2011: Summer of Pain

Streak of heat in Dallas continues... courtesy: NOAA (NWS Dallas-Ft. Worth)

Following up my post from last week when we saw extreme heat in the Northeast, this summer has been pretty awful in terms of heat. Not atypical given a strongly positive Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) and sharply negative Pacific Decadal Oscillation and strong pool of warm water further in the North Pacific, but as we are beginning to approach to some insane records, I figured it would be interesting to look at this summer from a historical perspective, and I decided to use the NCDC’s record temps tool to sort all of the all-time record highs recorded or matched this summer. In other words, stations that have seen or tied their warmest temperature ever. And as we prepare to see the drought stricken Southern Plains and North Texas absolutely bake this week, this list should grow further.

Some notes:

– Stations had to have a period of record of at least 30 years to qualify. Some of the 30-50 year records aren’t that impressive, but there were a substantial number of all-time records set at stations with periods of record of 60-110 years.

– I didn’t discriminate between official ASOS observing sites and Co-ops, so some of the Co-op records shouldn’t be taken with full confidence, but any site with 60-80+ years of data that sets an all-time record is pretty significant.

– Northway, AK broke the old record of 91 degrees twice…once with a 94 on 7/10 and then shattered that with a 97 on 7/11.

– Tallahassee and Marianna, FL both tied or broke their all-time records multiple times in June.

– Multiple locations on the Plains and Texas did as well. It was interesting to see how many station tied their all-time records one day, then busted through them shortly thereafter.

-Ypsilanti, MI set their record July 2nd and then broke it by two on 7/21. That one is an oddball and stands out, and I wonder if that has to do with new construction in that area?

– It’s not a coincidence that several of these all-time records being broken were originally set in the 70s, 50s, or 30s, as those also saw somewhat similar global weather patterns to what we see in 2011. No coincidence either that we’ve had insane, Dust Bowl type drought, incredibly horrible tornadoes, and active hurricane seasons as well.

– It is also impressive how many 1980, 1988, 1995, 1998, and 2010 records you see on these lists as well.

– Check S of O out on Facebook!

Here’s the list…apologies for some of the formatting. Haven’t found a simple way to put Excel into WordPress.

