Any landfall near Al Mukalla could result in serious urban flooding (the city straddles a canal that extends to the coast from the adjacent mountainsides).
Figure 6. The 5-day rainfall forecast from the 2 am EDT Saturday, October 31, 2015 run of the HWRF model called for some truly stunning rainfall amounts in the parched desert regions of eastern Yemen: over two feet! Image credit: NOAA/EMC.
Rain-weary Texans deal with another deluge
Yet another round of epic downpours struck the heart of Texas from Friday into Saturday. The focus on Friday morning was the HIll Country and the adjacent San Antonio and Austin metro areas, which suffered through record rain and destructive flooding back in May. The air traffic control center at Austin’s Bergstrom International Airport has been shut down after being inundated with six inches of water on Friday. A Houston center is handling its duties until a temporary facility arrives on Monday. Bergstrom received 5.76” of rain in just one hour, as part of a phenomenal calendar-day total of 14.99” on Friday. That’s more than the site had ever recorded in any prior 14-day period! (Records at Bergstrom go back to 1942. Thanks to Nick Wiltgen at weather.com for this statistic.). The total also came within a hair (0.067%) of reaching the city’s all-time 24-hour record of 15.00”, set at Camp Mabry on September 9, 1921, in association with a Category 1 hurricane that caused severe flooding in the San Antonio area. Further south, Brownsville had its second wettest October day in 128 years of recordkeeping, with 6.55” on Friday beaten only by 9.09” on October 4, 1996, in association with Tropical Storm Josephine. The absence of a tropical cyclone makes this event across central and south Texas all the more remarkable.
Figure 7. Jim Richardson and his wife Jeannette look on as the Blanco River recedes after the flash flood in Wimberly, Texas Friday, Oct. 30, 2015. A fast-moving storm packing heavy rain and destructive winds overwhelmed rivers and prompted evacuations Friday in the same area of Central Texas that saw devastating spring floods. Image credit: Ricardo Brazziell/Austin American-Statesman via AP.
A subsequent round of heavy thunderstorms moved into southeast Texas overnight and into Saturday morning, causing widespread flooding in the Houston area, as well as scattered wind damage perhaps associated with one or more tornadoes. With light rain hanging on at noon CDT Saturday, Houston’s Hobby Airport had received 6.50” for the day, bringing its monthly total to 14.24”. Hobby will fall short of the Houston area’s wettest October on record, 17.64” in 1949, a total largely goosed by a Category 2 hurricane early that month. The front edge of this sprawling area of heavy thunderstorms is now approaching southeast Louisiana, which has also been hammered by heavy rain in October. Baton Rouge had received 10.85” for the month as of Friday, and New Orleans 8.88”. NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center is calling for as much as 5-6” of rain over the area today into Sunday. Baton Rouge has an outside chance of scoring its wettest October on record (17.64”, from 1949; records go back to 1889), as does the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (13.20” in 1985, in association with Hurricane Juan; records go back to 1946).
Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport racked up another 2.25” from Friday through 11:00 am CDT Saturday. The airport has now recorded 48.92” for the year, making 2015 the sixth wettest year since DFW-area records began in 1898. One of the most reliable U.S. impacts from El Niño is increased cold-season rainfall from Texas to Florida. Given the strong El Niño influence already at hand, DFW has a good chance over the next two months of topping 53.54” (1991) to score its wettest year on record. In fact, it could happen quite soon: WPC is projecting 2” to 5” of rain across central North Texas late next week, as another strong Pacific upper-level storm carves its way into the western U.S. That storm will give the Pacific Northwest a seasonally heavy drenching this weekend, and it may leave the first significant accumulation of the season along the snow-starved Sierra Nevada on Monday and Tuesday–perhaps as much as a foot on the highest peaks. A winter storm watch has been hoisted for the region, but we’re guessing most residents will be elated rather than spooked by this October 31 development. Have a great Halloween weekend, everyone!
August 2013 was the globe’s 4th warmest August since records began in 1880, according to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). NASA rated it the 5th warmest August on record. The year-to-date period of January – August has been the 6th warmest such period on record. August 2013 global land temperatures were the 11th warmest on record, and global ocean temperatures were the 5th warmest on record. August 2013 was the 342nd consecutive month with global temperatures warmer than the 20th century average. Global satellite-measured temperatures in August 2013 for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere were 14th or 11th warmest in the 35-year record, according to Remote Sensing Systems and the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH), respectively. Wunderground’s weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, has a comprehensive post on the notable weather events of August 2013 in his August 2013 Global Weather Extremes Summary. The big stories that he highlights are the intense heat waves that hit Central Europe and East Asia, which brought all-time national heat records to Austria, Slovenia, and Japan. Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, passed its all-time heat record a remarkable five times during the month.
Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average for August 2013, the 4th warmest August for the globe since record keeping began in 1880. Most of the world’s land areas experienced warmer-than-average monthly temperatures, including Australia, northern South America, western North America, Europe, and much of eastern Asia. Far eastern China, part of eastern Russia north of Japan, and part of northeastern South America were record warm for the month. The southeastern United States, Far East Russia, part of South Africa, Paraguay, and Bolivia were cooler than average. No regions of the globe were record cold. Image credit: National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) .
The six billion-dollar weather disasters of August 2013
Disaster 1. The most damaging billion-dollar weather disaster of August was in Northeast China, where the Nei River overflowed, killing 54 and leaving 97 missing in Fushuan. The flooding killed 118 people and cost $5 billion. In this photo, workers use an excavator to clean up mud after heavy rain hit on August 19, 2013 in Fushuan, in the Liaoning Province of China. Photo by ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images.
Disaster 2. Super Typhoon Utor killed 70 people in China and did $2.6 billion in damage. Utor also did $33 million in damage in the Philippines. This video taken by storm chaser James Reynolds shows debris flying as Typhoon Utor hits Zhapo, China on 14th August 2013.
