WunderBlog Archive » Category 6™

Category 6 has moved! See the latest from Dr. Jeff Masters and Bob Henson here.

The U.S. Summer is Off to a Record-Hot Start

By: Bob Henson and Jeff Masters 4:58 PM GMT on July 12, 2016

Last month was the warmest June in 122 years of U.S. recordkeeping, beating out June 1933, according to the monthly climate roundup released on Wednesday by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). Each of the 48 contiguous states came in above its average temperature for June, with Arizona and Utah setting all-time June records for heat. Thirteen other states had a top-ten-warmest June, stretching across the nation from California to Florida.


Figure 1. Statewide rankings for average temperature during June 2016, as compared to each June since 1895. Darker shades of orange indicate higher rankings for warmth, with 1 denoting the coldest month on record and 122 the warmest. Image credit: NOAA/NCEI.


Figure 2. Statewide rankings for average precipitation during June 2016, as compared to each June since 1895. Darker shades of green indicate higher rankings for moisture, with 1 denoting the driest month on record and 122 the wettest. Image credit: NOAA/NCEI.

The nation’s biggest weather calamity of June was the catastrophic flash flood in West Virginia that took at least 23 lives and destroyed more than 1500 homes. In contrast, the month as a whole was marked by unusual dryness across most of the country: it was the 14th driest of the 122 Junes on record. Only one state (Wyoming) had a top-ten-driest June, but the general lack of moisture was most evident across the northern Great Basin, the northern and central Great Plains, and the states from New Jersey and Pennsylvania northeastward. Grand Island, Nebraska, saw just 0.05” of rain, smashing its dry-June record of 0.43” from 1922.

Could this end up as the hottest summer in U.S. history?
In line with a global climate that’s being warmed by greenhouse gases, the contiguous United States has seen six of its ten warmest summers on record in just the last 15 years. On that basis alone, 2016 has a reasonable shot at becoming our hottest summer yet, especially with the head start provided by a record-warm June. On the other hand, there is plenty of inherent variability from week to week and month to month, even in weather that’s averaged across the country.


Figure 3. Top ten hottest summers (June-August) for contiguous U.S., with the rankings of each month and the summer as a whole for the period 1895-2015 (1 = hottest). Data courtesy NOAA/NCEI.

At right, Figure 3 shows how each month played out during our ten warmest summers on record. Each of those blazing summers had at least one month that fell below the top-ten list for that respective month, showing how difficult it is to maintain the kind of unusual warmth we saw in June for an entire summer.


Figure 4. Departures from average temperature (anomalies) across the contiguous U.S. for the period July 1-10, 2016. Image credit: NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

As shown in Figure 4 (right), the first third of July was relatively cool across the Pacific Northwest, Midwest, and New England, with above-average heat continuing across the South and much of the West. This week should continue on the mild side across the northern U.S. as an unusually potent upper-level low for midsummer progresses eastward. This low has already generated a wild variety of weather over the last several days, including a round of torrential rains, flash floods, and tornadoes on Monday centered in Minnesota and Wisconsin. A phenomenal 24-hour rainfall total of 10” reported on Tuesday morning at Wascott, WI, isn’t too far from the state’s 24-hour record of 11.72”, set in 1946. The storms were fueled by extremely high amounts of atmospheric moisture: the dew point at Sioux Falls, SD, hit 82°F on Monday, apparently setting a new all-time record high dew point for the city (h/t to Minnesota meteorologist Paul Douglas for this statistic). On its way to the Midwest, the upper low delivered a blitz of accumulating snowfall and freezing temperatures to the northern Rockies, including parts of Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons above 7000 feet.

As for next week, the ECMWF and GFS models have been remarkably consistent on developing a very strong upper-level high sprawling across much of the nation during the latter half of July. It’s too soon to know exactly how fierce the heat will be, or where its epicenter will be located, but the models suggest that temperatures may challenge the 100°F mark as far north as the Dakotas by later next week, with 90s enveloping most of the nation east of the Rockies for what could be an extended period. The 8-14 day outlook from the NWS Weather Prediction Center shows high odds for above-average temperatures over the entire contiguous U.S. except for the Pacific Northwest, with odds favoring below-average precipitation for most of the Plains and mid-South. If the heat manifests as expected, it may be enough to counterbalance the northern mildness so far in July and keep 2016 in the running for warmest U.S. summer on record, particularly if August stays on the hot side.


