Weather Channel asks, “July in April?”

Record smashing heat-wave hits nation

CP:  So it’s friggin’ hot in DC and much of the country.

Audience:  How hot is it?

CP:  It’s so hot that:

  • I saw a dog chasing a cat and they were both walkin’.
  • The robins are laying their eggs sunny side up.
  • I saw squirrels fanning their nuts.
  • Even meteorologists are doing stories about human-caused global warming.

Settle down, anti-science disinformers who try to shout down any talk of a link between climate change and extreme weather — these are only jokes.  We all know that you can’t use a single weather event as evidence for or against climate change — unless of course that weather event is a big snowstorm [see “Massive moisture-driven extreme precipitation during warmest winter in the satellite record “” and the disinformers say it disproves (!) climate science].

What people should be talking about are record highs versus record lows across the country.  The figure above comes from a Weather Channel post by Jonathan Erdman, “July or April? Spring skipped?“:

To the south of this front, temperatures had soared into the 80s and, yes, 90s in many locations, shattering daily record highs.  In fact, according to the National Climatic Data Center, in the seven-day period from March 29 through April 4, over 1100 daily record highs were either tied or broken in the nation!

Now that is a heat wave!

The data in the top graphic might remind you of this figure from a must-read 2009 study led by National Center for Atmospheric Research (see “Record high temperatures far outpace record lows across U.S.“):


This graphic shows the ratio of record daily highs to record daily lows observed at about 1,800 weather stations in the 48 contiguous United States from January 1950 through September 2009. Each bar shows the proportion of record highs (red) to record lows (blue) for each decade. The 1960s and 1970s saw slightly more record daily lows than highs, but in the last 30 years record highs have increasingly predominated, with the ratio now about two-to-one for the 48 states as a whole.  (©UCAR, graphic by Mike Shibao.)

NCAR begins its release on this study:

Spurred by a warming climate, daily record high temperatures occurred twice as often as record lows over the last decade across the continental United States, new research shows. The ratio of record highs to lows is likely to increase dramatically in coming decades if emissions of greenhouse gases continue to climb.

“Climate change is making itself felt in terms of day-to-day weather in the United States,” says Gerald Meehl, the lead author and a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). “The ways these records are being broken show how our climate is already shifting.”

It’d be nice if the Weather Channel would say something close to that or at least mention the NCAR study if not the overall warming trend.  Instead the piece opens with this:

To get a feel for what’s going on in the world’s weather, meteorologists look at weather patterns, namely, the juxtaposition of dips and rises in the jet stream that dictate the weather we feel here on the surface.

Yes, as we know, for many if not most weather reporters, it’s all just one of the greatest coincidences in human history (see “In yet another front-page journalistic lapse, the NY Times once again equates non-scientists “” Bastardi, Coleman, and Watts (!) “” with climate scientists” and “Is that airlifted snow on your Olympic ski mountain, or is your enormous helicopter just happy to see me?“)

Sadly, for the rest of us, assuming we keep doing what we’re doing, which is to say, nothing, NCAR predicts (and yes, they use the word “predictions” not “projections”):

The modeling results indicate that if nations continue to increase their emissions of greenhouse gases in a “business as usual” scenario, the U.S. ratio of daily record high to record low temperatures would increase to about 20-to-1 by mid-century and 50-to-1 by 2100.

In short, if you like the current heat wave, you ain’t seen nothing yet (see Our hellish future: Definitive NOAA-led report on U.S. climate impacts warns of scorching 9 to 11°F warming over most of inland U.S. by 2090 with Kansas above 90°F some 120 days a year “” and that isn’t the worst case, it’s business as usual!“)

h/t WAG.

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53 Responses to Weather Channel asks, “July in April?”

  1. Ronald says:

    Northestern Minnesota has the earliest ice-out on the lakes in recorded history; by 7 days.
    It’s hard to blame the city heat island effect or the new thermometers compared to the old thermometers for that.

  2. MarkB says:

    The extreme negative Arctic Oscillation that dominated most of the winter, bringing Arctic air far south, is back to neutral conditions.

    The Weather Channel needs to update their data. Including one more day brings a net increase of about 350 (370 record highs – 20 record lows).,mintemp,lowmax,highmin

    What effect does this have on Joe Bastardi’s patented “population weighted temperature” index?