Disaster 3. Torrential rains, due, in part, to moisture from Typhoon Trami, fell in the Philippines August 18 – 21, causing massive flooding on Luzon Island that cost $2.2 billion. Twenty-seven people were killed, and 60% of metro Manila was under water at the peak of the flood. According to EM-DAT, the International Disaster Database, this was the most expensive natural disaster in Philippine history. In this photo, pedicabs and makeshift rafts ferry office workers and pedestrians through flood waters that submerged parts of the financial district of Makati on August 20, 2013 in Makati City south of Manila, Philippines. Image credit: Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)
Disaster 4. In Pakistan, torrential monsoon rains caused significant flooding that affected 5,739 villages. At least 208 people were killed, 63,180 homes were damaged or destroyed, and 1.4 million acres (567,000 hectares) of crops were submerged. The government estimated economic agricultural losses alone at $1.9 billion. Pakistan’s four most expensive weather-related disasters in its history have been floods that occurred in the past four consecutive years. In this photo, Pakistani residents hold onto a rope as they evacuate a flooded area in Karachi on August 4, 2013. Image credit: Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images)
Figure 5. Russia experienced its costliest flood disaster in history beginning on August 4, when the Amur and Zeya rivers in the far east of the country along the Chinese border overflowed, flooding 1.7 million acres, damaging or destroying over 11,500 buildings. It was the 4th most expensive natural disaster of any kind in Russian history. These false-color infrared satellite images of Russia’s Amur River taken a little over a year apart show the extent of the extreme flooding that affected the Komsomolsk-on-Amur area (population 500,000) in August 2013. Image credit: NASA.
Disaster 6. A severe weather outbreak in the U.S. Plains and Midwest August 5 – 7 brought baseball sized hail and thunderstorm wind gusts over 80 mph to Minnesota and Wisconsin. Two people were killed, and damage was estimated at $1 billion. In this photo, a severe thunderstorm closes in on Edgemont, South Dakota, on August 7, 2013. Image credit: wunderphotographer ninjalynn.
The world-wide tally of billion-dollar weather disasters so far in 2013 is 25, and the U.S. total is six, according to the August 2013 Catastrophe Report from insurance broker Aon Benfield. This excludes the September Colorado flood, whose damages are preliminarily estimated at $2 billion. Ranked in term of cost, here are the 25 disasters:
Neutral El Niño conditions continue in the equatorial Pacific
For the 17th month in row, neutral El Niño conditions existed in the equatorial Pacific during August 2013. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) expects neutral El Niño conditions to last though the winter of 2013 – 2014, and the large majority of the El Niño models also predict that neutral conditions will last through the winter. Temperatures in the equatorial Eastern Pacific need to be 0.5°C below average or cooler for three consecutive months for a La Niña episode to be declared; sea surface temperatures were 0.0°C from average as of September 16, and have been +0.1 to -0.4°C from average since April 1, 2013.
Arctic sea ice falls to 6th lowest August extent on record
Arctic sea ice extent during August was 6th lowest in the 35-year satellite record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). This was the largest August extent since 2009, and a nice change of pace from last year’s all-time record retreat. The Arctic sea ice reached its minimum extent for the year on September 13, and has now begun re-freezing. I’ll have a dedicated post on this, probably on Tuesday.
Quiet in the Atlantic
In the Gulf of Mexico, the tail end of a cold front off the coast of Texas has developed a few disorganized heavy thunderstorms. This disturbance has some modest spin to it, thanks to absorbing Invest 95L on Saturday. However, wind shear is high, 20 – 30 knots, and I don’t expect this disturbance will develop. The disturbance is expected to bring 1 – 3″ of rain to Florida later this week, and on Saturday, the Army Corps of Engineers has re-opened the flood gates on Lake Okeechobee to dump water out of the lake in anticipation of the heavy rains. None the reliable models for tropical cyclone formation is predicting development during the coming five days.
In the Western Pacific, Typhoon Usagi has dissipated after hitting China about 100 miles east-northeast of Hong Kong. The storm is being blamed for at least 25 deaths in China and 2 in the Philippines. Preliminary damage estimates are over $500 million.
In 2011, a series of violent severe storms swept across the Plains and Southeast U.S., bringing an astonishing six billion-dollar disasters in a three-month period. The epic tornado onslaught killed 552 people, caused $25 billion in damage, and brought three of the five largest tornado outbreaks since record keeping began in 1950. In May 2011, the Joplin, Missouri tornado did $3 billion in damage–the most expensive tornado in world history–and killed 158 people, the largest death toll from a U.S. tornado since 1947. An astounding 1050 EF-1 and stronger tornadoes ripped though the U.S. for the one-year period ending that month. This was the greatest 12-month total for these stronger tornadoes in the historical record, and an event so rare that we might expect it to occur only once every 62,500 years. Fast forward now to May 2012 – April 2013. Top-ten coldest temperatures on record across the Midwest during March and April of 2013, coming after a summer of near-record heat and drought in 2012, brought about a remarkable reversal in our tornado tally–the lowest 12-month total of EF-1 and stronger tornadoes on record–just 197. This was an event so rare we might expect it to occur only once every 3,000 – 4,000 years. And now, in May 2013, after another shattering EF-5 tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, residents of the Midwest must be wondering, are we back to the 2011 pattern? Which of these extremes is climate change most likely to bring about? Is climate change already affecting these storms? These are hugely important questions, but ones we don’t have good answers for. Climate change is significantly impacting the environment that storms form in, giving them more moisture and energy to draw upon, and altering large-scale jet stream patterns. We should expect that this will potentially cause major changes in tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. Unfortunately, tornadoes and severe thunderstorms are the extreme weather phenomena we have the least understanding on with respect to climate change. We don’t have a good enough database to determine how tornadoes may have changed in recent decades, and our computer models are currently not able to tell us if tornadoes are more likely to increase or decrease in a future warmer climate.
Video 1. Remarkable video of the tornado that hit Tuscaloosa, Alabama on April 27, 2011, part of the largest and most expensive tornado outbreak in U.S. history–the $10.2 billion dollar Southeast U.S. Super Outbreak of April 25 – 28, 2011. With damage estimated at $2.2 billion, the Tuscaloosa tornado was the 2nd most expensive tornado in world history, behind the 2011 Joplin, Missouri tornado. Fast forward to minute four to see the worst of the storm.
Figure 1. Will climate change increase the incidence of these sorts of frightening radar images? Multiple hook echoes from at least ten supercell thunderstorms cover Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee in this radar image taken during the height of the April 27, 2011 Super Outbreak, the largest and most expensive tornado outbreak in U.S. history. A multi-hour animation is available here.
