Hot News: Extreme Weather Events of Summer 2019

Summer 2019 Weather Wrap-Up

September 30, 2019
Hot News: Temperature Map

Figure 1. U.S. temperature variances, May–July 2019.

NOAA

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A number of weather and climatological events—heat waves, heavy rain, forest fires—have recently been in the news. Some of them have affected us directly, while others have had major impacts elsewhere. Here’s a weather wrap-up of notable events from the summer of 2019.

Record-Setting Heat Waves

There were record-setting heat waves in Europe and Alaska this past summer, as the World Meteorological Organization found June 2019 to be the hottest June ever recorded based upon average global temperatures and July 2019 at least tied for the hottest month ever recorded.

Europe experienced two major heat waves.

  1. The first, in late June, was caused by high pressure that brought air from the Sahara Desert to southwestern and central Europe, resulting in the hottest June ever recorded in Europe. The worst of the heat occurred on June 28, when the French town of Gallargues-le-Montueux had the highest temperature ever reported in that country when the mercury soared to 115°F.
  2. On July 24–25, several other countries in Europe reported their highest temperatures ever recorded, including 107.2°F in Begijnendijk, Belgium; 108.7°F in Lingen, Germany; 105.4°F in Steinsel, Luxembourg; 105.3°F in Gilze en Rijen, Netherlands; 101.7°F at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden in the United Kingdom; and 96.1°F in Mosjøen, Norway. Meanwhile, monthly or daily record highs were set in several other European nations.

North America featured baked Alaska, as the 49th state experienced its hottest day ever recorded, on July 6—only to exceed that record the next day. Anchorage hit 90°F on July 4, shattering its previous all-time record high of 85°F. Other cities that crushed their all-time record highs in the period from June 30 to July 7 included Kena, King Salmon, and Northway, with many other locales posting their hottest July temperatures on record.

In the contiguous states, temperatures from May through July have also been hotter than normal from the Gulf of Mexico northward through the Midwest and northeastward to southern New England. Temperatures have also been above normal in the Pacific Northwest, and below normal elsewhere, especially in the Rockies and High Plains (see Figure 1).

Wetness and Warmth

In some parts of the U.S., corn prices are higher than usual due to heavy spring rains that delayed the planting of corn and soybeans in the Heartland and Ohio Valley. While the weather since then has been mostly favorable for these crops, delays in planting have led to smaller crops and rising prices. Our best wishes certainly go out to all of the farmers and ranchers who are having a tough time.

Another thing: If, like me, you like avocados in your salads and sandwiches, you will have to pay more in the coming months, as a heat wave this past July in California has reduced this year’s state avocado harvest from more than 300 million pounds to only about 175 million.

What’s up with all of the wetness and warmth? Our weather patterns have been dominated by an upper atmospheric ridge in the east, which has allowed for heat to build up, while a persistent upper atmospheric trough has brought cooler Canadian air into the Plains and Rockies. In between, the clash of air masses created a battle zone from Missouri through Ohio, bringing storminess, heavy rains, and flooding.

Forest Fires

Elsewhere around the world, fires have been in the news, as the Brazilian rain forest has had the most fires since at least 2013 (up 85 percent since last year), causing the Brazilian government to declare a state of emergency. July and August are typically the driest months in the Amazon rain forest, and fires are often set to clear out the land for ranching or farming. A satellite image of Brazil (see Figure 2) clearly shows the smoke plumes from the fires, which may have dire consequences for Earth’s atmosphere.

brazilian-satellite-imagex1000_full_width.jpg
Figure 2. Smoke plumes from Brazilian forest fires.

The early stages of the California wildfire season were relatively mild, although the period from now through December is expected to have the greatest risk as seasonal Santa Ana winds pick up. Meanwhile, wildfires in British Columbia have been more numerous and destructive than usual, sparked largely by lightning strikes.

Melting Ice Caps

Finally, although melting ice caps in the Arctic hold the promise of allowing shorter ice-free routes for shipping, there was still enough ice for a female blue fox, just short of her first birthday, to travel more than 2,700 miles from Spitsbergen, Norway, to Ellesmere Island in Nunavut, Canada, last year. It seems that foxes must be more advanced than humans—none of my children could even walk at that age.    

For long-range weather predictions for this fall 2019 through summer 2020, pick up a copy of The 2020 Old Farmer’s Almanac! Here’s where to find the 2020 edition.

Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

Can' fix stupid.

It is shocking that in this moment of history everyone is a "expert". Give some poor soul a smart phone and now they believe they have a PHD in atmospheric science. Same poor souls that believe in the National Enquire, Elvis sightings, and Big Foot....... and I should trust their ignorance in science to direct my children and grand children future? Why not make the world a cleaner, healthier place to live. Can't fix stupid.

