The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that March of this year was the warmest March on record. Temperatures across the U.S. were on average almost ten degrees above normal. NOAA also reported that the first three months of the year were six degrees higher than normal; the warmest first quarter on record since record keeping started in 1895. ( It seems a rather stark contrast to the current weather patterns in the UK for 2012 so far as record rainfall has taken its toll and some say that summer might never arrive)
In the first week of July, more than 3,500 U.S. high temperature records were broken. In the same time period, 113 million people suffered through extreme heat advisories, and at least 52 heat-related fatalities were reported. Thousands were encouraged to seek shelter in air-conditioned public buildings. Recently, the saddest statistic of all was released; in the first three weeks of summer, 11 children died after being left in cars.
From Wildfires to Heat Wave, Extreme Weather Batters U.S.
Heat Related Disasters
Adding to this misery were floods, tornadoes, droughts, freak windstorms and wild fires. One day at the end of June, in a 12 hour period, a severe line of thunderstorms barreled across 700 miles of the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states killing 13 people and leaving millions without power. The storm was labeled a “ derecho.” These storms can produce tornado like destruction but the wind direction and path of destruction is in a straight line more or less.
Across the country there were reports of buckled highways melting from the heat. Train tracks expanding in the heat forcing slowdowns and at least one derailment. In the West, wild fires have consumed 2.1 million acres so far this year. Summer is only a month old. What will the rest of the summer bring for the US?
Climate Change in Action
Incredibly, some still debate whether or not global warming is real, in fact this week on an ABC Sunday news program, columnist, George Will, described the weather of the past few weeks in one simple word, “summer.” Other climate change deniers are changing their tune, so to speak. Decades earlier, climate deniers literally scoffed at the idea that global warming was real. Today many admit that the weather has been extreme but cite the fact that some weather events appear to be localized as opposed to global in extent which to them means the earth is not heating up. Climate scientists traditionally look at trends rather than isolated weather events. The majority of climate scientists are in agreement that the temperature trend is up; the earth is warming.
Many believe that what we are seeing this year is climate change in action. The severe weather events we’re experiencing today seem to have been taken right out of the global warming predictions of the past 20 years.
Peter Wendt is a writer and researcher who plans to sweat out the summer in Austin, TX. He recommends Autumn HVAC for readers in need of an Austin AC company to beat the heat.