As outlandish as the killer heatwave that struck the Pacific Northwest was, it fits into a decades-long pattern of uneven summer warming.
The West is getting roasted by hotter summer days while theis swamped by hotter and stickier summer nights, an analysis of decades of U.S. summer weather data by The Associated Press shows.
State-by-state average temperatureis increasing more in some places that just got baked with extreme heat over the past week: California, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Oregon, and Colorado.
The, July, and August, up 3 degrees on average since 1990. The Northwest has warmed nearly twice as much in the past 30 years as it has in the Southeast.
That includes Portland, Oregon, which set a record 116-degree high, 3 degreesever recorded in Oklahoma City or Dallas-Fort Worth.
Although much of the primary cause of the past week’s extreme heat was an unusual but natural weather condition, scientists see the fingerprint of human-caused, citing altered weather patterns that park heat in different places for more extended periods.
“The ridiculous temperatures in themay, on the one hand, be considered a black swan (ultra-rare) event, but on the other hand are consistent” with long-term trends, said meteorologist Judah Cohen of Atmospheric and Environmental Research. “So I am not going to predict when is the Portland will hit 116, but I believe hotter summers for the broader region are here to stay.”
alters and weakens the jet stream, narrow bands of wind that circle the Earth flowing west to East. Those changes allow key weather-producing high and low-pressure patterns to stall in place. Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann says that high pressure brings hot and dry weather that, when stalled, can create what is known as heat domes. Low pressure brings wet weather. Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann says that high pressure is delaying more often in the West in summer.
Another factor is higher water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean that generate more so-called high-pressure ridges in the West, said Gerald Meehl, a National Center for Atmospheric Research scientist who studies.
These patterns show up so often that their effects can be seen in long-term data. COHEN SAID THAT the U.S. Northwest, western Canada, and Siberia, which also just saw a stunning heatwave, are amongduring summer since 1990.
The Midwest is warming slower during the summer than either coast. That’s because stalled low-pressure areas often drive cooler air into the Great Lakes region, said North Illinois University climate scientist Victor Gensini.
and eastern heat trends. “In has been expanding and intensifying during the past decade, soil moisture has declined. Dry soil heats up faster than moist soil during the day because all the goes into heating rather than evaporating moisture,” said Jennifer Francis, a climate scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center. “Dry soil also cools off faster at night.”
That’s partly why the West, which is getting drier by the decade and is mired in a 20-year megadrought, is seeing those crazy triple-digit daytime temperatures.
Francis explained that water vapor is a greenhouse gas, “So at night it traps more of the heat.” the East is getting wetter by the decade, NOAA records show, and the East Coast iswarming increase at night. The overnight lows in New Jersey and Delaware have warmed 3 degrees since 1990, the most significant increase in the nation.
state climatologist, Kathie Dello attributes the trends to human-caused warming. “There’s no other explanation,” she said.
She added that while the extreme daytime highs may be eye-popping, warmer nights can also be dangerous. “Warm nights may not sound like a problem, but they are arisk for people who lack sufficient cooling,” she said.
And hiding from the heat is becoming harder and harder: “All my places to go for a quick break were absurdly hot — Oregon,, even upstate New York? Where is left to go? Even Canada isn’t safe.”
Read more stories on climateat https://www.apnews.com/Climate Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter at @borenbears.
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