    I’m not sure what part of the country/world global warming deniers can focus on now. Arctic sea ice extent has had a temporary upward blip (which is common in any year), so that’s one spot. The west coast has had below average temperatures.

  3. From Peru says:

    It is not just in the USA that is hot:

    (mother site:

    The hottest anomalies are, as usual, in the Arctic Basin, where are between +3ºC and +20(!)ºC

    There are also strong warm anomalies in Canada (+5 to +10ºC), central Asia (+5 to +10ºC), and Antartica (+10 to +15ºC).

    What will the deniers say now?

  4. dhogaza says:

    What will the deniers say now?

    Rural Heat Island Effect?

  5. PSU Grad says:

    “What people should be talking about are record highs versus record lows across the country. ”

    I disagree. To me, looking only at the record highs and lows focuses undue attention on the weather “drama queens”. Yes, the data are significant. But I like to think that average daily temperatures 5, 6, 7, 8, or more degrees above normal, day after day, week after week, without setting either record highs or lows, can be just as significant. And that’s what some of us have had for the past 5 weeks.

    To put it another way, let’s look at caloric intake. Most stuff themselves on Thanksgiving with well over their daily caloric requirement. But it’s only one day and the long term effect isn’t usually very significant, since your body has ways of dealing with these binges.

    Alternatively, if you need 2,000 daily calories but take in 2,100 daily calories each day, you’ll gain about 10 pounds in a year. It won’t look like much on a daily basis (after all, 100 calories is “nothing”), but after a year it adds up. So you either need to increase the 2,000 calorie requirement through exercise, or reduce the 2,100 calorie intake by eating less or differently.

    Those innocent looking excess 100 daily calories seem more dangerous to me.

    [JR: Yes, but the two are connected — and NCDC tracks one of them.]

  6. MapleLeaf says:

    It is not just the eastern half of the USA and Canada which are experiencing way above average temperatures.

    Global MSU satellite temperature data for March (from RSS) were the warmest on record.

    [JR: Near global — it misses the polls.]

  7. MapleLeaf says:

    From Peru @3, thanks for the links, although it is probably best to look at at least monthly data:

    Here are the global anomalies for the last,



    and 365 days:

    Apart from Eurasia, most of the globe has been experiencing much above average temperatures.

    Also, this is a pretty neat site, does not say much for one forecast period, but step though the last month and a very consistent picture (of global warmth) emerges.

  8. MapleLeaf says:

    In other cheering(sarc) news, and more evidence of the warming,

    I apologise for (most of) the comments posted there by my fellow Canadians– there is a loyal bandit of denialist trolls who have taken over the CBC forums and descend en mass every time a story remotely related to AGW is posted; I long ago gave up trying to dismiss the myths and misinformation there. Don’t take the thumbs up and thumbs down counts too seriously either, both sides have figured out how to manipulate the ‘voting’.

    That said, feel free to add your opinion. Have to register though.

  9. Herman Leben says:

    It is 40 degrees colder today. 20 degrees below normal. I knew it would change quickly.

  10. mike roddy says:

    Don’t worry, Anthony Watts has got this covered. It’s not the CO2: it’s the “Young Sun” theory. He posts a graph showing increasing solar heat, and even opines about paleoclimates.

    Good for comic relief, in other words.

  11. The focus on daily highs is short-sighted. Washington has just had its warmest first week in April in at least 80 years by over 4°, but without setting a single daily record (except at the shorter-history Dulles Airport)! See the data here.

    [JR: Not “short-sighted” but perhaps incomplete. However, these records are easier to find — plus the encompass many more stations. I’d also like to see the records for highest daily minimum.]

  12. MapleLeaf says:

    Mike @10,

    WUWT are too funny. Here is a recent post from last November when they were drawing parallels between the then quiet sun and the onset of another Maunder Minimum,

    And another post:

    There are quite posts on the site which embellish this angle. Dang, I just gave his site another hit or two.

    In another post Watts predicts that “we are in for some colder times” b/c of GCR activity associated with the recent prolonged “quiet” spell of the sun.

    He needs to be reminded of these posts and other posts.

