45 responses to “Whew!

  1. Tom Williams

    Interesting display, looks like the eastern two thirds of the nation has been experiencing unseasonably high temperatures, while the western third has, at the same time, enjoyed unseasonably cool temperatures. Not sure what to make of this. The cool weather is no doubt welcomed by the forest fire fighters in western states, but rain would be a lot more welcome everywhere.

    [Response: I’d say that’s a faulty characterization. In terms of sheer numbers heat records outnumber cold during this week by 3482 to 198 (ratio 17.6 to 1), and many of the record highs aren’t just record-for-this-date but all-time records. The extent and severity of heat records overwhelms that of cold records, there’s really no comparison. And in Colorado, the state hardest hit by wildfires, I see lots of hot records but no cold.]

  2. Not a fun time to be in the DC area. At least we have power.

  3. Silly tamino, there’s maybe one or two there in the CO corner. /endsnark

    Actually, I would love to see how much these records are being crushed by- I think I remembered somewhere that for maybe some recent heat ways, the “high min” temperatures were showing just how insane the differences between new records and previous records.

  4. The usual adage is “A week is a long time in politics.” But how would you read that map? Perhaps it suggests a question.
    If you can fit this much US climatology into a week by pumping 2 TtCO2 into the air, how much can you fit in by pumping 3 TtCO2?

  5. I’d say that’s a faulty characterization. In terms of sheer numbers heat records outnumber cold during this week by 3482 to 198 (ratio 17.6 to 1)

    That’s a bit misleading as there are large chunks of, say, the great basin that have few weather recording stations.

    Check out this map of RAWS automatic weather platforms in NV/UT. Note how much more dense coverage as you get near the Sierras in CA, to the west.

    But eyeballing the area it appears to be at least 3/4 of the country was (and is and will be) getting record highs. Even in the great basin we see a lot of high mins being set (Nevada). Certainly far, far more of the country’s setting highs than lows even accounting for the differing density of monitoring stations in the semi-arid west and the midwest/east.

    It’s been a rainy June here in the PNW so it’s not too surprising to see some low records set along with high mins as the constant overcast has kept days from getting too warm and the nights from cooling much.

  6. It’s weather, but it’s remarkable weather. Canada’s in on the action, too; most of Central Canada just experienced lots of record highs, while the forecast calls for Western Canada to follow suit this week.

    Environment Canada mentions ‘a few’ of the Ontario records from Friday:

    Location new record old record
    Toronto (Pearson airport) 36.3 34.7 (1988)
    Ottawa airport 34.5 34.1 (1939)
    Trenton 33.6 31.4 (2010)

    (These are, of course, Celcius values!)

    (I’ve aligned columns, but unfortunately, they probably won’t stay aligned when I post.)

  7. We were forecast to hit 108 in Baltimore today, which would’ve beaten the all-time record. Wonder what the odds are of randomly beating the all-time record when you’re still 2 or 3 weeks away from the peak temperature date. Fortunately, the temperature has been so hot that forecast models don’t work so well because there’s little empirical data to use to figure out what happens when the temperature gets so high in the midwest and mid-Atlantic that the atmosphere gets angry and starts shooting out derechos or whatever which has kept us a couple degrees cooler.

  8. Given the current record rainfall/flooding in the UK, Russia and Bangladesh; the record heat in Central Europe and the record ice melt in the Arctic, I’d love to see this map for the entire northern hemisphere. The entire global weather system seems well and truly disturbed at this moment.

    A portent?

    • There’s this.

      • Bernard J.


        That would be the grapth that WWWT used to confabulate climate with weather, and to yet again sow doubt about global warming.

        Paul K2 and KR valiantly address much of the nonsense that follows, but Antbones manages to get Watts to apparate and indulge in a small hissy fit at being called on the matter:

        Antbones says:
        July 7, 2012 at 3:15 pm

        Face it Anthony… The earth is warming. Regardless of what you think the cause is, it’s getting hotter. And guess what happens when it gets hotter? More heat records are broken, droughts will be more severe, etc.. Is the point of this article that you don’t even think the earth is getting hotter?