Changes in past tornado activity difficult to assess due to a poor database
It’s tough to tell if tornadoes may have changed due to a changing climate, since the tornado database is of poor quality for climate research. We cannot measure the wind speeds of a tornado directly, except in very rare cases when researchers happen to be present with sophisticated research equipment. A tornado has to run over a building and cause damage before an intensity rating can be assigned. The National Weather Service did not begin doing systematic tornado damage surveys until 1976, so all tornadoes from 1950 – 1975 were assigned a rating on the Fujita Scale (F-scale) based on old newspaper accounts and photos. An improved Enhanced Fujita (EF) scale to rate tornadoes was adopted in 2007. The transition to the new EF scale still allows valid comparisons of tornadoes rated, for example, EF-5 on the new scale and F5 on the old scale, but does create some problems for tornado researchers studying long-term changes in tornado activity. More problematic is the major changes in the Fujita-scale rating process that occurred in the mid-1970s (when damage surveys began), and again in 2001, when scientists began rating tornadoes lower because of engineering concerns and unintended consequences of National Weather Service policy changes. According to Brooks (2013), “Tornadoes in the early part of the official National Weather Service record (1950 – approximately 1975) are rated with higher ratings than the 1975 – 2000 period, which, in turn, had higher ratings than 2001 – 2007.” All of these factors cause considerable uncertainty when attempting to assess if tornadoes are changing over time. At a first glance, it appears that tornado frequency has increased in recent decades (Figure 2). However, this increase may be entirely caused by factors unrelated to climate change:
1) Population growth has resulted in more tornadoes being reported. Heightened awareness of tornadoes has also helped; the 1996 Hollywood blockbuster movie Twister “played no small part” in a boom in reported tornadoes, according to tornado scientist Dr. Nikolai Dotzek.
2) Advances in weather radar, particularly the deployment of about 100 Doppler radars across the U.S. in the mid-1990s, has resulted in a much higher tornado detection rate.
3) Tornado damage surveys have grown more sophisticated over the years. For example, we now commonly classify multiple tornadoes along a damage path that might have been attributed to just one twister in the past.
Figure 2. The total number of U.S. tornadoes since 1950 has shown a substantial increase. Image credit: NOAA/NCDC.
Figure 3. The number of EF-0 (blue line) and EF-1 and stronger tornadoes (maroon squares) reported in the U.S. since 1950. The rise in number of tornadoes in recent decades is seen to be primarily in the weakest EF-0 twisters. As far as we can tell (which isn’t very well, since the historical database of tornadoes is of poor quality), there is not a decades-long increasing trend in the numbers of tornadoes stronger than EF-0. Since these stronger tornadoes are the ones most likely to be detected, this implies that climate change, as yet, is not having a noticeable impact on U.S. tornadoes. Image credit: Kunkel, Kenneth E., et al., 2013, “Monitoring and Understanding Trends in Extreme Storms: State of Knowledge,” Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 94, 499–514, doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-11-00262.1
Figure 4. Insured damage losses in the U.S. due to thunderstorms and tornadoes, as compiled by Munich Re. Damages have increased sharply in the past decade, but not enough to say that an increase in tornadoes and severe thunderstorms may be to blame.
Stronger tornadoes do not appear to be increasing
Tornadoes stronger than EF-0 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale (or F0 on the pre-2007 Fujita Scale) are more likely to get counted, since they tend to cause significant damage along a long track. Thus, the climatology of these tornadoes may offer a clue as to how climate change may be affecting severe weather. If the number of strong tornadoes has actually remained constant over the years, we should expect to see some increase in these twisters over the decades, since more buildings have been erected in the paths of tornadoes. However, if we look at the statistics of U.S. tornadoes stronger than EF-0 or F-0 since 1950, there does not appear to be any increase in their number (Figure 3.) Damages from thunderstorms and tornadoes have shown a significant increase in recent decades (Figure 4), but looking at damages is a poor way to determine if climate change is affecting severe weather, since there are so many human factors involved. A study in Environmental Hazards (Simmons et al., 2012) found no increase in tornado damages from 1950 – 2011, after normalizing the data for increases in wealth and property. Also, Bouwer (BAMS, 2010) reviewed 22 disaster loss studies world-wide, published 2001 – 2010; in all 22 studies, increases in wealth and population were the “most important drivers for growing disaster losses.” His conclusion: human-caused climate change “so far has not had a significant impact on losses from natural disasters.” Studies that normalize disaster data are prone to error, as revealed by a 2012 study looking at storm surge heights and damages. Given the high amount of uncertainty in the tornado and tornado damage databases, the conclusion of the “official word” on climate science, the 2007 United Nations IPCC report, pretty much sums things up: “There is insufficient evidence to determine whether trends exist in small scale phenomena such as tornadoes, hail, lighting, and dust storms.” Until a technology is developed that can reliably detect all tornadoes, there is no hope of determining how tornadoes might be changing in response to a changing climate. According to Doswell (2007): “I see no near-term solution to the problem of detecting detailed spatial and temporal trends in the occurrence of tornadoes by using the observed data in its current form or in any form likely to evolve in the near future.”
Figure 6. Six-hourly periods per year with environments supportive of significant severe thunderstorms in the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains. The line is a local least-squares regression fit to the series, and shows no significant change in environments supportive of significant severe thunderstorms in recent decades. Image credit: Brooks, H.E., and N. Dotek, 2008, “The spatial distribution of severe convective storms and an analysis of their secular changes”, Climate Extremes and Society
How are the background conditions that spawn tornadoes changing?
An alternate technique to study how climate change may be affecting tornadoes is look at how the large-scale environmental conditions favorable for tornado formation have changed through time. Moisture, instability, lift, and wind shear are needed for tornadic thunderstorms to form. The exact mix required varies considerably depending upon the situation, and is not well understood. However, Brooks (2003) attempted to develop a climatology of weather conditions conducive for tornado formation by looking at atmospheric instability (as measured by the Convective Available Potential Energy, or CAPE), and the amount of wind shear between the surface and 6 km altitude. High values of CAPE and surface to 6 km wind shear are conducive to formation of tornadic thunderstorms. The regions they analyzed with high CAPE and high shear for the period 1997-1999 did correspond pretty well with regions where significant (F2 and stronger) tornadoes occurred. Riemann-Campe et al. (2009) found that globally, CAPE increased significantly between 1958 – 2001. However, little change in CAPE was found over the Central and Eastern U.S. during spring and summer during the most recent period they studied, 1979 – 2001. Brooks (2013) found no significant trends in wind shear over the U.S. from 1950 – 2010 (Figure 5.) A preliminary report issued by NOAA’s Climate Attribution Rapid Response Team in July 2011 found no trends in CAPE or wind shear over the lower Mississippi Valley over the past 30 years.
Figure 7. Change in the number of days per year with a high severe thunderstorm potential as predicted by the climate model (A2 scenario) of Trapp et al. 2007, due to predicted changes in wind shear and Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE). Most of the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains is expected to see 1 – 2 additional days per year with the potential for severe thunderstorms. The greatest increase in potential severe thunderstorm days (three) is expected along the North and South Carolina coast. Image credit: NASA.
How will tornadoes and severe thunderstorms change in the future?
