Extreme Weather Roundup: Earliest Second Named Tropical Storm, Record-Smashing Heat Wave, Widespread Drought

The U.S. is being pummeled by a climate system on steroids. For the year to date, new heat records continue to beat cold records by a staggering 14.7 to 1, which trumps the pace of the last decade by a factor of 7!

And the U.S. southeast is being whipsawed from brutal drought to deluge (via tropical storm), which, curiously enough, is just what scientists have said global warming has started to do in the summertime, too.

Here are some charts that tells the story.

Beryl is Earliest “B” Storm on Record

“The chart shows the date of formation for the second named Atlantic tropical cyclone of the season from 1950 through 2012. The average date through 2011 was August 1, so Beryl is nearly 10 weeks earlier than average.”

While warm Gulf stream waters have helped spin up Beryl, the heat has been socking the mainland U.S. all year, as this chart from Capital Climate shows:

Following a March heat wave that was “unmatched in recorded history” for the U.S. (and Canada), heat records continued to trump cold records by a huge amount in both April and May. I like the statistical aggregation across the country, since it gets us beyond the oft-repeated point that you can’t pin any one record temperature on global warming.

2009 analysis shows that the average ratio for the 2000s was 2.04-to-1, a sharp increase from previous decades. Lead author Dr. Gerald Meehl explained, “If temperatures were not warming, the number of record daily highs and lows being set each year would be approximately even.”

Many of the country’s leading climatologists and meteorologists have looked at the data and concluded that like a baseball player on steroids, our climate system is breaking records at an unnatural pace (see also “March Heat Records Crush Cold Records by Over 35 To 1, Scientists Say Global Warming Loaded The Dice“).

Climate Central has a great graphic of the record temperatures for any month that you can play around with, which I’ll post at the end. But first, as Capital Climate notes with the following chart, “the U.S. is well on its way to crush the record for warmest spring since national temperature data began in 1895“:

It would have to be staggeringly cold in the coming in the coming days for 2012 to not set the record.

Until Beryl, the Southeast, along with much of the country, was under a brutal drought, as last week’s U.S. Drought Monitor made clear:

No doubt this Thursday’s map will show significant improvement in parts of the southeast because of Beryl. But this whipsawing from drought to deluge and back is not good for farming or ecosystems or human health. Unfortunately, climate science suggests we are going to have to get used to it:

Finally, here’s that Climate Central graphic of US temperature records by month. It’s set for May 2012, but March is even more amazing.

9 Responses to Extreme Weather Roundup: Earliest Second Named Tropical Storm, Record-Smashing Heat Wave, Widespread Drought

  1. Joan Savage says:

    I’m trying to have a simpler way to talk about the new temperature ranges, and I haven’t found if range shift has been studied.

    Where I live in upstate New York the normal monthly temperature range is little over 20F, either in winter (14F to 34.4F in January) or in summer (60.1F to 81.7F in August).

    It’s not clear to me if the breadth of range is going to ‘hold’ constant even while the mean temperature moves up, or if the breadth of the range is likely to expand.

    A 2C(3.6F)or 4C(7.2F)average global warming prediction doesn’t trigger a personal reaction in someone accustomed to a range of 20F within a month, and 67.7F in a year, but I know other information that does put me on the alert.

    Is anyone looking at “whipsaw” shifts at a local and regional scale, and predicting new local maximums and minimums? Moreover predicting a new range of temperature?

    Is is even logical to add a projected global average increase to a local measurement? Probably not! We know parts of the globe are heating up faster than others.

    How could people figure out more about ‘what’s in it for them?’
    Maybe the new “Yellowstone” computer will be of some help in localizing climate predictions.

  2. wili says:

    Parts of India and Pakistan are also suffering under a deadly headwave:

    “Heat wave in North and East, Delhi sizzles at 43.5 degree celsius”

    That’s over 110 F.

    “In PHOTOS: India reels under KILLER heat wave”

  3. catman306 says:

    I don’t think that the average person knows why a stable climate is important to THEM. It’s not just the dangerous extremes that Joe Romm points out in “Hell and High Water”, although floods and droughts are sure to get the average person’s attention. Someone needs write an article or book to point out the services that a stable climate performs for them and their natural environment and how those life enhancing services will diminish or vanish with climate change. People everywhere are sure to feel the loss of stable climate as their weather becomes erratic. A well written article might help them to see WHY they need to be very concerned.

  4. Barry Saxifrage says:

    In general global warming is supposed to reduce the range of temperatures. Nights are supposed to get warmer faster than days.

    I believe this has been measured as happening and is considered one of the “signatures” of GHG warming.

  5. Joan Savage says:

    The graphs I’ve been seeing don’t show a compression of range, but I’d like to see one if it exists. We get bountiful examples of higher daily highs as well as higher daily lows.

    A desert climate has a wider range between its average daily high and average nightly low temperature than does a region buffered by moisture. (Yuma AZ has a wider range of temperature than does Miami or Hawaii.), so I’d expect to see some geographic variation as new temperature ranges develop, and new regional climates – however transitory.

  6. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    The diernal range may be reduced but the range of temperatures will increase. The warming Arctic has slowed the jetstream, this slowing means it has a wider slower meander, As a consequence the difference between cold and hot periods becomes greater and the weather hangs around longer.

    The cold snaps after a early false spring will hang around long enough to do real damage to crops.

    So variation within a single day may be less, but week to week variation greater.

  7. BillD says:

    My part of northern Indiana is only a moderate drought according to the map. However, corn has not received any rain since the first week of May when most of it was planted. Lawns that were cut short are now completely brown, which looks like early August. My teaparty rep Stutzman is a farmer and is on the House Ag committee. I am going to write him to ask when they are going to hold hearings on the impact of climate change on agriculture.

  8. Raul M. says:

    Oh yeah, we got an old fashioned rain storm.
    Squash plants and beans love it.
    Just saying.

  9. Joan Savage says:


    I heartily agree!

    Ecological economists such as Robert Costanza, economics-oriented ecologists such as Charles AS Hall, and others have been quantifying the value of ecosystems for decades, without the main idea coming across in media to the general public – in something more down to earth than “Avatar.”

    At minimum, the value of a stable climate is like the value of a house (ecos) that fixes itself! Stable environment is prohibitively expensive to replace.