    Anyhow, a recent paper has showed that even if we were to enter a Maunder-like minimum it would have very little impact on countering the predicted (significant) warming in coming decades.

    It could all be moot because NASA has stated that we are very likely not in for a Maunder-min like period,

    Sorry for all the links (here and above) Joe, I’m probably setting off your spam filter!

    [JR: You did. Next time, just omit the full link to WUWWT.]

  13. Steve Bloom says:

    Re #6: ML, it looks to be the warmest March in the RSS record but only the fourth highest month overall since there are three higher monthly anomalies in early 1998. My understanding is that the satellite data tends to exaggerate El Nino temps relative to the surface records, and as we know 1998 was the mother of all recent El Ninos. Noting that the 1998 anomalies pretty much crashed after April as the El Nino sputtered out, it’s easy to see why there’s increasing confidence that 2010 will set a new global record.

  14. Steve Bloom says:

    Re #9: But isn’t it reasonable to expect that both effects will tend to go hand-in-hand across a region if not at each location within a region?

  15. Leif says:

    Report from the North West. Yes, it has currently been windy, stormy and cool, bringing much needed snow to the mountains. Winter snow pack is summer drinking water. Liquid water tends to drain quickly from steep mountains. Recall that January and February were record warm with some days almost 30 F above normal.

    Think global climatic disruption. We have only warmed the earth by about 1C overall but the energy required to accomplish that feat on a global scale is enormous. Pushing all “Weather” toward more vigorous responses. As both predicted and projected.

  16. mark says:

    “[JR: Near global — it misses the polls.]”

    Pun intended?

    [JR: Uhh, yes, that’s the ticket! Darn voice dictation system!]

  17. Douglas says:

    I like the “record daily highs” measure. It’s simple / very easy to grasp. In our hyper-competitive culture “breaking daily records” will get more attention then talking about longer averages (where you can play around with the time period). Well, IMHO.

  18. David says:

    #3 From Peru:

    The deniers already have this one covered. They have conveniently turned their attention away from the record breaking temperatures to the arctic sea ice which is only a “little” below normal.

    [sarcasm]Of course, according to Anthony Watts and other pseudoscientists, arctic sea ice isn’t affected by global warming anyways – it’s all wind and ocean currents, so I don’t see why they’re placing so much emphasis on it.[/end sarcasm]

    On an aside, my hometown has set record highs on six of 7 days this month. I bet you’d have to go back about 7 years to find that many record lows.

  19. johna says:

    People recall from childhood the sort of weather that is typical for Easter morning.
    And what we got this year was much warmer than usual.

    The April 4th date wasn’t late, it lies in the earliest 1/3rd of expected Easter/Passover dates.

    Not proof of globe warming, but a clear symptom of what the future holds.

  20. MapleLeaf says:

    Re Joe Romm’s comment @ 6. You are right Joe. The RSS data go up to 82.5 N and 70.0 S.

    Joe, have you seen this blatant distortion of the facts by Leake?

    [JR: Yes. He is just a serial anti-science disinformer now.]

  21. Paul K2 says:

    MapleLeaf… According to the RSS records you linked to, the last nine month period is warmer than any other 9 month span except for periods including months from the first half of 1998. Too bad this data isn’t extrapolated over the poles.

    The UAH had a record high March, to join 2nd hottest February, and hottest January, November, and September in the UAH dataset. It is quite possible that the UAH 13 month moving average will hit an all time high with the release of the July data… this will require reported anomalies of 0.62 for the next four months.

    [JR: UAH second highest March, Christy tells me. We’ll see what NOAA reports.]

    Of course, I think GISS is the best, because they attempt to cover the entire planet, and the temperatures are at the surface, not extrapolated to the surface (if I understand how the satellite data is used in RSS and UAH). But it is nice to have all the temperature record sets confirming the high global temperature anomalies.

  22. cbp says:

    Down here in Melbourne we’re still waiting for summer to finish, with something like 120 consecutive days above 20 degrees, breaking the previous record of 78 days.

  23. Barry says:

    The USA east and south get record spring cold with record precipitation as snow followed by record spring heat with record precipitation as rain causing record flooding.

