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More Extreme Heat (240+ all-time record highs last 2 weeks)

7 Jul 2012, 6:29 am

240 all-time record highs, nationwide, in the last 2 weeks. By all-time I mean the hottest ever observed for that city.
42,678 warm weather records since January 1, nationwide.
6,013 cold weather records since January 1. Source NOAA NCDC.

Record Highs. NOAA reports over 2,000 record highs in the last week. For an interactive map from Ham Weather click here.

Extended Outlook: Hot Enough. No more 100-degree heat is in sight, but I suspect we’ll see highs near 90 from Wednesday through Saturday of next week for the upper Midwest. Map: NOAA CPC and Ham Weather.

Cauliflower Cumulus. Bobbi Kelly snapped this photo of the developing squall line over the metro from Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

“Summer of 2012: A Legacy of Heat”. Here is an excerpt from Dr. Mark Seeley’s weekly WeatherTalk blog: “July is continuing a 9-month trend of above normal temperatures in Minnesota. In the Twin Cities Metro Area we have already seen 16 days with daytime highs of 90 degrees F or greater, and 8 nights when the temperature never fell below 70 degrees F. On average (1981-2010) the Twin Cities records 13 days each year with daytime highs of 90 degrees F or greater, and 11 nights when the nighttime temperature does not fall below 70 degrees F. Temperatures are expected to cool next week, but still average somewhat above normal. Lower dewpoints will help freshen the air.”

Saturday Severe Risk. Cooler, Canadian air pushing south into a blazing 100-degree airmass will set off a few severe storms later today from Columbus to Philadelphia, Baltimore and Boston. Map: SPC.

Blast-Furnace Heat Continues. NOAA has issued Excessive Heat Warnings from Madison, Chicago and Detroit eastward to D.C, Philadelphia and most of New Jersey again today. Heat indices will range from 105-115 F. by afternoon.

Historic Derecho. Did global warming make last week’s historic “super-derecho” even more intense and damaging? The Washington Post’s meteorologist Jason Samenow takes a close look at the meteorological conditions leading up to this unprecedented wind storm below.

5-Day Rainfall Forecast. The latest QPF predicts the heaviest rains (2-4″) from the parishes of Louisiana to Nashville and the Outer Banks of North Carolina, more heavy T-storms flaring up near Denver and Colorado Springs, helping firefighters get ahead of the flames, the worst in Colorado history.

Searing Sun And Drought Shrivel Corn In Midwest. Here’s a snippet from a New York Times article about a growing drought gripping the Midwest: “….Crop insurance agents and agricultural economists are watching closely, a few comparing the situation with the devastating drought of 1988, when corn yields shriveled significantly, while some farmers have begun alluding, unhappily, to the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Far more is at stake in the coming pivotal days: with the brief, delicate phase of pollination imminent in many states, miles and miles of corn will rise or fall on whether rain soon appears and temperatures moderate. “It all quickly went from ideal to tragic,” said Don Duvall, a farmer in Illinois who, in what was a virtually rainless June, has watched two of his cornfields dry up and die as others remain in some uncertain in-between.”

* Image above courtesy of NOAA’s Drought Monitor.

Colorado Wildfire Photos: The Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs. The Denver Post has a remarkable photo essay, including some of the most amazing (and heart-breaking) photos I’ve ever seen, related to wildfires. A tornado risk is one thing – but can you imagine a 5 mile wide wall of flames, 100 feet high, approaching your home at 40 mph? “A three-day-old wildfire erupted with catastrophic fury Tuesday, ripping across the foothills neighborhoods of Colorado Springs, devouring an untold number of homes and sending tens of thousands fleeing to safety in what was shaping up as one of the biggest disasters in state history. “This is a firestorm of epic proportions,” said Colorado Springs Fire Chief Richard Brown. The Waldo Canyon fire in El Paso County — which had been growing in the forested hills on the city’s west side — blew into an inferno late in the afternoon, raging over a ridge toward densely populated neighborhoods.”

Photo credit above: “The Waldo Canyon fire burns an entire neighborhood in near the foothills of Colorado Springs, Colo. Tuesday, June 26, 2012. Colorado has endured nearly a week of 100-plus-degree days and low humidity, sapping moisture from timber and grass, creating a devastating formula for volatile wildfires across the state and punishing conditions for firefighters.” (The Denver Post, Helen H. Richardson)

Colorado’s Perfect Firestorm. Here’s a snippet of an extraordinary article at The Los Angeles Times, trying to put the recent Colorado fires into some sort of long-term historical perspective: “Last week, my parents had to pack their belongings and flee as the Waldo Canyon fire barreled toward their house in Colorado Springs. They were among 32,000 people forced from their houses by the fire, which has destroyed nearly 350 homes. My parents were lucky. Despite the trauma and fear of having to evacuate, they didn’t lose their home. But the fire emphasized something of a long-running debate between my father and me: the reality and politics of climate change. I am a political scientist who studies climate policy and adaptation, and the intersection between climate science and politics. My father is also a scientist — a nuclear engineer. But he’s always been a bit skeptical about climate change. Though he’s not a full-on doubter, he also hasn’t fully embraced the idea that the planet is warming in ways that could be devastating, and that this change is the result of human activity. Events like the Waldo Canyon fire may make him and other climate skeptics easier to convince.”