Date Site New Record Prev Record Date Set Yrs. Data
6/1 Tallahassee, FL 103 103 7/30/2010 68
6/1 Marianna, FL 105 105 7/31/2010 65
6/4 Enterprise, AL 104 104 7/21/2000 45
6/4 Winter Haven, FL 104 104 7/24/1952 71
6/13 Marianna, FL 105 105 6/1/2011 65
6/13 Jal, NM 114 112 6/29/1957 75
6/14 Tallahassee, FL 103 103 6/1/2011 68
6/14 Ashburn, GA 102 102 8/10/2007 55
6/15 Marianna, FL 105 105 6/13/2011 65
6/15 Valdosta, GA 106 106 8/2/1998 44
6/15 Tallahassee, FL 105 103 6/14/2011 68
6/15 Purdum, NE 116 114 7/24/1940 109
6/17 Laredo, TX 113 113 6/15/1998 56
6/19 Putnam, TX 110 110 8/8/2003 48
6/23 Raton, NM 102 100 7/25/2009 32
6/24 Raton, NM 102 102 6/23/2011 32
6/24 Amarillo, TX 109 108 6/28/1998 68
6/24 Borger, TX 109 108 6/27/1998 63
6/24 Dalhart, TX 108 107 6/24/1990 64
6/25 Portales, NM 109 109 6/28/1968 103
6/25 Wellington, TX 114 113 6/25/1994 52
6/26 Dodge City, KS 110 110 6/29/1998 68
6/26 Gage, OK 113 113 7/10/2009 73
6/26 Wellington, TX 117 114 6/25/2011 52
6/26 Childress, TX 117 117 6/27/1994 69
6/26 Amarillo, TX 111 109 6/24/2011 68
6/26 Borger, TX 111 109 6/24/2011 63
6/26 Morton, TX 111 110 6/28/1994 49
6/26 Plainview, TX 111 111 6/28/1994 104
6/26 Tulia, TX 110 110 6/28/1994 63
6/26 Dalhart, TX 110 108 6/24/2011 64
6/26 Canyon, TX 109 109 6/24/2011 58
6/27 Ft. Huachuca, AZ 106 106 7/28/1995 74
6/27 Ashland, KS 114 114 8/13/1936 112
6/27 Richfield, KS 111 111 6/30/1933 67
6/27 Goodwell, OK 112 111 6/30/1998 93
6/27 Fort Supply, OK 110 110 7/11/2009 72
6/27 Paducah, TX 118 118 6/28/1994 55
6/27 Turkey, TX 116 115 6/27/1994 47
6/27 Shamrock, TX 115 113 6/25/1980 50
6/27 Lipscomb, TX 114 114 7/19/1978 48
6/27 Panhandle, TX 112 111 6/3/2008 49
6/27 Plainview, TX 112 111 6/26/2011 104
6/27 Silverton, TX 111 109 6/28/1994 50
6/27 Canyon, TX 109 109 6/26/2011 58
6/29 Wilcox, AZ 110 110 6/28/1994 108
6/30 Garden City, KS 109 108 7/15/2003 55
7/2 Ypsilanti, MI 101 100 7/15/1977 49
7/9 Medicine Lodge, KS 114 113 8/22/1984 32
7/9 Oklahoma City, OK 110 110 7/6/1996 71
7/10 Northway, AK 94 91 6/15/1969 70
7/10 Hutchinson, KS 112 111 7/17/1980 50
7/10 Blanchard, OK 112 112 8/5/1964 60
7/10 Fort Supply, OK 110 110 6/27/2011 72
7/11 Northway, AK 97 94 7/10/2011 70
7/12 Shamrock, TX 117 115 6/27/2011 50
7/13 Magnolia, AR 109 109 9/1/2000 61
7/14 Magnolia, AR 112 109 7/13/2011 61
7/14 Wilmington, NC Co-op 104 104 8/2/1999 61
7/21 Ypsilanti, MI 103 101 7/2/2011 49
7/21 Waterford, MI 98 98 8/9/2001 34
7/21 Elmira, NY 104 102 7/17/1988 42
7/21 Altoona, PA 101 100 7/16/1988 56
7/21 Dubois, PA 98 98 7/16/1988 46
7/21 Fort Atkinson, WI 103 102 8/2/1988 71
7/22 Homer, AK 84 81 7/10/1993 80
7/22 Hartford, CT 103 102 7/6/2010 52
7/22 Windsor Locks, CT 103 102 7/6/2010 68
7/22 Bridgeport, CT 103 103 7/22/1957 68
7/22 New Haven, CT 101 100 7/6/2010 58
7/22 Tipton, IN 98 98 7/21/1999 35
7/22 Boston, MA 103 103 7/22/1926 92
7/22 New Bedford, MA 102 100 7/6/1999 38
7/22 Walpole, MA 102 102 8/2/1975 39
7/22 Norwood, MA 101 101 7/6/2010 34
7/22 Hingham, MA 101 100 8/14/2002 51
7/22 BWI Airport, MD 106 105 7/6/2010 67
7/22 Salisbury, MD 102 102 7/6/2010 64
7/22 Newark, NJ 108 105 8/9/2001 77
7/22 Trenton, NJ 106 104 7/6/2010 36
7/22 Teterboro, NJ 104 104 7/10/2007 41
7/22 Bath, NY 102 101 7/16/1988 51
7/22 Geneva, NY 99 97 8/10/2001 43
7/22 Shippensburg, PA 105 104 7/16/1988 80
7/22 NE Philadelphia, PA 105 104 7/6/2010 42
7/22 Altoona, PA 103 101 7/21/2011 56
7/22 Williamsport, PA 103 103 7/15/1995 64
7/22 Lancaster, PA 103 101 7/6/2010 38
7/22 Stevenson Dam, PA 102 101 7/17/1988 43
7/22 Dubois, PA 101 98 7/21/2011 46
7/22 Tionesta, PA 100 99 7/16/1995 73
7/22 Bradford, PA 97 97 7/16/1988 55
7/22 Dulles Airport, VA 105 104 7/16/1988 50
7/23 Norfolk, CT 94 93 8/6/1955 74
7/23 Birch Hill Dam, MA 99 99 7/8/2010 63
7/23 Norton, MA 99 98 8/27/1948 37
7/23 Natl. Arboretum, DC 105 104 8/1/1999 64
7/23 Salisbury, MD 103 102 7/22/2011 64
7/23 West Buxton, ME 98 98 7/20/1991 57
7/23 Williamston, NC 101 101 7/8/2010 57
7/23 New Brunswick, NJ 105 105 7/7/2010 44
7/23 Bath, NY 103 102 7/22/2011 51
7/23 Stevenson Dam, PA 106 102 7/22/2011 43
7/23 Renovo, PA 105 104 7/4/1966 53
7/23 Lock Haven, PA 105 104 7/15/1988 36
7/23 Ford City, PA 104 101 7/30/1988 69
7/23 Blue Marsh Lake, PA 103 102 7/6/1999 34
7/23 Lancaster, PA Co-op 103 102 7/16/1988 36
7/23 Slippery Rock, PA 102 102 7/16/1988 63
7/23 Tionesta, PA 102 100 7/22/2011 73
7/23 Bradford, PA Co-op 99 98 7/7/1986 70
7/23 Kane, PA 98 98 6/30/1944 73
7/23 Sterling, VA 104 104 8/21/1983 35
7/23 Buckeye, WV 97 96 7/6/1999 51
7/24 Twin Lakes Resvr, CO 88 88 7/18/2003 44
7/25 Downsville Dam, NY 95 95 7/6/1987 32
7/25 Beltzville Dam, PA 101 101 7/11/1988 41
7/27 Salina, KS 113 113 7/14/1954 60
7/27 Hutchinson, KS 113 112 7/10/2011 50
7/28 Hutchinson, KS Co-op 113 111 8/6/1964 50
7/28 Sterling, KS 112 112 6/27/1980 63
7/28 Marion Resvr, KS 110 109 7/20/2006 46
7/30 Natl. Arboretum, DC 106 105 7/23/2011 64