Figure 5. An ominous cloud associated with fast-moving thunderstorms sweeps across Aberdeen, South Dakota, on Monday, July 11, 2016. Image credit: wunderphotographer stuswan.


Figure 6. Enhanced infrared image of Hurricane Celia (left) and the smaller Tropical Storm Darby (right) as of 1530Z (11:30 AM EDT) Tuesday, July 12, 2016. Image credit: NOAA/NESDIS.

Celia weakens; Darby develops
The procession of tropical cyclones across the eastern North Pacific that began with the formation of Tropical Storm Agatha on July 2, followed by Hurricane Blas (named on July 3) and Hurricane Celia (named on July 8), continued on Tuesday morning with the formation of Tropical Storm Darby. As of 11 AM EDT Tuesday, Darby was located about 500 miles south of the southern tip of Baja California, moving west at 10 mph with top sustained winds of 40 mph. Although it will be heading west atop very warm sea-surface temperatures, Darby may also encounter cold water churned up in the wake of Hurricanes Blas and Celia. The National Hurricane Center outlook brings Darby to Category 1 strength by Friday, then weakens it by the weekend.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Celia is now a Category 1 storm, located about 1300 miles west-southwest of southern Baja California as of 11 AM EDT Tuesday, with top sustained winds of 90 mph. Celia topped out as a Category 2 hurricane with peak winds of 100 mph on Monday night. Now angling toward the northwest at 12 mph, Celia is expected to gradually bend back westward while slowly weakening over cooler waters during the next couple of days. Based on long-range runs of the GFS and ECMWF models, there is still a chance that a weakened Celia or its remnants could pass just north of the Hawaiian Islands early next week, bringing some high surf and a chance of squalls, but it is too soon to assign any confidence to this possibility.

Both the European and GFS models show an area of disturbed weather will develop several hundred miles southwest of the coast of Mexico by the end of this week, and this disturbance has the potential to intensify into a tropical storm over the weekend. In their 8 am EDT Tuesday Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave this future disturbance 2-day and 5-day odds of development of 0% and 60%, respectively. Both Darby and the next potential storm (which would be named Estelle) are expected to follow paths similar to Agatha, Blas, and Celia--generally west to west-northwest, away from Mexico. If the Eastern Pacific manages to spit out a Tropical Storm Frank before the end of the month--which is quite possible, given the long-range forecasts of the continued presence of the MJO over the Eastern Pacific into the end of July--this would give us six named storms for the month, which would approach the July record (from 1985) of seven named storms forming in the Eastern Pacific, according to NHC hurricane scientist Eric Blake.

Bob Henson and Jeff Masters

Hurricane Climate Summaries Heat

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

Quoting 482. MahFL:
Hmmm, MJO in the western Atlantic by tomorrow ?



So MJO is represented by the orange and red colors?
JeffMasters has created a new entry.
Quoting 500. Patrap:

Breaking,Trump picks Indiana Gov. Mike Pence for V P.


within that statement holds many of them :)
Quoting 486. Loduck:

Has anybody checked to see if the earth has gotten closer to the sun or vice-versa? I dunno how much more stress my garden can take. NO rain since Colin and not much even with that and it is hell hot here in NE Fl


Closest approach to the sun occurs in the Northern Hemisphere's winter. That's a 3.1 million mile difference between winter and summer for the USA. January 2 was closest approach, and July 4 was the farthest from the Sun that the Earth gets.
Thunderstorms inbound for Nashville. Have to go bring the camera inside. Mom's Scarlet Hibiscus of the Rose Mallow started blooming. One flower came out yesterday. Really pretty.

Quoting 497. ChiThom:



The Germans are working it without us... and the Dutch, and the Danes, not to mention the Chinese... even the Arabs who are sitting atop all the oil are investing in solar energy! You said "We all have to work together..." so what's wrong with us in this picture? What's wrong with U.S.?


Whats wrong with the US?
We just want to throw a lot of imaginary money around and talk like we are doing something
No game plan, and with the way that we structure our legislation I dont see anything credible happening in the near future
Quoting 479. MahFL:



I was not talking about any time period, I do actually believe in global warming, but I think the so called problems it brings are often over exaggerated. Indeed the experts cannot even agree on how much sea level rise would occur.