        [REPLY: Yes, you want Anthony to defend denialist sites like this* and this*. We love the smell of real science in the morning. -REP]

        REPLY: What a warped conclusion. I’m talking about weather patterns and this anonymous twit thinks I’m in denier mode. Sure we’ve seen an increase in temperature in the last century, I’ve NEVER said we haven’t. I just don’t think its is a crisis, and I don’t see any evidence that CO2 forcings have overridden natural variations yet. – Anthony

        Of course, if Watts really wasn’t in denier mode he’d have posted multiple times after the original post, to counter the claims of his sycophants. That he did not (and does not) do so leads to a logical conclusion. That Watts confuses logic with warping says it all…

        Oh, and I’m pretty sure that there has been more than one posting on WWWT that claims that there has been no warming. After all, wasn’t the whole ‘Surface Stations’ endeavour about refuting continental (confabulated with global) warming?

        [*Links omitted]

      • Bernard J.

        And if the webcite link is ever down, there’s a backup here:


      • Bernard J.

        It might help if I’d pasted the Webcite link in the first place…


      • Bernard J – when scientists say “I told you so” or “this is what GW looks like” there is going to be backlash.

        Most people look at that graphic and think the globe is getting colder – because of the white and grey. The white and grey net out to what?

      • Turboblocke

        Where does WUWT get that plot from? And what exactly is it supposed to represent? I always feel that something is being hidden if there is no link to the source. BTW I notice that it uses 1981-2010 as the baseline.

      • Ryan Maue is credited with making the graphic.

      • Watts: “Sure we’ve seen an increase in temperature in the last century, I’ve NEVER said we haven’t.”

        What about the SPPI report he co-authored with D’Aleo which contains this as a conclusion:
        “it cannot be credibly asserted there has been any significant “global warming” in the 20th century.”

      • Bernard J.

        Most people look at that graphic and think the globe is getting colder – because of the white and grey. The white and grey net out to what?

        That question is very simply answered by selecting any of the monthly, seasonal, or annual periods here:


        And selecting any period going back quite a ways, to construct one’s own graph. No, there’s no chance to cherry-pick a single day, but if you can justify why picking particular days are more important for the climatic context than are longer periods, I’m all ears.

        And if you’re rusted on to the Hollywood approach to entertainment, there’s always this option:


        Either way, the “white and grey” (or rather, their equivalents) are shown to “net out” to an extreme ‘less‘ over time.

        I seriously doubt that WWWT will be posting any of these maps any time soon…

      • Turboblocke, July 8, 2012 at 7:45 pm:

        BTW I notice that it uses 1981-2010 as the baseline.


        The reference baseline for putting human-caused temperature change into context is the mid-20th century period 1951-1980. Using in this context the NCEP CFSR baseline, which is based on the last 30 years (bar two), is a mendacious manipulation to minimise in the story the appearance of positive anomalies.

        I’d be interested to hear JCH’s justification for this. More to the point, I’d be much more interested to hear Anthony Watt’s excuse for reproducing it in the first place without careful accompanying explanation – or for not instead reproducing a map calibrated to the traditional mid-20th century baseline…

      • Bernard J. – you misunderstand. I was not endorsing the graphic. John Russell wanted to see a map of the NH. I had just seen it, and stuck it on here for discussion.

        The site you linked indicates the grey areas lack data. On the WUWT map I take the grey area is an indication of slight warming. Am I wrong about that?

      • I do apologise for the misunderstanding, JCH.

        On the matter of NCEP CFSR versus GISSTemp, I seem to recall that the former’s baseline is 0.32 degrees celcius greater than the latter. That would put the majority of the white areas on or above the GISS 1950-1980 mean, and the grey areas most definitely above, by at least 0.8 C above GISS mean.

        However, someone more familiar with the various climate databases will probably be able to be more certain.

        As you noted most people would interpret those white/greytones as indicating cooler-than-mid-20th-century-average temperatures (sorry, I thought you were implying that most people who knew about the baselines would infer this). Assuming that my recollection is correct, and except for a small portion of the white, the opposite is in fact the case.

      • …above the GISS 1951-1980 mean…

  9. To quote a famous headline in a British tabloid newspaper:


  10. “In terms of sheer numbers heat records outnumber cold during this week by 3482 to 198 (ratio 17.6 to 1), and many of the record highs aren’t just record-for-this-date but all-time records.”