July 22, 2011 Northeast Heat Records

US Record High Temperature Map (http://www.coolwx.com)

Based on official NWS Climate Sites in most cases, daily climate reports and NOWData tabs on the NWS websites. Should be considered unofficial until NWS issues record reports on them. Feel free to post any corrections/additions.

Best of the best

Newark, NJ 108 (All-time record)

Hartford, CT (Bradley) 103 (All-time record)

Washington, DC (Dulles) 105 (All-time record)

Salisbury, MD 102 (Unofficially ties all-time record)

Trenton, NJ 106 (Ties all-time record)

Bridgeport, CT 103 (Ties all-time record)

Best of the Rest

Portland, ME 100 (Daily record, #4 all-time)

Concord, NH 100 (Daily record)

Boston, MA 103 (Daily record, #2 all-time)

Providence, RI 101 (Daily record, #4 all-time)

Islip, NY (Long Isl) 100 (Daily record, #4 all-time)

New York City (Central Park) 104 (Daily record, #4 all-time)

New York City (JFK Airport) 103 (Daily record, #2 all-time)

New York City (LaGuardia Airport) 103 (Daily record (#3 all-time)

Scranton, PA 98 (Daily record)

Williamsport, PA 103 (Daily record, #4 all-time)

Atlantic City, NJ (Pomona) 105 (Daily record, #2 all-time)

Allentown, PA 104 (Daily record, #2 all-time)

Philadelphia, PA 103 (Daily record, #4 all-time)

Wilmington, DE 102 (Daily record #7 all-time)

Harrisburg, PA 103 (Daily record, #7 all-time)

Baltimore, MD (BWI Airport) 106 (Daily record, #2 all-time)

Baltimore, MD (Inner Harbor) 108 (Not an official record, but impressive)

Washington, DC (Reagan National) 102 (Not a record)

Wallops Island, VA 100 (Daily record, #3 all-time)

Norfolk, VA 102 (Daily record, #9 all-time)