Where is this disagreement? Different methods do produce different results, but they add to a dynamic understanding of sea level rise with a range. BY definition, the longer the projection, the larger the range of probability. If we had measurements from the future, I'm sure we would use them. Currently, SLR is at the top end of IPCC projections.
Quoting 490. NativeSun:

Sorry, but the climate changes all the time, and humans are a part of the problem. 7 Billion people on a planet is not good for anything, so yes we humans to help with the problems, but how much is only a guess. What I want to know is how much the sun affects the ocean temps, lets say over a few thousand years, and how long does it take to release this heat from the oceans, after all it's the oceans that control the atmosphere, and world wide temps.


You continue to display a base lack of understanding of how the system works. For the oceans, "a paper published in Nature Geoscience by Andrew Schurer, Simon Tett, and Gabriele Hegerl investigates the sun's influence on global climate changes over the past 1,000 years. Although we know the sun can't be causing the current global warming because solar activity has declined slightly over the past 50 years, "it's the sun" nevertheless remains one of the most popular climate contrarian arguments. However, in recent years, research has pointed in the direction of a relatively small solar impact on the Earth's climate changes.

It's important to realize that while the Earth is bombarded by a lot of heat from the sun, the amount of solar energy reaching the planet is relatively stable. According to the best recent estimates, it's only increased by about 0.1 percent over the past 300 years, causing a radiative forcing less than 10 percent as large as the human-caused forcing over that period."

and

"Over the last 3 decades the sun has seen a very slight decrease in the amount of solar radiation it puts out. In spite of this, there has been a tremendous build-up of heat in the ocean (see Figure 2), especially the deep ocean (Levitus [2012], Nuccitelli [2012], Balmaseda [2013]). Given that the heating of the oceans is almost entirely due to sunlight (in the form of shortwave radiation) entering the surface layers, this raises the question of how this ocean warming is possible. Why are the oceans warming so much when the main source of heat input into the upper ocean has diminished slightly?

As discussed in this SkS post, and the Real Climate post by Professor Peter Minnett it is based upon, the oceans are warming due to an increase in the greenhouse effect. The oceans are heated from sunlight entering the surface, and because they are typically warmer than the overlying air, the net flow of heat is from the warmer surface ocean to the cooler atmosphere above. Turbulence is suppressed at the ocean-atmosphere boundary, so heat has to travel through a conductive layer within the cool-skin - the thin surface layer of ocean in contact with the atmosphere. The rate of heat flow is, therefore, determined by the thermal gradient through the cool-skin layer (Saunders [1967], Grassl [1976].

As additional greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere, they trap more heat (longwave radiation) and reflect more of it back toward the ocean surface. Strong absorption of longwave radiation occurs in the cool-skin, but is compensated by the powerful emission (loss) of longwave radiation to the atmosphere at the ocean surface (e.g. Konda [2004]) This blocks heat from reaching the ocean below the cool-skin, but it does warm the upper portion of the cool-skin layer and the thermal gradient through the layer is therefore reduced. In doing so, this lowered thermal gradient slows the flow of heat out of the ocean and causes the oceans to grow ever warmer over time. So, in a similar manner to that where greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere by reducing heat lost to space, they carry out a similar function in warming the surface oceans by reducing heat lost to the atmosphere."

In other words, it still aint the sun.

Link
Quoting 434. MahFL:



Remember though the Earth has been a lot warmer than it is now, subtropical forests used to grow in the Arctic.
Now if we had global cooling and a 3 mile high glacier was on top of your house you'd have a lot more to worry about.

Mass migrations of humanity from flooding coastal areas will create huge problems for the future. Just look at the current refugee crisis caused by war in Syria. The evacuation of New Orleans after Katrina had a ripple effect for many states, many cities. Think of the potential effects resulting from the mass exodus of countries like Bangladesh and the low-lying areas of Asia. Do you really think India will welcome 100 million refugees? Do you think they can support 100 million refugees? Do you really think it's all going to be hunky-dory when the population of Miami goes looking for someplace else to live? Then multiply those problems by every coastal city and town around the world that can't find or afford an engineering fix to preserve their location.

