Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:16 PM GMT on July 22, 2006
Record heat has gripped much of the U.S. this week. The heat is currently most intense in the Desert Southwest, where yesterday Phoenix recorded its fourth highest temperature of all time, 118 F. Needles, California hit a record 120 yesterday, and the temperature topped out at 123 F in Death Valley--only 13 degrees cooler than the world record 136 F measured in El Azizia, Libya, in 1922. The heat should continue for another week in the Southwest, before a shift in the jet stream pattern brings more normal temperatures to the region late next week.
The heat is on in Europe, too
Europe has seen its own record heat wave this week. Britain broke its all-time July temperature record, with a 98 F (36.5 C) temperature recorded at the Royal Horticultural Society's gardens at Wisley in Surrey. This bested the previous record for July, 36 C, set in Epsom in 1911. Belgium also recorded its hottest July day ever, 99 F (37 C) on July 19. Paris and Berlin both recorded 102 F (39 C) on July 20. However, the 2006 heat wave has caused far fewer deaths than the intense heat wave of 2003 that killed over 35,000 people. The 2006 heat wave has claimed 20 victims in France, 2 in Spain, and 4 in Germany and the Netherlands. Much of the reduced death toll can be credited to better preparation learned from the 2003 heat wave.
The heat, combined with drought, has reduced the amount of cooling water available to cool the nuclear reactors in Germany and France, forcing those plants to cut back on electricity production. In Italy, hydroelectric power generation has been reduced due to the drought.
Warmest January through June ever in U.S.
The National Climatic Data Center reports that the June 2006 was the 2nd warmest June on record, and the first half of 2006 was the warmest in the United States since record keeping began in 1895. The average temperature for the 48 contiguous United States from January through June was 51.8�F, or 3.4�F above average for the 20th century. Globally, June was also the 2nd warmest June on record, and the period January through June was the 6th warmest such period on record.
Watching the tropics
There are no areas of disturbed weather to talk about the tropical Atlantic today, and none of the computer models are forecasting any development for the coming week.
The main action this week will be in the Eastern Pacific, where we have my favorite type of hurricane--a huge, spectacular Category 4 (almost 5) storm that is no threat to land. Daniel joins May's Typhoon Chanchu as the only Category 4/5 tropical cyclones in the Northern Hemisphere so far this year. Daniel could threaten Hawaii late next week, but the storm will probably be a weak tropical storm by that point, due to passage over cooler waters.
Latest satellite image of Hurricane Daniel
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