    No doubt, and it’s a pattern repeated many times over around the world, indicative of a shifting of not just the mean but the extremes too. However, just to play devil’s advocate, I suspect there is a higher density of stations in the east so those numbers are still really representative.

    So viewing this in terms of area leads to an under-appreciation of the magnitude of the heat, while viewing it in terms of the raw number of records likely leads to the opposite. Sounds like this needs some kind of weighting ;-)

  11. Rob Honeycutt

    All that and we’re still under the influence of a neutral ENSO.
    El Nino is winding up for the pitch….

  12. Bernard J.

    What I find interesting is the number of media reports in the USA that do not refer to the science that apparently dares not speak its name.

    In this WaPo piece the nearest it came was:

    “This is becoming a black swan of heat waves, in the sense that it’s such a long heat wave, such a severe heat wave and encompassing such a large area,” said Chris Vaccaro, spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

    There’s no explanation of what Vaccaro means by “black swan”. Perhaps the WaPo should ask Anthony Watts to tell them…

    • Horatio Algeranon

      “Black Swans”
      — by Horatio Algeranon

      “No need to worry” said the expert,
      “The chance of that is slim to none:
      Might happen every million years,
      Don’t let it spoil the current fun.”

      “The plant is safe, the market’s sound,
      The global climate will rebound.
      The ice age cooled things in the past
      Good grounds to think the warmth won’t last.”

      “And droughts and floods, those rare events,
      Will just be itty-bitty dents —
      Mere fender-benders along the way
      For which we can afford to pay.”

      About Black Swans we should not brood
      Just harmless fowl — quite good when stewed!

      • Horatio-san, did you mean “The planet?”

      • Horatio Algeranon

        That was actually inspired by Gambling with the Planet (by Joseph Stiglitz) which talked about the Fuskushima disaster — along with the financial meltdown and climate change. (“Meltdown” seems to be a common theme these days)

        But it applies to lots of other “plants” as well (Bhopal, coal plants, oil refineries, oil rigs, etc) and is basically a statement about our overconfidence in the safety of our technology and our foolhardy tendency to downplay risks, the central theme of the Stiglitz piece.

        But you are right, “planet” would also work (might actually be better)

  13. it only takes one black swan to prove that all swans are not white

  14. Martin Smith

    “Black swan” is an odd choice of terms here, coming from a NOAA spokesman. It means completely unexpected. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_swan_theory

    • Bernard J.

      Without the entirety of Vaccaro’s commentary it’s difficult to comment on the context of his usage, but I suspect that he meant that the occurrence of the heatwave falsifies the idea that such extreme events are the product of random natural variability alone. This of course requires that his commentary be analysed in the light of the science of global warming, which was, as I pointed out earlier, completely avoided in the WaPo piece.

      The “completely unexpected” interpretation is but one small aspect of what is a nuanced concept. In the context of global warming such extreme heatwaves are not at all unexpected, but their occurrence (and especially together with their increasing frequency) argues against the claim that humans are not warming the planet.

  15. Bernard J.

    A couple of questions for the USAdians here…

    How’s the electricity infrastructure holding up to the power demand during the heatwave?

    And how long does it usually take the relevant authorities in the USA to determine the number of ‘excess’ deaths? I know that the media are bandying around a figure of around 30, but epidemiological analysis is bound to knock this out of the ball park.

    • Poorly, if a wind storm of any flavor tips trees onto the we-are-mostly-too-cheap-to-bury-the-power-lines infrastructure (European visitors have repeatedly expressed “really?” over all the strung power lines, but that’s how things are). Otherwise, I’m in the PNW, so don’t have direct information about the warmer parts of the country.

      • Horatio Algeranon

        “Technological cobwebs”

        — by Horatio Algeranon

        We’re trapped in a web
        Of our own making
        Certain that progress
        Is forsaking

  16. (record rainfall around Denver, which is going to make for very interesting conditions on and downstream of those fire sites)

  17. andrew dodds

    You can have some of our rain.. summer in the UK has been breaking rain records. And we *do* rain. It’s either record-dry or record-wet..

  18. Susan Anderson

    Y’all might like to take a look at the busy trains traveling anent the heat dome here:

    Fantastic engine, considered visually. Scary if you’re a human in the path. That hurricane looks a doozie.

    Of course, this connection will become dated in a day or so.