A few notes about the heat. I think you can thank overnight low temps for this…temps started off incredibly warm this morning, with many areas not getting below 80 degrees. That helped lead to a very rapid warm up during the climatological hottest time of the year. This was essentially a perfect storm of heat…an anomalously strong mid-summer ridge building into areas during the peak temperatures of the year. Timing is everything, and this was timed out rather well (or probably not if you are sick of the heat already). Was it because of global warming? The answer I want to give is “no,” but the answer that is correct is that we simply do not know. Singular events are impossible to link to a warming planet because of greenhouse gases. Singular events should NOT be used as proof one way or another regarding global warming. It takes years of trends to prove the argument one way or another, and one day we’ll figure that out. For now, just accept that it’s summer and it’s hot, and try and keep cool the best you can.

One more day of excessive heat tomorrow, though I believe thunderstorms will be more scattered about, so that will help the situation some. After a cooling trend early next week, we look to see impressive, significantly hot temperatures return late next week and weekend. Though likely not quite as bad as today, there’s a lot of potential then as well to be record breaking type heat, but more on the low scale…not the all-time stuff. I sincerely believe we will see at least 1-2 more blasts of substantial heat (stronger than the usual stuff) through August before this summer starts to loosen its grip. So stay ready to keep cool!

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A Year of “Extreme” (Duration) Disasters

This year has been interesting in a number of ways from a meteorological standpoint. It’s been tragic from a human standpoint…and it’s been extreme. And I’m not talking about what you may think. The disasters of 2011 have been, for the most part, either extremely quick to occur…or painfully slow. Tornadoes? Almost instantaneous. But drought and river flooding? Slow enough to the point where a lot of meteorologists call them “boring.”

Hydrograph/Forecast of river levels on the Missouri at Williston: http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?wfo=bis&gage=wltn8&view=1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1%22

We’ve had the flood on the Mississippi already. But in progress at present is another extreme flood, this time on the Missouri River. To the left is the hydrograph and forecast from the Missouri at Williston, ND…already at a record level and only forecasted to rise further. This winter has been a perfect storm for this sort of setup. With one of the strongest La Ninas in recent memory in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean, snowpack was high in the Upper Midwest (not unusual). The melt of that, combined with a period of extreme rains from March and April’s severe weather helped push the Mississippi to record levels. La Ninas also traditionally hammer the Northwest US with heavy snowfall. This year was a late bloomer, but when it hit, it didn’t stop from late February through mid to late May. That melt in the Northern Rockies is helping to fuel this record flooding scenario. The meteorological factors coming together this past winter/spring have really not happened since the 70s and possibly not to this level since the 30s or 20s…so it’s not a huge surprise that years from those decades are the years a lot of these records were set.

Speaking of the 30s…similar factors seen in the Dust Bowl era seem to be helping to fuel the epic drought in the Southern US this year.

US Drought Monitor's Map of Texas from Today

The map to the right shows the drought in Texas. The D4 (exceptional drought) area from the US Drought Monitor is currently in place across an uncanny 57.83% of Texas. These are tremendously high numbers that will likely only continue to get worse unless a tropical system impacts the entire state (because I don’t think daily isolated thunderstorm activity is going to really help this). D4 areas are also present across Louisiana, Oklahoma, Georgia, Florida, and New Mexico. With that La Nina, while northern parts of the country bask in precip and snow, the South usually ends up dry. Western Arizona into Southern California were a notable exception this year, but from Eastern Arizona (where the tremendous wildfires are currently burning) through West Texas, the La Nina helped to serve up dry misery.

These events are certainly troubling and certainly tough to swallow, especially if you live in those areas. But they are really far from unusual. They have happened in the past and will likely happen again in the future. The law of averages in weather:

Normal = ((Negative Extremes + Positive Extremes) / Number of Events)

There is no such thing as “normal” weather. While droughts and floods may be slow moving and “boring” though, they are costly, miserable disasters.

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Hurricane Season Ends, European Chill, Cool Video, Quake Off Jersey

Well, I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving and holiday weekend, did their shopping, etc. Back in California after a fun leg of flights today over the large storm system swirling in the middle of the country. More on that shortly. First, let’s catch up on some of the more interesting stories from the last week or so…

2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season Storm Tracks - courtesy NOAA

2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season Ends

First and foremost, today is November 30th, which is the last day of the Atlantic Hurricane season. That isn’t to say more storms can’t form, but in terms of statistics, this season is done. How did we do?

