Weatherdem's Weblog

Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy

Eastern 3/4 Of U.S. Roasted In July 2011

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Thanks to global cooling (not!), the eastern 3/4 of the U.S. was much warmer than normal in July 2011.  In fact, Oklahoma set a record for the warmest month of any state in American history: an average of 88.9F.  Which kind of makes sense, when you think about it.  After all, it was the preeminent expert on climate, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R TB-OK), whose grandchildren built an igloo on the National Mall back in February 2010 – because mocking Al Gore is the top responsibility of a sitting U.S. Senator.  Maybe his family should have spent less time making fun of things they can’t or don’t want to understand but more time praying for rain this summer.  In the end, the solution is simple: stop polluting heat-trapping gases and the atmosphere will trap less heat!  Imagine that!

Back to the state of U.S. climate in July 2011.

July 2011 was the fourth warmest July in NOAA’s records: 77F.  It was the fourth warmest month all time.  Here is what that looks like graphically:

NOAA has plenty of other noteworthy items from July at the provided link.  A sampling (emphasis mine):

  • Regionally, the South climate region, which includes Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas, had its warmest single calendar month for any climate region since records began in 1895.
  • Winds ahead of monsoonal thunderstorms produced an expansive dust storm which stretched for nearly 100 miles and quickly moved through a large area of Arizona on July 5. The dust storm traveled approximately 150 miles picking up dust as it traveled across the extemely dry desert lands. The infrastructure in the densley populated city of Phoenix was directly impacted, limiting the movement of automobiles and air traffic.
  • The largest national footprint of D4 (“exceptional drought”) in the 12-year history of the U.S. Drought Monitor occurred in July. In Texas “exceptional drought” covers more than 75 percent (201,436 sq mi) of the state. This area is larger than the entire Northeast climate region (196,224 sq mi). Drought conditions are so harsh in some locations that it would take as much as 20 inches of precipitation in one month to end the drought.

If you’re lucky enough to live along the Pacific coast, July was pretty cool.  For everybody else, the summer of 2011 can’t end soon enough.  Interestingly, there were more single-station high temperature records set in June than in July, as the following graphic from Capital Climate shows.  That being said, a ratio of either 6:1 or 11:1 high-to-low records being set is dismaying.

If global cooling were truly in effect, as most climate change deniers have been aggressively arguing for the past couple of years, these kinds of records’ ratios would obviously not be occurring.

Year-to-year variability exists.  There is nothing certain about 2011 being warmer than 2010 or 2012 being warmer than 2011.  But the chances that future years will be warmer than this year are increasing.  A single snowstorm in January isn’t a responsible argument for global cooling.  Months’ worth of record warmth across a continent is a demonstration that the climate is responding to our heat-trapping pollution in exactly the way that it should respond.

It isn’t a good thing that the severely weakened cap-and-trade bill was left for dead by the Democratic-led Congress.  The dust storms, record drought and record rains will ease up when residents in Arizona, Texas, and other red states realize it’s in their power to end their own misery.

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