Derecho In D.C.: Science And Surprise. Here is a comprehensive look at the “super-derecho” that tracked nearly 800 miles, whipping up straight-line winds over 90 mph at times, knocking out power to millions of Americans. There was only a few hours advance-warning. What are these freak storms, how and why do they form? Why are computer models often ineffective predicting these swirling, boomerang-shaped swarms of severe storms? Some answers from NCAR/UCAR AtmosNews: “With a ferocity to match the record heat it displaced, a thunderstorm complex raced from Illinois to the Delaware coast in a mere 12 hours on Friday evening, June 29. It knocked down countless trees and power lines, with wind gusts topping 80 miles per hour in many spots. It threw millions of people into turmoil, with air conditioners, computers, and phones out for days. And it brought to light a weather word du jour with an obscure but intriguing history… By morning, though, the signals were starting to come together in data from radiosondes (weather balloons) and forecasts from weather models, which increasingly pointed toward a storm complex moving from the Midwest toward the Appalachians. Derechos seldom cross the Appalachians intact, which keeps D.C.-area forecasters cautious about forecasting such a leap. Indeed, a storm complex that produced 80 to 90 mph winds in Chicago on Sunday, 1 July, fizzled en route. But on June 29, the extreme warmth and depth of the air mass, plus energy from the jet stream, kept the derecho powerful all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.”

Photo credit above: “A shelf cloud, forced upward by strong winds behind it, marks the front edge of the destructive derecho that moved from Illinois to the Atlantic Ocean on June 29, 2012. (Photo from NASA Earth Observatory, courtesy Kevin Gould and NOAA.)”

Did Global Warming Intensify The Derecho In Washington D.C.? Here’s an excerpt of a fascinating article from meteorologist Jason Samenow at The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang, attempting to connect the dots between supercharged heat/humidity and the subsequent super-derecho that struck with little warning: “The June 29 derecho, which caused widespread damage in Washington, D.C. blossomed to full fury in a record hot environment. Could the heat added to the atmosphere from manmade greenhouse gases have provided extra fuel to this explosive storm? The amount of energy available to this storm was extreme and, wundergound weather historian Chris Burt called the number of all-time heat records set around the time “especially extraordinary.” But as I wrote the day after the storm, connecting global warming to the derecho is a complicated and controversial question.”

Photo credit above: “Infrared satellite image of derecho over Washington, D.C.” (CIMMS Satellite blog)

Derecho Climatology. Thanks to Cory Mottice and Everything WX and twitpic for passing this along.

Natural Disasters On The Rise. The trend lines may be a combination of climate change turbocharging storms and land-use demographics: more people living in vulnerable areas (along the coasts and next to rivers). Graphic: Munich Re.

Photo Of The Day: “Mamma”. A shout-out to Tyler Smelley down in Tuscaloosa, Alabama for a perfect example of cumulonimbus mammatus. Those ice scream scoop clouds on the underside of the thunderhead anvil are evidence of hail in the upper reaches of the storm.

Good Point. But can we find a happy medium between 2 feet of snow and 102 F? Thanks Nancy.



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Welcome to the WeatherNation blog. Every day I sift through hundreds of stories, maps, graphics and meteorological web sites, trying to capture some of the most interesting weather nuggets, the stories behind the forecast. I’ll link to stories and share some of the web sites I use. I’m still passionate about the weather, have been ever since Tropical Storm Agnes flooded my home in Lancaster, PA in 1972. I’ve started 5 weather-related companies. “EarthWatch” created the world’s first 3-D weather graphics for TV stations – Steven Spielberg used our software in “Jurassic Park” and “Twister”. My last company, “Digital Cyclone”, personalized weather for cell phones. “My-Cast” was launched in 2001 and is still going strong on iPhone, Android and Blackberry. I sold DCI to Garmin in 2007 so I could focus on my latest venture: WeatherNation. I also write a daily weather column for The Star Tribune And if you’re on Twitter, you’ll find me @pdouglasweather

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