Rising waters will cause movement of the masses. That in turn will cause strife. If you don't think such dramatic changes will cause serious problems on a global scale, you have a terrible grasp of history. We will have plenty to worry about when millions and millions of people globally no longer have a place to live.
511. OKsky
Quoting 510. gunhilda:


Mass migrations of humanity from flooding coastal areas will create huge problems for the future. Just look at the current refugee crisis caused by war in Syria. The evacuation of New Orleans after Katrina had a ripple effect for many states, many cities. Think of the potential effects resulting from the mass exodus of countries like Bangladesh and the low-lying areas of Asia. Do you really think India will welcome 100 million refugees? Do you think they can support 100 million refugees? Do you really think it's all going to be hunky-dory when the population of Miami goes looking for someplace else to live? Then multiply those problems by every coastal city and town around the world that can't find or afford an engineering fix to preserve their location.

Rising waters will cause movement of the masses. That in turn will cause strife. If you don't think such dramatic changes will cause serious problems on a global scale, you have a terrible grasp of history. We will have plenty to worry about when millions and millions of people globally no longer have a place to live.


Not to take away anything from your main point which I 100% agree with (or from the tragedy of Katrina), but I think the influx of people from New Orleans is one of the best things I have seen happen to my city for several reasons. (Im in OKC)
Beach cam on Marco Island looking at the storms out in the GOM just off shore S.W. Florida.
513. vis0

Quoting 397. KEEPEROFTHEGATE:

wait till they see 108 later this month into august
[stated with respect to KEEPEROFTHEGATE]

uh yer making the assumption that people today give a hoot. Today  If it reaches 108F...in seconds people will blast On their AC to the area on the AC dial that reads per industrial rev. Arctic temperature.  If their is a brown.or black out they'll not think, just complain.
(i've never had an AC, mom wanted one and at age 80ish i got her a 8k BTU...Dad hates ACs.)

Now 45 + years ago people still had a moral conscience (NOT RELIGIOUS just not lying to themselves as what is right or wrong in a golden rule sort of way.  if you do something to another person if that other person where you would you be upset if "it" was done to you?, If you would be upsweat**** i mean upset then case closed you would not disrespect others, PERIOD.

If it reaches 108F (specially after a previous hot day) in NYc, odds are you'll see a major brown out if lucky, blackout if not lucky as those at control central where too busy playing pokemon go...no i mean GO! get out of here! compu'r generated thing that seems to get more luv/respect than real people.


[stated with respect to KEEPEROFTHEGATE...cause i know  KEEPEROFTHEGATE understands times have changed...hopefully the pendulum will swing** towards a more complete manner of thinking]


**
with the constant sharing of knowledge and that sharing done with respect to all even skeptic$.(try to not get upset when sharing knowledge even if 99 of 100 do not listen, otherwise the focus will shift to ones emotions instead of learning and you'll loose the attention of that 1 person.

**** "upsweat"
though i meant upset watch in 40 years upsweat will have a meaning.  As in its so hot the sweat is running UP my body, thus i'm upsweating.

Why are humans emotions in the past 40-50 yrs on their sleeves (A.D.D. like) read my zilly blog to find out, i might be banned but i'm just trying to alert society of the worst crime in the past 50 yrs. Weather related? once this artificially introduced ADD "problem" is solved humans will begin to pay attention to their conscience and care thus have a higher chance of taking care of their true home sweet home, as you have to get people to FIRST care before they take care of anything.


Quoting 400. KEEPEROFTHEGATE:

city was even having power issues today some areas were browning out blacking out high demand for electric for all the ac's I figure
that worries me what happens if the grid crashes in this heat and all lose ac place will go nuts I will go nuts heat makes me crazy
I don't like the extreme heat either -- it's why I live near the equator (but at an elevation of 4000 feet), where the daytime temps and the nighttime temps are ideal for me: comfy shirt-sleeve days and I sleep under a blanket and a quilt most nights. But it does rain sometimes -- it's thundering right now.
515. ariot
Quoting 490. NativeSun:

Sorry, but the climate changes all the time,



This is the absolute worst pretext to talk about human climate forcing and population.

The climate does not change all the time, unless you view it on a deep time scale.

The climate moves slow enough to guide evolution, unless forced by something like an off world impact or volcanic activity for thousands of years that are the size of Siberia (literally).

I'm glad people like you post missives like that "climate always changes" becuase it shows you are not interested in the scientific method.

Try this one on for size: "Trees grow all the time, a 100 year old oak popped up in my driveway while I was eating dinner."

Or this one: : "I enjoy watching rock weathering while I sip coffee in the morning. It happens all the time. Just today a 400 ton boulder turned to dust as I enjoyed a spot of Sumatra."