19 Named Storms
12 Hurricanes
5 Major (Cat 3+) Hurricanes

Normal is 11, 6 and 2 respectively. Here’s the official NOAA press release on the season. The season ends up tied for the 3rd most active on record (1887, 1995), and it ties for the second most hurricanes on record (1969). The money quote from the release (in my opinion):

“Large-scale climate features strongly influenced this year’s hurricane activity, as they often do. This year, record warm Atlantic waters, combined with the favorable winds coming off Africa and weak wind shear aided by La Niña energized developing storms. The 2010 season continues the string of active hurricane seasons that began in 1995.

But short-term weather patterns dictate where storms actually travel and in many cases this season, that was away from the United States. The jet stream’s position contributed to warm and dry conditions in the eastern U.S. and acted as a barrier that kept many storms over open water. Also, because many storms formed in the extreme eastern Atlantic, they re-curved back out to sea without threatening land.”

KTRK-TV in Houston compares some of the seasonal forecasts.

Some more perspective on the season and hurricanes in general, including a neat satellite derived rainfall map from this season.

Overall,  I think this season is going to go down in the books as a bust in general, namely because the U.S. was spared a hurricane hit for the fifth straight year, despite the hyperactive nature of the season. But the forecasts were very well done for the most part this season, and frankly, I don’t know that you can ask for much more than that, given our limited ability to predict weather and climate.

So what about next year? It’s obviously way down the line and there’s little skill in trying to make a forecast this far out. But, if you look at a couple of key El Nino area forecast, the ECMWF and the IRI, both indicate (an implied and/or average) weak La Nina persisting into next summer. Should that hold together, that would be one factor that would would favor another busier than normal season. Whether it’s even remotely as busy as this year…or busy at all…remains to be seen though. But that just gives you an idea.

Lastly with the tropics, some new online maps are available, indicating flood vulnerability along the coast due to storm surge. If you click the link in the article and tool around with the maps, some of them are interesting. Bottom line, there are a LOT of vulnerable places on this country’s coast to storm surge flooding.

Mildly similarly related…

There was an interesting article published in Friday’s New York Times about how Norfolk, VA is handling frequent bouts of tidal flooding.

Some cool video came out of last week’s big Western storm. This video was courtesy of Dale Ireland in Silverdale, WA (originally published in Cliff Mass’ Washington weather blog). Then of course, there was this priceless video from Seattle last week:

Here’s a radar loop from the snow in Seattle last week as well:

That Seattle snow made it to Salt Lake City last Tuesday, and here’s some really cool time lapse video of the snow rolling in, and a slower video that shows basically a wall of angry weather arriving:

Interesting AccuWeather blog post today about how the West is seeing absolutely phenomenal early season ski conditions…some of the best in years. It has been stormy…and it’s also been cold, helping a lot of ski resorts add more white gold to their slopes. Absolutely great conditions out West this year. Here’s an article on how citrus growers in Central California have been protecting their crops.

Cold in Europe

This winter is behaving (in some regards) oddly similarly to last winter. If you remember last winter, the US and Europe had it especially rough. Well, Europe is off to the races this winter too.

A few inches of snow for London…and a lot of travel disruptions.

The snow is disrupting school and life in the UK.

This follows some of the coldest November temperatures on record in the UK over the weekend!

Sweden is also seeing some of their coldest November weather in years.

The Eastern US will taste some cold weather, sort of driven by similar factors (and relatively, not nearly as cold) as we go through the next ten days or so. The pattern will also be ripe for the potential for at least some snow. More on that in coming days.

A few final things today.

USGS "Did You Feel It?" Map from today's 3.9 magnitude earthquake off Long Island.

From the head scratch department, dust storms can occur in the Arctic…and there’s an interesting driver behind them.

A 3.9 magnitude earthquake occurred around 10:45 AM today, about 120 miles ESE of New York City. The details on the quake are here. A ton of “Did You Feel It?” reports were received by the USGS from Long Island, New England, and New Jersey. Anyone notice this today?

