Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Hot Times In The Nation Now; Hot Times In The World Past 14 Months

All those reddish hues in a huge area in the
middle of the nation represent the heart
of the big heat wave today and tomorrow.
The heat will spread east over the rest of the week
and weekend, but will largely miss New England 
The heat wave in the middle of the nation is here, and it's a nasty one.

Excessive heat warnings and heat advisories cover a huge area in the middle of the country from the Canadian border in Minnesota all the way down to Louisiana.  

On a larger scale, NOAA released its monthly global climate report for June, and it's another one for the record books. More on that below after I get into the more immediate news of the nation's biggest, nastiest heat wave of 2016.


According to the Weather Channel, something like 42 million people are in the bullseye for the heat. In northern locations  like Des Moines, Minneapolis and Omaha on Thursday, the combination of the heat and the expected high humidity will make it feel like it's about 110 degrees outside.

Those locations always get hot in July, but not usually that hot. Since not everybody up north has air conditioning, and temperatures at night will stay in the stifling upper 70s during the heat wave, healh officials are understandably worried about an uptick in deaths.

Heat waves are often the deadliest weather disaster, though we don't hear about that kind of thing in the media as much in part because hot spells aren't photogenic, like tornadoes, floods and hurricanes.

Most of the people who die in heat waves are elderly and people with pre-existing health problems.

A heat wave in 1995 killed around 700 people in the Chicago area, for instance. By the way, Chicago is in the heart of this week's heat wave, so they're taking precautions to get people into air conditioned buildings, says the Chicago Tribune. 

Already, four people have died from heat related illnesses in the El Paso, Texas area after 16 consecutive days of 100 degree weather, says the El Paso Times.

Special shout -out to my relatives and friends in Yankton, South Dakota: You're in for BIG heat, especially today and Thursday. Stay in the air conditioning, and if you don't have it, do something like take a long, lingering shopping trip to the frozen food section at Hy-Vee.

This will probably be the nastiest heat wave in the nation since probably 2012 or 2013, or even longer in some areas.

The heat will spead to the East Coast by the weekend, with readings flirting with 100 degrees in the Mid-Atlantic states.

The exception will be where I am  in northern New England, I'll largely miss out on the torrid heat wave. It will be very warm and humid occasionally over the next week, but not anywhere near any scary record highs.

The price we'll pay here is that since the heat wave will be just south and west of us, weather disturbances zipping along the northern edge of the hot zone will feed on that heat, and will contribute to outbreaks of thunderstorms, some maybe severe.

Friday afternoon, for instance, has all of New England under threat of severe storms.

The cold fronts with these disturbances will keep the heat largely at bay, though.


Yesterday, NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information released their June global analysis  and said that month was the 14th consecutive month the world set a record high temperature for a month.

Fourteen consecutive months is just incredible. The year 2016 is almost surely going to go down as the world's hottest year on record. That will beat 2015 as the Number One hot year, which beat 2014 as Number One.

Yep, the climate is a-changin'

Of course, the now-faded El Nino gave a boost to global temperatures in 2015 and 2016.  I noticed the May and June temperatures didn't break records by quite as large a margin as earlier month, which probably reflects the fact El Nino is gone.

I'm also sure because of the passing of El Nino a month very soon won't be a record high for the globe. That could even be July, for all I know, despite the big heat wave hitting now in the middle of the nation.

But climate change's fingerprints are all over the climate data from the past year. The world would have certainly had a warm spell with El Nino, but climate change, combined with El Nino, almost certainly made for these world records.

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