Thursday 8 August 2019

"Throwing cold water on extreme heat hype," Just what are we to make of the weather?

The record-breaking week in July...Credit Accuweather

Dr Joel N. Myers, AccuWeather Founder and CEO posted a very interesting piece on his website yesterday which got me thinking.

His post, "Throwing cold water on extreme heat hype," explained why he thought naming heatwaves in the same manner we name winter storms was a bad idea.

He claimed average temperatures have been higher in recent years but there is no evidence so far that extreme heatwaves are becoming more common because of climate change, especially when you consider how many heatwaves occurred historically compared to recent history.

Dr Joel N. Myers threw in some very interesting stats which, honestly surprised me, New York City has not had a daily high temperature above 100 degrees since 2012, and it has had only five such days since 2002. However, in a previous 18-year span from 1984 through 2001, New York City had nine days at 100 degrees or higher. When the power went out in New York City earlier this month, the temperature didn’t even get to 100 degrees – it was 95, which is not extreme. For comparison, there were 12 days at 95 degrees or higher in 1999 alone.
Kansas City, Missouri, for example, experienced an average of 18.7 days a year at 100 degrees or higher during the 1930s, compared to just 5.5 a year over the last 10 years. And over the last 30 years, Kansas City has averaged only 4.8 days a year at 100 degrees or higher, which is only one-quarter of the frequency of days at 100 degrees or higher in the 1930s.
Here is a fact rarely, if ever, mentioned: 26 of the 50 states set their all-time high-temperature records during the 1930s that still stand (some have since been tied). And an additional 11 state all-time high-temperature records were set before 1930 and only two states have all-time record high temperatures that were set in the 21st century (South Dakota and South Carolina). So 37 of the 50 states have an all-time high-temperature record not exceeded for more than 75 years. Given these numbers and the decreased frequency of days of 100 degrees or higher, it cannot be said that either the frequency or magnitude of heatwaves is more common today. Interesting stats so I decided to check Holland, where I live.

The hottest day on record in Holland with a temperature of 38,6 deg C (101.5 deg F) occurred on the 23rd of August, 1944 in Warnsveld, however, a new all-time record was set on July 25th 2019 when the mercury hit 39.8 deg C. (104 deg F)
A day later on the 26th of July, a new all-time record was set when the temperature broke through the 40 deg C barrier as the mercury rose to 40.4 deg C, (105 deg F) in Gilze-Rijen.

In France, at least 70 locations recorded all-time highs, with the hottest temperature ever at 46.0 °C (114.8 °F) Verargues, Hérault on June the 28th 2019, with 23 of France's hottest temperatures ever recorded on that day.

Three days earlier than the French record above, the UK recorded their hottest day ever at 38.7 deg C (101.7 deg F) Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

The same week in July hundreds of locations across Europe smashed all-time hot weather records by an impressive margin with many locations beating records placed the day before.

According to the Weather Channel, in Germany, at least 139 locations saw all-time highs, representing a large chunk of the nation’s 400-plus observing sites.

Alaska saw a dramatic surge, with the heat smashing previous records in several cities.
In Anchorage, the mercury stayed above 26C for six days in a row, doubling the previous record.
Wildfires have raged across the Arctic with millions of hectares burning in northern parts of Russia.
India has suffered heatwaves and severe water shortages. Japan saw more than 5,000 people seek hospital treatment due to a heatwave last week.
However, many parts of the US recorded their coldest ever period in July and parts of Canada too and the US has suffered an agricultural disaster in 2019.

The crazy weather affecting the US in 2019 continued when a new daily low-temperature record was set in International Falls, where the mercury dipped to 37 degrees F, (2.5 deg C), breaking the record (38 degrees) set back in 1898. The low temperature recorded in Minnesota on July the 30th was around 20 deg F cooler than it should be this time of the year.
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