Using a high-resolution regional climate model (25 km grid size) zoomed in on the U.S., Trapp et al. (2007) and Trapp et al. (2009) found that the decrease in 0-6 km wind shear in the late 21st century would more than be made up for by an increase in instability (CAPE). Their model predicted an increase in the number of days with high severe storm potential for most of the U.S. by the end of the 21st century, particularly for locations east of the Rocky Mountains (Figure 7.) Brooks (2013) also found that severe thunderstorms would likely increase over the U.S. by the end of the century, but theorized that the severe thunderstorms of the future might have a higher proportion causing straight-line wind damage, and slightly lower proportion spawning tornadoes and large hail. For example, a plausible typical future severe thunderstorm day many decades from now might have wind shear lower by 1 m/s, but a 2 m/s increase in maximum thunderstorm updraft speed. This might cause a 5% reduction in the fraction of severe thunderstorms spawning tornadoes, but a 5% increase in the fraction of severe thunderstorms with damaging straight-line winds. He comments: “However, if the number of overall favorable environments increases, there may be little change, if any, in the number of tornadoes or hailstorms in the US, even if the relative fraction decreases. The signals in the climate models and our physical understanding of the details of storm-scale processes are sufficiently limited to make it extremely hazardous to make predictions of large changes or to focus on small regions. Projected changes would be well within error estimates.”
Figure 8. From 1995 (the first year we have wind death data) through 2012, deaths from high winds associated with severe thunderstorms accounted for 8% of all U.S. weather fatalities, while tornadoes accounted for 13%. Data from NOAA.
Severe thunderstorms are capable of killing more people than tornadoes
If the future climate does cause fewer tornadoes but more severe thunderstorms, this may not end up reducing the overall deaths and damages from these dangerous weather phenomena. In 2012, the warmest year in U.S. history, the death toll from severe thunderstorms hit 104–higher than the 70 people killed by tornadoes that year. Severe thunderstorms occur preferentially during the hottest months of the year, June July and August, and are energized by record heat. For example, wunderground weather historian Christopher C. Burt called the number of all-time heat records set on June 29, 2012 “especially extraordinary,” and on that day, an organized thunderstorm complex called a derecho swept across a 700-mile swath of the Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic, killing thirteen people and causing more than $1 billion in damage. The amount of energy available to the derecho was extreme, due to the record heat. The derecho knocked out power to 4 million people for up to a week, in areas where the record heat wave was causing high heat stress. Heat claimed 34 lives in areas without power in the week following the derecho. Excessive heat has been the number one cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S since 1995, killing more than twice as many people as tornadoes have. Climate models are not detailed enough to predict how organized severe thunderstorm events such as derechos might change in a future warmer climate. But a warmer atmosphere certainly contributed to the intensity of the 2012 derecho, and we will be seeing a lot more summers like 2012 in coming decades. A future with sharply increased damages and deaths due to more intense severe thunderstorms and derechos is one nasty climate change surprise that may lurk ahead.
Figure 9. Lightning over Tucson, Arizona on August 14, 2012. A modeling study by Del Genio et al.(2007) predicts that lighting will increase by 6% by the end of the century, potentially leading to an increase in lightning-triggered wildfires. Image credit: wunderphotographer ChandlerMike.
Lightning may increase in a warmer climate
Del Genio et al.(2007) used a climate model with doubled CO2 to show that a warming climate would make the atmosphere more unstable (higher CAPE) and thus prone to more severe weather. However, decreases in wind shear offset this effect, resulting in little change in the amount of severe weather in the Central and Eastern U.S. late this century. However, they found that there would likely be an increase in the very strongest thunderstorms. The speed of updrafts in thunderstorms over land increased by about 1 m/s in their simulation, since upward moving air needed to travel 50 – 70 mb higher to reach the freezing level, resulting in stronger thunderstorms. In the Western U.S., the simulation showed that drying led lead to fewer thunderstorms overall, but the strongest thunderstorms increased in number by 26%, leading to a 6% increase in the total amount of lighting hitting the ground each year. If these results are correct, we might expect more lightning-caused fires in the Western U.S. late this century, due to increased drying and more lightning. Only 12% of U.S. wildfires are ignited by natural causes, but these account for 52% of the acres burned (U.S. Fire Administration, 2000). So, even a small change in lightning flash rate has important consequences. Lightning is also a major killer, as an average of 52 people per year were killed by lightning strikes over the 30-year period ending in 2012, accounting for 6% of all U.S. weather-related fatalities.
We currently do not know how tornadoes and severe thunderstorms may be changing due to climate change, nor is there hope that we will be able to do so in the foreseeable future. It does not appear that there has been an increase in U.S. tornadoes stronger than EF-0 in recent decades, but climate change appears to be causing more extreme years–both high and low–of late. Tornado researcher Dr. Harold Brooks of the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Oklahoma said in a 2013 interview on Andrew Revkin’s New York Times dotearth blog: “there’s evidence to suggest that we have seen an increase in the variability of tornado occurrence in the U.S.” Preliminary research using climate models suggests that we may see an increase in the number of severe thunderstorms capable of producing tornadoes over the U.S. late this century, but these thunderstorms will be more likely to produce damaging straight-line winds, and less likely to produce tornadoes and large hail. This will not necessarily result in a reduction in deaths and damages, though, since severe thunderstorms can be just as dangerous and deadly as tornadoes–especially when they knock out power to areas suffering high-stress heat waves. Research into climate change impacts on severe weather is just beginning, and much more study is needed.
Abundant moisture from heavy rains and snows that fell during two major Midwest storms in late February put only a slight dent in the great Midwest drought of 2012 – 2013. According to the February 28, 2013 Drought Monitor, the percentage area of the contiguous U.S. suffering moderate or greater drought shrank from 56% to 54%, and the area in the worst category of drought–exceptional drought–fell from 6.7% to 5.4% over the past week. These are the largest 1-week improvements in these drought categories that we’ve seen for 9 months and 15 months, respectively. The improvements were most noteworthy in Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle, and the Southeast U.S., where drought improved by a full category (using the level 1 to 4 categories of the Palmer Drought Severity Index.) However, the dry pattern that has been dominant over the U.S. for most of the past year will re-assert itself during the coming ten days, and most of the drought region will receive less than 0.5″ of precipitation through March 9. There exists the possibility of a significant Midwest storm on March 10, according to recent runs of the GFS and ECMWF computer models, but it is too early to assess if this storm may be able to provide significant drought relief. In general, droughts are more likely in the Midwest U.S. when warmer than average ocean temperatures prevail in the tropical Atlantic, with cooler than average ocean temperatures in the tropical Eastern Pacific (La Niña-like conditions.) This is what we had in during most of 2012, and continue to have in 2013. Equatorial East Pacific ocean temperatures are currently 0.5°C below average. This is similar to the ocean temperatures seen in the spring of 2012, just before the Great Drought of 2012 began. Most of the U.S. drought region needs 3 – 9″ of precipitation to pull out of drought. Unless the Midwest receives a top-ten percent wettest spring on record, drought is going to be a huge concern as we enter summer.