    Sound exactly like the kinds of increased energy in our weather systems that climate science has been predicting will occur more and more often.

    Enjoying all this weather whiplashing, Senators?

    Well, if you think that this is the new “normal” then you are very optimistic it won’t be a lot weirder.

    Maybe adding lots more energy to a twitchy system, as we are doing with our fossil fuelling of our weather, isn’t a great idea. Especially when we are doing it with imported, economy-snuffing, expensive oil and shiploads of exported dollars.

    Can we please have a penalty on carbon pollution now?

  24. Paul K2 says:

    Joe, regarding the data on record highs versus record lows- last year you posted some really good forecasts concerning number of days over 90 that areas of the country will experience as AGW kicks in.

    I think this really brings climate impacts home, if we could start talking about four or five months of really hot weather in the Murderer’s Row states; these are Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, where at one time, both sitting senators seem inclined to vote against the energy and climate bill, in spite of the prolonged heat waves forecast for those states.

    Of course the states that will be hit hardest by global heat buildup will be Alaska (loss of permafrost and forest, and coastline), California (loss of snowpack and water), Louisiana and Florida (the two Hell and High Water states). And of course the Big Drought states in the Southwest (New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado) who stand to lose their mountain snowpacks and rely on the Colorado River will have some tough times.

    But I think, after Alaska, California, and the Hell and High water states, the people along Murderer’s Row are going to suffer the most, with heat wave after heat wave. If any of the senators on Murderer’s Row can be reached, and get off the Row, then this would be helpful. Lindsey Graham is trying to take South Carolina off the Row, and North Carolina could be off the Row. Maybe the recent comments by Coburn of Oklahoma could get the Sooners off the Row, in spite of Inhoffe, the worst offender on the Row

    Maybe a set of posts (accompanied by press releases) about what life will be like during the lifetime of the grandchildren of people living in each of these groups of states would be helpful. This would push the timeframe out to 2120 or so…

    Start with the Hell and High Water states, Florida and Louisiana (‘Living through Hell and High Water’), then move to Alaska (‘No Forest, No Fish, and No Ice’), and then address what is in store for California (‘Hell and No Water’).

    Then move onto Murderer’s Row, and talk about what life will be like on the Row for the children and grandchildren of people living in these states; talk about heat wave after heat wave, storms and floods, pestilence and disease… Living in these states could begin resemble life in Africa. The people living on the Row need to hear this.

    I can’t imagine local news stations not picking up stories about the miserable conditions the next generations living on the Row will have to endure…

    Anyway, this is just an idea.

  25. Paul K2 says:

    [JR: UAH second highest March, Christy tells me. We’ll see what NOAA reports.]

    I don’t know what Spencer and Christy are up to…

    Their database shows March ’98 at 0.53 and Mar ’04 at 0.45.

    They just reported UAH for March 2010 at 0.65. According to their own numbers, March not only is the hottest month in the dataset, it is by far the hottest March…

    I am confused.

    [JR: Me too, But the 0.65 isn’t the same number Christy used in an email to me. He pointed me to this: Where is their database?]

  26. Paul K2 says:

    The RSS data also shows March 2010 at 0.652 hotter than March 1998 at 0.586.

    Generally both satellite records agree on this. I also checked the plot of channel 5 versus the 20 year highs (which basically traced 1998 for March), and clearly March 2010 is the hottest in March in the satellite record.

    March 1998 wasn’t even close to March 2010.

  27. MapleLeaf says:

    Joe and PaulK2,

    Some of the confusion may arise from the fact that Spencer and Christy recently applied yet another correction to their data. They are now using v5.3. The value reported for March by Spencer is +0.653 C, see here;

    Paul, the satellite data are not extrapolated to the surface, they represent the mean temperature is layers of the atmosphere, see Fig. 2 at the remss website that I provide a URL to above.

    Anyhow, seems that Spencer and Christy need to chat ;)

  28. dhogaza says:

    Me too, But the 0.65 isn’t the same number Christy used in an email to me. He pointed me to this: Where is their database?

    Good question …

    Anyhow, seems that Spencer and Christy need to chat

    Or at least release their source code. Funny how the likes of Watts and McIntyre aren’t on their collective ass about that.

