Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Blistering Summer

The National Climatic Data Center has crunched the numbers and reports that this summer (Jun–Aug) produced the 2nd highest average temperature for the contiguous United States in the instrumented period, topped only by the summer of 1936.

Source: NCDC
Why 1936 and the dust-bowl era was so anomalously warm in the contiguous United States would be a good subject for a future post.  Perhaps I'll look into this if the weather and climate ever decide to sleep for a few days!  I emphasize in the contiguous United States because the US temperature record has frequently been misused to suggest it was warmer globally during the dust-bowl era than it is today, and this is simply not the case.

Geographically, average summer temperatures set new records across much of Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico and were above or well above average across much of the eastern 2/3 of the United States.  In contrast, average summer temperatures were below or well below average in the Pacific Northwest, Nevada, and northern and central California.

Utah straddled this temperature anomaly dipole, with northern Utah coming out near average for the entire summer.  This was the result, however, of a relatively cool June, average July, and warm August.

The heat in Texas and Oklahoma was simply incredible, blowing all previous statewide summer temperature records in the contiguous US away.

John Nielson-Gammon provides a preliminary analysis of the contribution of global warming to these anomalously warm temperatures on his Climate Abyss blog.  I'm sure this will be the subject of additional analysis in the future.

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