Figure 1. Drought conditions as of February 28, 2013 showed that drought still gripped a majority of the U.S. Image credit: U.S. Drought Monitor.
Figure 2. Predicted 7-day precipitation for the period ending Thursday, March 7. Less than 10% of the U.S. drought regions are predicted to receive as much as 0.5″ of precipitation (dark green color.) Image credit: NOAA/HPC.
Snow in Mexico and Southwest Texas, Record Heat in Australia
El Paso, Texas picked up 3.0” of snow (officially at the NWS office) on Thursday and Friday this week and heavy snow fell in the city of Chihuahua, Mexico about 200 miles south of El Paso. How unusual is this?
The answer is that it is not unusual to see snowfall in Chihuahua (or El Paso). The city of Chihuahua (pop. 840,000) rests at an altitude of 4,600’ (1,400 meters) and is one of Mexico’s coldest cities during the winter. About 2” of snow fell there on Thursday and the temperature fell to 32°F (0°C) during the duration of the snowfall between 2p.m.-6p.m. On average Chihuahua can expect one or two days of measureable snow every winter. It’s greatest snowfall on record is apparently 40 cm (about 16”) at some undisclosed date in the past.
A deep snow (about 6-8”) blanketed Chihuahua, Mexico on Christmas Eve, 2004. Such events are not as uncommon as one might suppose. Photographer unknown.
Mexico’s coldest temperature on record was also recorded in the Chihuahua State at the village of Valerio when a reading of -28.5°C (-19.3°F) was measured on January 30, 1949.
A map shows Mexico’s absolute minimum temperatures for the POR of 1941-1977 in C°. Note the large area of below zero F° (-18°C or lower) isotherms that reach far south of the border and into the Chihuahua region. The map has an apparent error so far as the -14°C isothermal line is concerned. Map from the Mexican Meteorlogical Department.
El Paso, Texas normally sees a few snowfalls every winter as well, even though it is a bit lower than Chihuahua at 3,700’ (1,140 m) but, of course, much further north. El Paso’s greatest snowfall on record was 22.4” on December 13-15, 1987 (about the same as Chicago’s record!) of which 16.8” fell in one 24-hour period. During the great cold wave of January 1962 the temperature fell to an all-time record low of -8°F (-22.2°C) on January 11th.
Some elevated suburbs of El Paso received as much as 8” from the recent storm. Ironically, the official 3” at the NWS office means that the city has now had three times more snowfall this season than Chicago, which continues its record-breaking streak of snowless weather.
Hot in Australia
All-time record highs were broken at several Australian sites in Western Australia. Red Rocks Point topped the list off with a 48.6°C (119.5°F) reading on January 3rd. Eucla, which sits right on the coast of the Great Australian Bight, measured a record 48.2°C (118.8°F). Perth had its hottest New Year’s Eve on record (and 3rd warmest December day) when the heat peaked at 42.1°C (107.8°F) on December 31st. Temperatures are forecast to exceed 45°C (113°F) today (January 4th) in portions of South Australia and New South Wales. Australia’s hottest temperature on record is 50.7°C (123.3°F) at Oodnadatta, South Australia on January 2, 1960.
Hobart, Tasmania broke its all-time heat record on Friday with a 41.8°C (107.2°F) reading. The previous record was 40.8°C (105.4°F) set in January 1976. The POR for this site in Hobart is 126 years old.
A wild fire swept through the town of Dunalley in southeast Tasmania briefly heating the weather site’s thermometer to 59.9°C (140°F) at one point Friday afternoon (at 4:22 p.m.). Winds were gusting to 82 km/h at the time.
KUDOS:Howard Rainford for Australian temperatures.
There is never a dull month when it comes to extreme weather and August 2012 was no exception. The month began with a massive flood in Manila, Philippines and an intense heat wave in the south-central U.S. Two very sharp heat waves affected much of Europe during the 2nd and 3rd weeks of the month smashing records from Spain to Poland and the Ukraine. Typhoons walloped coastal sections of China and Hurricane Isaac thrashed the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Below is a summary some of the month’s highlights.
An intense heat wave in the southern plains exacerbated the on-going drought conditions and the temperature at Oklahoma City reached 113°F (45°C), the warmest temperature ever measured in the city. By mid-August, however, a very cool air mass invaded most of the central portion of the country and temperatures even fell to freezing at a few locations in Minnesota and Wisconsin. In spite, of the mid-month cool down some sites have ended up enduring their hottest summer on record. Denver, Colorado has averaged 76.3° for its climatological summer (June-August) beating its former warmest summer of 1954 by a full 2°F (old record was 74.3°F). The warmest temperature in the world during August was 126°F (52.2°C) measured at Death Valley, California on August 9th.
Sub-tropical moisture brought intense rainfall to portions of the desert southwest on August 22nd. Las Vegas, Nevada recorded its 2nd wettest calendar day on record with 1.68” that caused flash flooding resulting in one drowning death in the city. (Mesquite, near Las Vegas, picked up 2.04”, its greatest 24-hour rainfall on record/since 1992). Some other desert locations measured over 4” of rain in just a few hours (4.03” at Mid Hills RAWS in San Bernardino County, California—about what this site might expect in an entire year). One site in Nevada’s Mohave County, Wikieup, received 1.42” of rain in just 30 minutes. Ironically, Seattle, Washington (normally perceived as wetter than Las Vegas!) received no measureable precipitation during the entire month of August, and of this writing, is approaching its record of 51 rain-free days set in 1951 (last rainfall this summer was on July 22nd).
Hurricane Isaac made landfall in Louisiana on August 27 as a CAT 1 storm although its large size, strong storm surge (as high as 13’,) and central pressure (as low as 966mb) was more indicative of a strong CAT 2 cyclone. Seven storm-related deaths were reported mostly associated with the 15-20” rainfalls that fell along the path of the slow moving storm. The damage (at least US$2 billion) caused by Isaac is still under review as of this writing.
Flooding reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina ravaged some New Orleans-area neighborhoods like Plaquemines Parish southeast of the city. Ironically, Isaac struck virtually on the 7th anniversary of Katrina. Photo by Carolyn Cole, Los Angeles Times).
Hurricane Ernesto struck the western coast of Mexico on August 9th resulting in the deaths of two.