  29. Steve Bloom says:

    Just to note that a further difference between UAH and RSS is that the latter deletes the high-altude regions in Tibet and the Andes for the TLT channel. This is the same reason they delete Antarctica between 70S and 82.5S. UAH includes all of those high-altitude regions for TLT, which according to RSS means that the UAH data is contaminated due to surface interference.

  30. Paul K2 says:

    Joe, Here is Roy Spencer’s site showing the 0.653

    Spencer Blog

    I made a copy of the UAH database before they pulled it.

    [JR: No, that’s apparently not the same number Christy uses.]

  31. catman306 says:

    If the TV weatherman completely misses a next-day forecast, e.g., calls for rain and it’s sunny all day, with today’s forecasting tools, this major error should be considered an Extreme Weather Event.

  32. Paul K2 says:

    I had copied and saved the UAH database before they started adjusting it. i just copied it onto Google Docs at this link which is open to anyone.

  33. paulm says:

    were cooking.

  34. Leif says:

    Record highs to record lows ratio on above statistics:

    ~1.75 :: 1 and we are only two weeks out of winter! I cannot see many record lows with summer coming on.

  35. Paul says:

    Where can i find a list of all Wanted climate change deniers?

  36. Richard Brenne says:

    e) All of the above!

    To do the full-cost accounting of what global warming means to our lives I think we need everything suggested above and more.

    Heat records to cold records as Gerald Meehl has done and Joe has frequently reported here.

    But then add to that the amount the records were set by. For instance last week in NY a site broke their daily record by 22 degrees! Most records are usually set by a degree or two.

    My guess is that the average cold record is set by something like 1.2 degrees. My guess is that the average heat record is set by something higher, maybe approaching 2 degrees.

    Then look at 90 degree days and monthly and yearly records as much as possible, with the longer the time frame (up to a century or the 130 years the NCDC feels we have reliable weather records) and the bigger the area the better – that’s why global average temperature is best of all.

    But then departure from normal is really more meaningful than round numbers like 90 degrees, and running means are more meaningful than calendar months.

    I think we need to do them all – so who out there wants to do a little number crunching on this?

  37. Stevie W says:

    The statistic is about daily records, so even summer days can produce record lows in that respect.

  38. Ron Broberg says:

    t2 -v- t2lt

    Your link pointed to mid-tropospheric data

    (summarized here)

    Lower Tropospheric data is summarized here:

  39. Leif says:

    Stevie W, #37: You are right and I did think about that after I posted. One problem with blogs is I tend to shoot from the hip at times.

    Please, no disregard for you all but I would like to paraphrase a famous quote:

    “It is the ENERGY stupid!”

    Think about tides for a moment. Small tide changes, (low energy), produce mellow currents low max/min extents, predictable, at times almost imperceptible currents. All very easy to live with.
    Now increase the tidal energy. Align the earth, moon and sun to impart maximum ENERGY into the system and what happens. Big tide flows. Seldom seen high and low water marks exposed, currents, (winds), impressive enough to make you swallow your gum!
    Think about the effects of El Nino. Is it the fact that the couple of degree increase in water temperature just warms the corresponding air a couple of degrees and raises your daily temperature from say 62F to 64? NO! It is the added ENERGY that that huge volume of water imparts to the atmosphere. Increased evaporation, (water vapor), being a big part. Here in the NW we call those “Atmospheric Rivers!” Remember when Katrina crossed a patch of abnormally warm, (a couple of degrees C), water when crossing the Gulf of Mexico? BINGO, Force 3 to Force 5!

    Because of the added warmth, (~0.5C) to the oceans world wide the atmosphere holds extra water vapor equivalent to ~1.5 times the volume of Lake Superior! That is one serious amount of water vapor that is looking for proper conditions to fall as increased rain or even snow in the winter time. One serious amount of LATENT HEAT to impart to thunder storms, weather fronts, tornados, Arctic oscillations, jet streams, you name it!

    The Earth is hyper-ventilating! Prepare to swallow your gum on a regular bases going forward…

  40. Paul K2 says:

    Here is the revised UAH database (version 5.3).

    Here is the previous UAH database (version 5.2).

    I posted some comments on the Blackboard, and Lucia provided the links.

