Weather on steroids

Not that you needed anyone to tell you this, but this year has been insanely hot. Bonkers hot. Something’s-not-right hot.

Temperatures in the lower 48 states were 8.6 degrees above normal for March and 6 degrees higher than average for the first three months of the year, according to calculations by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That far exceeds the old records.

The magnitude of how unusual the year has been in the U.S. has alarmed some meteorologists who have warned about global warming. One climate scientist said it’s the weather equivalent of a baseball player on steroids, with old records obliterated.

“Everybody has this uneasy feeling. This is weird. This is not good,” said Jerry Meehl, a climate scientist who specializes in extreme weather at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. “It’s a guilty pleasure. You’re out enjoying this nice March weather, but you know it’s not a good thing.”

via Not just March, but start of 2012 shatter US records for heat, worrying meteorologists – The Washington Post.

I’ve used that analogy before. Like a Jose Canseco bicep, this is just getting damned improbable, isn’t it?

Recommended by somervilletom, kbusch, ealmquist.


11 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Global Warming

    The warmer weather here is concerning, but I’d suggest that this data alone shouldn’t be used to reflexively conclude “see, global warming is happening!”

    First of all, the warm weather this year is concentrated mainly in North America. Most of the world, including Europe, has been colder than normal this year. More important, however, making sweeping conclusions on the basis of such a small sample size is never a good idea. Pointing to this as proof of global warming is not much better than some conservative beaming during a colder-than-normal spell (see 2010) and announcing that global warming doesn’t exist.

    There is a lot of data indicating that global warming is very real and will have lasting repercussions. Those concerned about global warming do themselves no favors by trumping up isolated temperature statistics like this year’s North American winter to try and make this point. Climate change disbelievers can always just come back with some nonsense like: “but February 14th of 2011 was super-cold!!!!! This disproves global warming!!!11!” It’s better to keep focusing on the long-term trends, to which climate change skeptics have little legitimate response.

    • when the abnormal becomes the normal

      Single weather data points of course don’t indicate a changing climate, but when you get enough of them that are really on the extreme edges, the alarm bells should start going off.

      The preventive steps I took last fall to deal with ice dams (which many of us didn’t have to deal with before January 2011) look laughable now. But I’m still going to prepare the same way for next winter.

      Also, among all the other things, I’ve lost count of the number of fire weather watches and warnings (red flags days) we’ve had so far just this year due to the abnormally dry conditions.

      We’ll have to change that old New England truism: If you don’t like the climate, just wait until next year.

  2. Are there stats on the past few days?

    They have seemed a bit cooler than April should be.

    • Yes - And April is Warmer Too

      According to AccuWeather, the temperature was average or warmer than average every day in April except this past weekend. Average highs range from 50-53 degrees Fahrenheit . Actual April 2012 highs ranged from just 50 degrees yesterday (3 degrees below normal) to 64 degrees on April 4th (13 degrees above normal). Most days were right around or a little above average at 52 or 53 degrees high. The median high was 54.25 degrees, about 2.5 degrees above normal.

      Also, March 2012 was the second warmest month on record in the Boston area. The Blue Hill Observatory (with records going back to 1891) said that the March average temperature (adjusted to 24 hours) was 43.4 degrees Fahrenheit, a full 9.2 degrees warmer than the long-term 1891-2000 mean. And just just one tenth of one degree cooler than the warmest March ever, which occurred in 1946

  3. I have a post coming up soon...

    I drove through some climate change debris this past weekend – my daughter and I took a trip through Brimfield, MA, where th tornadoes touched down last year. Here’s a couple of photos:


    I know the owner of that house – he and his wife and 4 year old daughter were huddled together in the basement as the house was ripped off its foundation over their heads.


    Those bare trunks were once a dense, wooded forest. I have a lot to say about this, and I’ll say it soon in a post of my own…

  4. Actually the extremes are consistent with climate change

    It’s long past time to stop giving people a pass on our responsibility for climate change. Even with global warming temperatures can be below average some place on earth at any time, but the temperature and precipitation extremes and the extreme disbalance between record highs and records lows are entirely consistent with global warming.

  5. Sununu Drivel and pro-coal PR

    Today’s Globe also continues to provide a free platform for John Sununu’s work as an adviser to the lobbying form of Akin Gump. The Globe continues to refuse to disclose Sununu’s corporate connections while running a long series of pieces that support corporate interests. The Globe, meanwhile, plays dumb, asserting that they are not aware of specific conflicts of interests. Here’s the Globe’s feeble response from Media Matters: “n response to inquiries from Media Matters, the Globe’s editorial page editor described Sununu’s role with the lobbying firm as “very limited” and added that he was not aware of any instance in which a Sununu column referenced any “specific case involving Akin Gump.”

    The problem is Akin Gump prides itself on the fact that “our roots run deep in the energy industry,” but how cares?

    Today’s piece was also especially cynical in that Sununu revealed his deep concern for the fate of coal miners. We need to keep polluting forever to protect their jobs. (Of course we could end coal mining and provide support to coal miners and coal miner areas,) How many minutes John Sununu has spent thinking about the plight of coal miners before launching this new piece of pro-coal spin?

    His piece also displays ignorant dismissal of the basic scientific evidence of global warming–Sununu claims it’s not getting warmer. All in all a sad day for the Globe but another good one for John Sununu.

  6. Charley me boy,

    Record snows and freezing temperatures in Eastern Europe this year, one of the coldest on record. Of course, according to Historian we can say that just about any weather is “entirely consistent with global warming.” And, gee, I mmust have just imagined that killer tornado that hit Worcester in 1953!?

  7. Global temperatures

    For a fun time, one can construct maps here and view the extreme weather from a global perspective. Even where there are deep blue areas, it’s clear that the rest of the globe is running warm and the warm extremes are warmer than the cold extremes cold. Likewise worrying for coastal residents: the poles are getting much warmer than typical.

  8. No, not all weather is attributable to global warming

    @ Edgar–I assume you know that the climate date (the real stuff–not the garbage that gets recycled by Fox and the Wall Street Journal) unequivocally shows a rapidly warming world and that does not even account for the heating up of oceans.
    Whether it is cold or hot at any one time at any one spot on the globe, the average annual temperatures have been on an upward trend for decades where since the 70s ever decade is warmer than the last decade.

    Things global warming will do:
    increase the average annual temperature
    increase extremes of precipitation
    increase the amount of energy in the atmosphere

    Apparently none of the mountain of evidence amassed by the actual scientists who carry out peer reviewed research is sufficient to persuade the global warming deniers, and better yet, they get to try to sink the climate for the rest of us.

    But if all we’re doing is gambling with the future of the only planet we are ever going to have it probably does make more sense to put all trust in the Jeff Jacobyys of the world.

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