The Arctic measured its lowest sea ice extent since observations began in 1975. By August 26th the ice extent had shrunk to 1.58 million square miles, about 277,000 square miles less than the previous record low set in September 2007.
The coldest temperature measured in the northern hemisphere during August was -36.1°C (-33.0°F) at Summit AWS, Greenland on August 30th.
SOUTH AMERICA and CENTRAL AMERICA
Tartagal, Argentina recorded a temperature of 38.8°C (101.8°F) on August 22nd a record for the month at that location.
Europe experienced its most intense heat wave since the famous heat wave of 2003 and, in fact, many locations measured even higher temperatures than that occasion. All-time national heat records were set in the Czech Republic (40.4°C/104.7°F at Dobrichovice on August 20th), Moldova (42.4°C/108.3°F at Falesti on August 7th), and Montenegro (44.8°C/112.6°F at Danilovgrad on August 8th). In the Pyrenees along the French and Spanish border virtually every site recorded its warmest temperature on record. For more details on the European heat waves of August see my previous blog on the subject. Wild fires have raged out of control in both Spain and Greece with several fatalities reported from the Spanish resort area around Marbella.
August weather extremes for the United Kingdom are not yet available.
An intense wild fire threatens a beach resort on the island of Chios in the Greek archipelago on August 18th. Photo from EPA archives.
Monsoonal rains resulted in deadly floods in Nigeria and Cameroon during the month. At least 14 flood-related deaths were reported in Cameroon’s north region and at least 15 in Nigeria’s central provinces.
On August 25th and 26th the temperature peaked at 42.5°C (108.5°F) at Mtunzini, South Africa. This was not only a winter record for South Africa but also close to the warmest temperature ever measured in the southern hemisphere during the winter months (44°C has been recorded at Villamontes, Bolivia during previous Augusts). Needless to say, this was the warmest temperature measured in the southern hemisphere during this past August.
Although this years summer monsoons have failed to materialize in much of South Asia, heavy rains in the mountains of northern Pakistan on August 20-23 resulted in flash floods that drowned at least 26.
It was a very active month typhoon-wise in the Western Pacific. Notable typhoons struck Macao and Hong Kong including Typhoon Kai-tak that caused winds to gust to 87 mph at Hong Kong’s International Airport on August 23 and 27 lives were lost in China’s Guangdong and Guangxi Provinces. It was the strongest typhoon to hit Hong Kong since 1999. Typhoon Bolaven was the strongest typhoon to hit the Korean Peninsula since 2002 when it roared ashore on August 28th. At least 18 deaths (mostly fisherman) were reported as a result of the storm with at least a further 48 fatalities reported just recently from North Korea.
The biggest weather story of the month in Asia, however, was the tremendous flood that engulfed Manila in the Philippines between July 31-August 8th. Up to 1000 mm (40”) of rain was reported to have fallen in Quezon City during the week of rains and there were some 60 fatalities reported. For details about the flood see Angela Fritz’s August blog on the subject.
Manila’s streets turned into lakes during the phenomenal flood that affected the city the first week of August. Photo by Jof Cubol.
Australia had a warmer and drier August than normal, reversing (temperature-wise) the cold weather endured over much of the country the previous July. It was Western Australia’s driest August since 1995 and 2nd warmest August on record.
A very warm month virtually nation-wide for Australia this past August (top map). Precipitation was also below normal in most of the country, especially in portions of Western Australia where it was the driest August on record (bottom map). Maps courtesy of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
The warmest temperature recorded in Australia during this past August was 38.5°C (101.3°F) at Fitzroy Crossing, Western Australia on August 27th and the coldest -4.9°C (23.2°F) at Thredbo Top Station, New South Wales on August 6th. The greatest calendar day precipitation was 73.0mm (2.87”) at Mount Sabine, Victoria on August 18th.
NEW ZEALAND/SOUTH PACIFIC
It was generally a mild and wet August in New Zealand although there was a sharp contrast in precipitation totals on the South Island where anomalies ran the gamut from 10% to 400% of normal!
The extreme anomaly between very dry and very wet weather that affected the South Island in August can be seen in this map above. Map courtesy of NIWA.
The highest temperature recorded was 22.7°C (72.9°F) at Christchurch, South Island on August 26th and the lowest -5.3°C (22.5°F) at Ranfurly on August 23rd. The greatest calendar day rainfall was 198 mm (7.80”) at Akaroa on August 25th.
The coldest temperature in the southern hemisphere and the world during August was -80.0°C (-112.0°F) recorded at Vostok on August 7th.
KUDOS Thanks to Maximiliano Herrera for global temperature extremes data, Stephen Burt for the U.K. extremes, and Jeremy Budd and NIWA for New Zealand weather extremes.
Recap of record-breaking heat this past July in the U.S. Possible new heat record for Asia observed
Although the final ranking of this past July will not be released by the NCDC until around August 7th, it would appear that the month will almost certainly rank in the top five warmest July’s on record since official records began in 1895 (and perhaps even in the top three). Here is a summary of some of the more notable records set so far this summer. In addition, I have included a brief message concerning a potential new heat record for the continent of Asia.
Although this map is specifically for July 5th, it represents the overall pattern that most of the country has been stuck with for almost the entire month of July 2012.
Warmest Single Month on Record (any month)
Preliminary data from the NCDC reports that 4,313 record daily highs, 293 monthly record highs, and 171 all-time record highs were observed this past July (among the approximately 5,500 various official weather sites across the nation). Many of these sites, however, have limited periods of record that do not extend back to the 1930s when the country’s greatest heat waves occurred.
The WU extremes U.S. database follows 298 significant sites in the country, all of which have long periods of record (almost all back to the 19th century) and represent a mosaic of evenly spaced geographic locations representing all the climate zones in the country. About 90% of the country’s population resides within a 50-mile radius of one of these sites. From this list the following cities recorded their single-warmest month on record:
The following cities from the WU extremes database have broken or tied their all-time absolute maximum temperatures on record (including this past June):
Comparing this July to July of 2011
Perhaps what is truly astonishing is that this July (2012) piggybacks upon the equally torrid summer (and July) of 2011. Although, back-to-back record-breaking hot summers are not unheard of (summers in the 1930s and 1950s come to mind) it is nevertheless disconcerting.
Here is a comparison of extremes reached in July 2012 versus July 2011. Also, to put this in context, is a comparison to July of 1936, still almost certainly the hottest July (and single month) in U.S. records. Again this list includes only the 298 cities in the WU database:
This table shows the number of cities (out of 298 in all) that recorded their respective single-warmest month on record and absolute maximum temperature on record for the June-July month timeframes in 2012, 2011, and 1936.