And finally, in what is the most painful story of the day, another tornado hit Yazoo City, MS this morning. If you recall, Yazoo City was hit by a devastating EF-4 tornado back in April that killed 10 and injured dozens. From what I’ve read thus far, there were six injuries from this morning’s storm. More details if I get them.

More on some of the upcoming weather in the next couple days as I get myself caught back up on things after the extended weekend.

A Rational Review of a Rational Discussion

Some more coming out from yesterday’s Rational Discussion on Climate Change on Capitol Hill. A couple of blog postings and other info from yesterday…

Dr. Judith Curry offers some suggestions for how the science-policy interface should work. They’re very sensible, and sadly, to me, represent a common sense approach to this…something that’s been severely lacking in this debate all along. Another “skeptic” of anthropogenic global warming, Dr. Richard Lindzen, a decorated atmospheric physicist from MIT offered his own take. Lindzen states:

However, my personal hope is that we will return to normative science, and try to understand how the climate actually behaves. Our present approach of dealing with climate as completely specified by a single number, globally averaged surface temperature anomaly, that is forced by another single number, atmospheric CO2levels, for example, clearly limits real understanding; so does the replacement of theory by model simulation.

Some very sensible commentary. Lindzen’s testimony is worth a read, as he delves into some very strong counter-opinions to what is standard climate change belief. And Lindzen (or Dr. Curry) isn’t a typical “rogue” scientist…his opinions carry serious clout.

An article in the Orange County Register today discusses how alarmism may have polluted climate science enough to cause it to backfire and lose popular support. I agree 100% with this. I described a few entries ago how I believe this “science is settled” mantra is unfair and is the undertone for the entire climate science debate. As a scientist, I can attest to the fact that most of us are absolutely dreadful communicators. Most scientists do not know (some notable exceptions do exist) how to explain their research in simple terms that the average person can understand and NOT come off as smug, elitist, or…to a lot of people…frankly, annoying. There’s a significant communication gap between climate science, policy, and the public. And as I have previously stated, it is the job of climate scientists to not be policy advocates, but to explain their research. And it would do a world of good if colleges and universities require basic communications classes for scientists. The clearer and more approachable scientists become, the more likely the public is to not raise an eyebrow with everything they say. Skepticism is good for climate science, as it challenges what have been unchecked beliefs. Meteorology is an inexact science. Climate science is rooted in meteorology to a large degree. The processes driving weather vs. climate aren’t always the same, but the result of uncertainty and doubt at the end of the day still exists.

The bottom line on this: I hope we can continue to engage in a rational debate on climate change…with both sides being open minded to each other’s viewpoints and ideas…and hopefully absent of policy.

Damage in Baltimore from a macroburst and EF-1 tornado, image credit: NWS Sterling, VA: http://www.erh.noaa.gov/er/lwx/events/svrwx_20101117/

In other news….

The NWS confirmed an EF-1 tornado and larger macroburst in Baltimore, MD from yesterday. Here’s some links on it:

AccuWeather has some decent imagery and a brief synopsis.

The NWS has a full page of damage photos and information from the event.

So a very active November day in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic piles on some more!

Elsewhere, a good read from the Capital Weather Gang on this hurricane season and where it stands historically (starting to get to the recap mode of hurricane season now…expect more of these in the coming days).

Also, a new faultline has been uncovered in the Rocky Mountains in Idaho…apparently capable of producing a 7.5 magnitude earthquake…scary stuff. Fortunately it’s a relatively sparsely populated area, but still certainly worth noting…and it makes you wonder what else we don’t know about!

One last bit of cool weather news: Fairbanks, AK shattered their highest barometric pressure reading of all-time yesterday. It actually was such high pressure that it forced an aircraft to divert! The air pressure was so high, it made reading the plane’s altimeter exceedingly difficult. So a plane was diverted because of…good weather? It can happen. We’ve had a significant amount of low pressure records set this year…so this is an intriguing change-up. The PNS from Fairbanks on the 1051 mb pressure is below:

445 PM AKST WED NOV 17 2010