Tuesday, June 19, 2012

There's no trend in our 90-degree history

Without wading into the climate change debate, let's just say that people on either side of the argument won't find ammunition from Charlotte's history of 90-degree days.

The Queen City has experienced only one 90-degree day so far this year, which is below the average for this time of year.

But if you've lived around here for more than a few summers, you know how quickly that can change. And that's exactly what could happen over the next week. While temperatures might not quite get to 90 today (Tuesday), they're expected to reach or surpass the 90-degree mark daily for the next week.

Yesterday, I wrote that computer models are pointing to a cool down next week. Now some of those models have flip-flopped and indicate the heat will hang around.

If you believe that our weather is getting warmer, the number of 90-degree days over the past two years will support your cause. Charlotte had 73 of those days in 2011 and 87 in 2010. That total in 2010 was the second-most on record, falling a bit short of the record 88 set in 1954.

There also were 75 days of 90 or hotter in 2007.

But you don't have to go back very far to find much smaller numbers. Three years ago, in 2009, Charlotte had only 28 days of 90 degrees or more. We had 36 of those days in 2006.

And if you go back to 2003, we had only nine 90-degree days. That was the second-smallest number on record. Only the summer of 1967, with eight 90-degree days, was cooler.

More than afternoon high temperatures go into the overall picture of summer heat.

Morning lows are another issue. If you remember last year, we experienced a larger-than-average number of mornings when lows fell only into the middle and upper 70s. That was a sign of the high humidity levels that covered the region like a wet blanket for much of June, July and August.

A third factor is rainfall.  No matter how hot it gets, summer seems a bit easier to take when a late-afternoon or evening thunderstorm rolls along.

Long-range forecasts call for average summer conditions in Charlotte.

Over the past 30 years, the Queen City has averaged 45.6 days of 90 degrees or more.  Let's see what unfolds.


Anonymous said...

Thats a great article and kind of spits in the face of the global warming theory. My take is weather is cyclical. It rights itself...Granted I do think we are damaging the planet in PLENTY of ways but I don't think global warming is quite as significant as they would have us to believe.

Anonymous said...

Anon, global warming isn't a theory. It's a fact. Get your head out of the sand.

Anonymous said...

As Charlotte grows, the urban heat island effect becomes greater. We have significantly less trees than 20 or 30 yrs ago, and this has a local impact on temperature. Plant and preserve your trees.

freddy said...

The point of global warming is that world-wide trends are clear. There are always local exceptions. The problem is when those isolated local incidents are used to deny the preponderance of evidence which points in another direction.

Of course there have been cycles where the atmosphere is made up of more CO2 or more oxygen than others. What global warming naysayers don't seem to be able to comprehend - no matter how many times it's explained to them - is that those changes typically take place over thousands or millions of years. What we're seeing now has all happened over roughly the last 150 years, corresponding neatly with the dawn of the industrial age. That curve has now gone exponential over the last few decades.

The only other times in the history of the planet where atmospheric change has happened so rapidly has been when a tremendous natural disaster has occurred, such as the impact of an asteroid or eruption of a supervolcano.

As it turns out, this time WE are the "natural disaster". And for reasons that are entirely political, we refuse to admit what we're doing to the planet's ability to sustain human life long-term, and to do something about it.

Future historians will write about the insanity of it all - if there are any left.

J said...

There is one other factor you omit in your temperature discussion - the fact that the "official" temp is recorded at the airport, where nothing is, and is very different from the temp where people actually exist. I don't want to hear any nonsense about "but that's the "pure" temp; the asphault and masses of people distort the temp - the temp where people are is the real temp. If it's 99 with a heat index of 107 in my SE Charlotte neighborhood, and I collapse from heat exhaustion on my way home from my bus stop, telling me that it's only 90 and heat index of 91 at the airport means nothing to me, and it doesn't make my heat exhaustion any less real.

Freddy - it is pretty clear you are in the Al Gore hysteria camp, that you believe any change in climate is 100% man-made and that the only possible solutions are 1) to force all electric companies to produce 100% of all electricity by wind and solar, and those companies should be required to give everyone electricity for free, 2) the USA to give billions of dollars to under-developed countries just for the heck of it, and 3) for every American who makes more money than you to give 95% of their net worth to the government. I'm not on board. I agree that global warming is real, that humans have played a role, and using alternative energy sources where practical and cost-effective is the right thing to do. You accuse the US of denying the reality for political reasons. The Al Gore Hysterical Global Warming movement is every bit as political as the opponents. Get off your high horse. You aren't a superior life form to anyone.

freddy said...

J - Nice of you to put all those words into my mouth. I believe none of what you accuse me of; you don't know me at all.

In fact, if you believe that global warming is real and humans "have played a role", then we are in agreement. But if you don't think the anti-global warming hysteria (the right place for that word) is politically driven, then you haven't been paying much attention. It's ALL politically driven.

Read my post above again: It's the SPEED with which atmospheric gas concentrations and temperatures are changing that makes what's happening now unique in the history of this world. The only variable to account for this bizarre occurrence is man's dumping trillions of tons of combustion CO2 and other greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Do you honestly not get that? Too busy trashing Al Gore I guess - how old are you?

Scientists have been telling us this for 40 years now and there is no longer any credible doubt. We have probably lost the opportunity to do something about it while we pursued an energy policy authored and driven by the oil, coal and gas industries and their lobbyists and the politicians they bought. It's probably too late to do anything now, as the temperatures are increasing even faster than the original models predicted. That's not hysteria; it's measurable, demonstrable fact.

People like you just refuse to listen, and that's the result of a carefully orchestrated propaganda campaign that's been going on for decades now. We will pay, our children will pay, and we'll be lucky if our grandchildren will live to pay. Congratulations: you win.

benritmato said...

It's a shame that something that can be verified and understood with some effort by laymen has come to be so contentious. NASA, NOAA, every academy of science in the world agrees that average global temps have risen over the past 50 years. Even the Koch-funded BEST study found that any "heat island" effect has not contributed to measured global warming.
"If you believe that our weather is getting warmer..." is a strange phrase to see written here. Either temps are getting warmer or they are not. It's possible to verify this either way. I do understand the local angle in "our 90-degree history." But what caught my eye was the point about morning lows. Higher humidity and nighttime temperatures rising faster than daytime temps are predicted as concentrations of CO2 rise.