Other major cities came VERY close to breaking their all-time warmest single month on record including Washington, D.C. (National Airport) with a July average of 84.0° just shy of the record 84.5° set last July (2011). The Dulles Airport location was also close with 80.6° vs. 81.0° in July 2011. Raleigh, North Carolina averaged 83.5°, shy of their record 84.1° set in August 2007. Chicago, Illinois official site at O’Hare Airport registered an average of 81.1° just short of the 81.3° record set in July 1995. However, the Chicago Midway Airport location, which is more representative of the city itself and also has a much longer period of record (POR) than O’Hare, smashed its all-time warmest month record with an average of 82.6° versus 81.3° in July 1955. Louisville, Kentucky experienced its warmest ever July with an average of 84.5°, but fell short of its single-hottest-month record of 85.0° set in August 2007. Madison, Wisconsin (home of my alma matter!) has just endured its 2nd hottest month on record with a 79.4° average, just short of the record 79.8° set way back in July 1901.
Of course, this is just a short list of the many amazing ‘heat feats’ this past July. I should also mention a couple of the many endurance records that have been set:
Fort Wayne, Indiana: 22 consecutive days above 90° ending on July 18 (old record was 14).
St. Louis, Missouri: 11 days above 105° (old record was 10 in 1934). Also, St. Louis tied its warmest night on record with a low of 86° on July 25th (also occurred on July 24, 1901).
New Asian Heat Record Set?
On a similar topic but different continent, I have late word in from temperature detective Maximiliano Herrera that on July 31st a temperature of 53.6°C (128.5°F) was measured at Sulaibya (Sulaibiya), Kuwait. This location is on the outskirts of Kuwait city and is a water treatment facility.
A Google map image of the location in Kuwait of Sulaibya. Google Earth image.
Although the Kuwaiti meteorological office must make a final determination towards the records validity, a local expert, Dr. Juergen Herrmann (Team Leader Meteorology Specialists, Stanley Consultants, Int’l based in Kuwait) has the following comments in response to a request from Max for additional details:
“We are aware of the new record temperatures. There is no reason why these should not be considered records. Everything is technically OK at the station. You may have detected that the same day we had quiet an amount of other stations in the “vicinity” also have high to record temperatures.
The microclimate at this agro-station is surrounded by high sand dunes and thus has very low wind speeds at 2m height [which] results in a local heat island. Therefore I would not consider this temperature representative for an area bigger than 0.5×0.5km. The next station to Sulaibiya which gives a proper picture for the surrounding area is Jahra – 40586 – and had maximum temperature at the same day of 51.8 deg C. To my best guess this verifies both stations are working properly. Especially as a number of other stations also had really high temperatures that day due to generally low wind speeds with nearly no dust reducing the incoming solar radiation.”
If verified, this would surpass the 53.5°C (128.3°F) measured at Moen Jo-Daro, Pakistan on May 26, 2010. The reading of 54°C (129.2°F) from Tirat Tsvi, Israel on June 22, 1942 remains under suspicion. The Israeli Met. Office pursued an investigation of the record this past year (prompted by an enquiry from the WMO and myself) and concluded it was valid. However, they have refused to make public the details leading to their conclusions, so until they do so the record remains suspect.
KUDOS: Maximiliano Herrera for uncovering yet another possible world record temperature.
A violent line of organized severe thunderstorms called a derecho swept across the U.S. from Illinois to Virginia on Friday, damaging houses, toppling trees, bringing down power lines. The storms killed six people in Virginia, two in New Jersey, and one in Maryland, and left at least 3.4 million people without power. The thunderstorms in a derecho (from the Spanish phrase for “straight ahead”) create violent winds that blow in a straight line. The traditional definition of a derecho is a thunderstorm complex that produces a damaging wind swath of at least 240 miles (about 400 km), featuring a concentrated area of thunderstorm wind gusts exceeding 58 mph (93 km/hr.) A warm weather phenomenon, derechos occur mostly in summer, especially June and July in the Northern Hemisphere. They can occur at any time of the year and occur as frequently at night as in the daylight hours. As seen on our wundermap with the “go back in time” feature turned on, Friday’s derecho began near Chicago in the early afternoon, then marched east-southeast, peaking in intensity over Virginia and Washington D.C. on Friday evening. The derecho was unusually intense due to the extreme heat, which helped create an unstable atmosphere with plenty of energy to fuel severe thunderstorms.
Figure 1. Radar image from our wundermap with the “go back in time” feature turned on for 11 pm EDT Friday June 29, 2012, showing the derecho over Washington D.C. and Baltimore. Click on the “hour” button above the wundermap to advance the time by one hour to watch the progress of the derecho across the country.
Figure 2. NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center (SPC) logged 871 reports of damaging winds on Friday. Twenty one of these reports were for winds over 80 mph. The highest wind gust was in Oswego, Illinois: 92 mph.
Figure 3. A dramatic change in the weather in Buckeye land: the temperature at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio dropped from 97°F to 68° after passage of Friday’s derecho. The storm brought a wind gust of 82 mph to campus, and 0.86″ of rain.
Historic heat wave topples Dust Bowl-era extreme heat records
A historic heat wave on a scale and intensity not seen in the U.S. since the great heat waves of the 1930s Dust Bowl era set new all-time heat records for at least ten major cities Friday. According to wunderground’s weather historian Christopher C. Burt, fifteen of the 303 major cities he maintains records for on the wunderground extremes page have set all-time heat records in the past four days. The only year with more all-time heat records is 1936, when 61 cities set all-time heat records. In 2011, which had the 2nd warmest summer in U.S. history, only ten of the 303 cities set all-time heat records during the entire summer. With the the hottest month of the year (July) still to come, 2012 threatens to rival the great Dust Bowl summer of 1936 for extreme heat.
All-time records for any date tied or broken on Friday:
109° Nashville, TN (old record 107° 7/28/1952
109° Columbia, SC (old record 107° on two previous occasions)
109° Cairo, IL (old record 106° on 8/9/1930)
108° Paducah, KY (ties same on 7/17/1942
106° Chattanooga, TN (ties same on 7/28/1952)
105° Raleigh, NC (ties same on 8/21/2007 and 8/18/1988)
105° Greenville, SC (old record 104° 8/10/2007 although 106° was recorded by the Signal Service in July 1887)
104° Charlotte, NC (ties same on 8/9 and 10/2007 and 9/6/1954)
102° Bristol, TN (ties same on 7/28/1952-this site now known as `Tri-State Airport’)
109° Athens, GA. This is just 1° shy of the Georgia state record for June of 110° set at Warrenton in 1959.