    I find it strange that Spencer is working on some kind of urban heat analysis on the landstation data, while the UAH product is basically offline. This would never fly in the private sector… They received good funding to generate the UAH records, and now with significant errors in the previous product exposed, they aren’t working to fix the product, but instead are working on something else? This is the second time there have been big mistakes in the UAH product.

    Maybe its time to move the UAH product to a different team who are interested in putting out a good product.

  41. Michael T says:

    NCDC/NOAA reports March 2010 the 32nd warmest for the contiguous U.S.

    It is noteworthy that while Rhode Island had some of the worst flooding on record, they had their warmest as well as their wettest March on record. Record warmth and record precipitation is significant.

  42. DreamQuestor says:

    I am sure that we have all read or heard quite a bit about geoengineering. Most of the schemes put forth seem to focus either on sequestration or trying to reduce incoming solar radiation. This may seem like a silly question, but is there any known method of redirecting some of the heat back into space? I ask because I have read about space-based solar power and wondered if the process could be reversed, but I don’t know enough about physics to speculate about it.

  43. mike roddy says:

    Paul, #35, google The 14 Most Heinous Climate Villains.

  44. Bob Wallace says:

    Dream – pat yourself on the back for thinking up one of the few things that will work. Joe has written about painting roofs, etc. white to reflect some of the heat back. Low cost. Low risk.

    You should be able to find some stuff on the site with a search. Try “albedo”.

    California already has a requirement that new commercial roofs be reflective.

  45. Paul K2 says:

    Lucia put up some comparative UAH readings that show we are currently working on the 2nd highest rolling 12 (or 13) month average. Getting to a new high will need some high reported anomalies for April through July, because these months were blow out high months during the 1998 El Nino.

  46. Richard Brenne says:

    Leif (#39) – Great point about energy. Let’s work to see all the ways we can communicate that when we meet at the McKibben talk next week.

    While doing all we can to communicate that, we need to also communicate all we can with record temperatures, departures, etc since that is probably the easiest thing for people to understand.

  47. Ross Hunter says:

    I really liked what PaulK2 said at #24.

    If the people in the states would start speculating which would be the better state to move to .. some would move, some would be unable to move, etc .. the story would get take on some realism, get some pickup I think. It feels like a very mainstream American story to me.

    Can anyone point to some sources for deriving such a comparison of the localized state environments?

  48. David B. Benson says:

    Leif — Your estimate of excess watr vapor is way too high. The atmosphere’s water vapor is about equal to Lack Superior and the extra is ^% per degree Celcius of warming.

  49. ihatedeniers says:

    Joe, this year is looking to be a scorcher. The Hudson bay ice is already thawing. I know I know inaccuweather. It was the only source I could find.

  50. From Peru says:

    Now a cold front will cause temperatures to fall 40 degrees!

    “Freeze to Follow Record Warmth in Eastern US”

    Are this extreme temperature ups and downs normal in the US?
    In Lima, Peru, temperatures are quite stable (10-15ºC in winter, 20-30ºC in summer)

  51. Michael T says:

    From Peru (#51)

    I live in the state of North Carolina, in the U.S., and my local area had 2 record highs of 89.6°F (32°C) and 91.4°F (33°C) during the week-long April heat wave. We also tied another record with 32°C. Yesterday we had a maximum temp. of 66.2°F (19°C) and this morning a minimum temp. of 37.4°F (3°C). These current temps are much closer to normal, but slightly below normal. So the temperatures may fluctuate more so in the U.S. probably due to cold fronts, jet stream, AO pattern etc.

  52. DreamQuestor says:

    RE: #45 Bob Wallace,

    I should clarify that I was thinking of a mechanism to transfer a large volume of heat from the atmosphere to outer space–the rough equivalent of using a fan to vent heat from a closed room. I am all in favor of eliminating fossil fuels and carbon dioxide emissions and thereby solving the problem at the source, but I am also convinced that some type of geoengineering will be necessary to prevent our planet from turning into Venus. Even if it is possible, however, I suspect that most would consider it is economically infeasible.

    RE: 51. Peru is located at the equator where temperatures are relatively stable whereas the US is located in the temperate zone where temperatures fluctuate dramatically.