All-time state June heat records set Friday:
113° Smyrna, TN (old record 110° in Etowah in June 1936)
109° Cairo, IL (old record 108° in Palestine in June 1954)
Also of note: Atlanta, GA hit 104° (its all-time June record), and just 1° shy of its all-time record of 105° set on 7/17/1980. The forecast for Atlanta on Saturday calls for a high of 105°F, which would tie for the hottest day in the city’s history.
Relatively quiet in the Atlantic
An area of heavy thunderstorms, associated with an upper level low pressure system, has developed in the Gulf of Mexico along the Texas coast. This disturbance will probably move ashore over Texas before development into a tropical depression can occur, and NHC is giving it a 0% chance of development. The tropical wave approaching the Lesser Antilles (Invest 97L) has dissipated due to dry air, and is no longer a threat. None of the reliable computer models are developing anything during the next seven days.
The most incredible spring heat wave in U.S. and Canadian recorded history is finally drawing to a close today, after a ten-day stretch of unprecedented record-smashing intensity. Since record keeping began in the late 1800s, there have never been so many spring temperature records broken, and by such a large margin. Airports in fifteen different states have set all-time records for March warmth, which is truly extraordinary considering that the records were set in the middle of the month, instead of the end of the month. The 29.2°C (85°F) measured at Western Head, Nova Scotia yesterday was the third warmest temperature ever recorded in Canada in March, according to Environement Canada and weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera (top two records: 31.1°C at Alberini Beaver Creek BC on March 29th 1926, and 29.4°C in 1921 at Wallaceburg.) Michigan’s all-time record for March warmth was toppled on Wednesday, when the mercury hit 90°F at Lapeer. The previous record, 89° at Lapeer in 1910, was matched at three stations yesterday–Ypsilanti, Dearborn, and Lapeer. The duration, areal size, and intensity of the Summer in March, 2012 heat wave are simply off-scale, and the event ranks as one of North America’s most extraordinary weather events in recorded history. Such a historic event is difficult to summarize, and in today’s post I will offer just a few of the most notable highlights.
Figure 1. Clear skies over the Eastern U.S. caused by a blocking ridge of high pressure on March 21, 2012, are apparent in this visible satellite image. The comma-shaped cloud pattern over the Central U.S. is associated with a “cut-off” low pressure system. This low is moving over the Eastern U.S. today through Saturday, and will bring an end to “Summer in March” over the U.S. and Canada. Image credit: NOAA’s Environmental Visualization Lab, and modified by Andrew Freedman of Climate Central.
Low temperatures beating previous high temperature records for the date
I’ve never seen a case where the low temperature for the date beat the previous record high. This happened on at least four occasions during “Summer in March, 2012”:
The low temperature at Marquette, Michigan hit 52° on March 21, which was 3° warmer than the previous record high for the date.
The low temperature for International Falls, Minnesota on March 20 bottomed out at 60°F, tying the previous record high for the date.
The low temperature in Rochester, Minnesota on March 18 was 62°F, which beat the previous record high for the date of 60°.
Breaking all-time April records for warmth in March
Not only did many locations in Canada set records for their all-time warmest March day during “Summer in March, 2012”, a number also broke their record for warmest April day:
St. John, New Brunswick hit 27.2°C (81°F) on March 21. Previous March record: 17.5°C on March 21, 1994. April record: 22.8°C.
Halifax, Nova Scotia hit 27.2°C (81°F) yesterday. Previous March record: 25.8° set the previous day. April record: 26.3°C, set on April 30, 2004.
Breaking daily temperature records by more than 30°F
It is exceptionally rare for a weather station with a 50+ year period of record to break a daily temperature record by more than 10°F. During “Summer in March, 2012”, beating daily records by 10° – 20°F was commonplace, and many records were smashed by over 20°. Two stations broke records by more than 30°F, which is truly surreal. Western Head, Nova Scotia hit 29.2°C (85°F), yesterday, breaking their previous record for the date (10.6°C in 1969) by 18.6°C (33°F.) Yesterday’s high temperature was 24°C (44°F) above average. Pellston, Michigan in the Northern Lower Peninsula–dubbed “Michigan’s Icebox”, since it frequently records the coldest temperatures in the state–hit 85° on March 21. This broke the previous record for the date (53° in 2007) by 32°, and was an absurd 48°F above average.
Breaking daily temperature records nine consecutive days or more
It is extremely rare for stations with a 50+ year period of record to break a daily high temperature record for seven or more days in a row. The longest such streak of consecutive high temperature records at International Falls, Minnesota, was a 5-day period March 3 – 7, 2000. The city has tied or broken their high temperature for the date ten consecutive days, as of yesterday. This streak will likely end today, as the high is predicted to be 60 – 65, and the record high for the date is 66. Chicago, Illinois has tied or broken their daily high temperature record the past nine days in a row. This ties the nine-day streak of record highs set on August 26 – September 3, 1953. Other cites that have set daily high temperature records the past nine days in a row include Fort Wayne and South Bend, Indiana. Numerous cities have broken high temperature records on seven consecutive days during “Summer in March, 2012”, including Gaylord, Pellston, and Traverse City in Michigan.
Figure 2. All-time high temperature records set in March 2012 for the U.S. The grey icons show locations where the March record was broken on multiple days. Image taken from wunderground’s new record extremes page, using data from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.
The big picture: the impacts of “Summer in March, 2012”
I’ve always said living in Michigan would be much more bearable if we could just get rid of March. March weather here is always horrible, with brutal cold, high winds, damaging ice storms, heavy snow, interminable cloudy stretches with no sun, all interspersed with a few teasing warm spells. Well, this year, I got my wish. This March, we started with twelve days of April weather, followed by ten days of June and July weather, with nine days of May weather predicted to round out the month. This has been a huge benefit to the economy–vastly reduced heating costs, no snow removal bills, and far fewer traffic accidents due to icy roads. However, there is major downside to the “Summer in March, 2012” heat wave. The growing season is now in full swing, five weeks early. A damaging freeze that will severely impact the fruit industry and other sensitive plants is very likely. Indeed, the forecast calls for lows in the upper 20s in the cherry-growing region of Michigan near Traverse City on Monday night. The exceptional March warmth has also melted all the snow in the northern U.S. and southern Canada, drying out the soils and setting the stage for a much warmer than average summer, and an increased chance of damaging drought conditions. The early loss of snowpack will also likely cause very low flow rates in the major rivers in late summer and early fall, reducing the amount of water needed for irrigation of crops. Low flows may also cause problems for navigation, limiting commercial barge traffic on Midwest rivers.