More Fake News

C'mon, Farmers' Almanac.
Cut the Global Warming Rhetoric. Get back to your ORIGINAL FORECASTING FORMULA,
as your "new" one, is MORE WRONG than right. I may cancel my annual subscription if you keep on this fake news dreck.
Our Summer in Wisconsin was way cooler than "normal", (measured in MY lifetime).
Who cares about the Least Coast and Left Coast? (East and West coasts). They are ALWAYS whining outside of their air-conditioned buildings and cars.
MOST of the USA is, "in between". Don't ya know?

weather or not...

The Editors's picture

The info above is not a forecast, but a backcast: a look at what occured. As for our forecast for Wisconsin, which is wholly in Region 9, we did predict slightly cooler than normal temperatures—specifically in May (right; that’s not summer exactly but it gets us in the mood for summer), August, and September (which has about three official weeks of summer). June and July were predicted to have average or 1°F above-average temps, respectively. What’s more the actual averages are mid-50s in May and September, and mid- to upper 60s in June, July, and August. So “hot” was never really expected/predicted.

You reference “normal” as meaning in your lifetime. Fair enough, lots of people do. But normals/averages used by The Old Farmer’s Almanac, as well as newspapers, radio, TV, and virtually any other media in the world is based on 30 specific years. Any reference to “average” or “normal,” as in “above” or “below” one of those, relates to weather during the period 1981–2010, which is the 30-year period upon which current  averages/normals are based. This period was established by the World Meteorological Society in 1901, and has evolved into a 30-year rolling period that advances 10 years every ten years. E.g., averages/normals will be recalculated and issued based on 1991–2020 soon. You can read more about this here: https://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/2010BAMS2955.1 

Thank you for caring so much!

Climate Change

Personal scepticism over climate change cannot change the facts. Melting permafrost in the Arctic, record forest fires in British Columbia and Albert, rising sea levels and record floods both in Canada and the US are facts. The number and severity of hurricanes originating in the Atlantic and doing massive damage to the east coast of the US, Canada and the Caribbean are the result of increasing sea level temperatures. The failure of salmon populations on the Pacific coast of both countries caused in large part by the warming oceans and unavailability of krill affect both the human fishery and the ability of whales, grizzlies, and other large mammals to survive let alone thrive. Please wake up.

global conditions

The Editors's picture

Thanks, Dale! We are awake, with eyes open!

warmer than usual

I see that the data supporting the above theory is supposedly from NOAA.
However; I have been logging data personally observed and I must dispute the graphics on the map showing SE Washington being 2 degrees warmer than previous, and my state (which is in the south), being no change. I have been logging data personally observed from both places and data shows they were both LOWER than normal.
Also, I've read that some South American scientists are taking offense at the media coverage of the Brazilian fires. These scientists are saying the fires are normal in number and size as they occur every year around this time...

normal?

The Editors's picture

Thanks, Boballooie. We applaud your tracking your local weather conditions. It’s certainly possible that in your immediate vicinity, your “micro-climate,” you might get results that vary—and possibly dramatically—from the more global picture represented by the graphic. All kinds of factors can generate your different results, from land slope and Sun facing to the presence of heat, like stone or heat-holding walls/structures, to shade. Something to keep in mind, too, is that NOAA info is often sourced at official weather stations. The 2010 Old Farmer’s Almanac has a story on this that goes into great detail

As in other responses here, I once again call your attention to “normals”/”averages”: Any reference to “average” or “normal,” as in above or below one of those, relates to 1981–2010, which is the 30-year period upon which averages/normals are based. This period was established by the World Meteorological Society in 1901, and has evolved into a 30-year rolling period that advances 10 years every ten years. E.g., averages/normals will be recalculated and issued based on 1991–2020 soon. You can read more about this here: https://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/2010BAMS2955.1

Weather...

I find it interesting how the data used to support these claims of "hottest" ever only uses data from 1981-2010. We have records that go back as far as 1895-2017 that show this claim isn't correct.

weather records

Thank you for your comment, Debra. Weather has been tracked and recorded for thousands of years. However, systematic, commonly held practices and procedures—not to mention equipment—have only been used since the late 1800s. Some sources say 1895, some say about 15 years earlier. Any reference to “average” or “normal,” as in above or below one of those, relates to 1981–2010, which is the 30-year period upon which averages/normals are based. This period was established by the World Meteorological Society in 1901, and has evolved into a 30-year rolling period that advances 10 years every ten years. E.g., averages/normals will be recalculated and issued based on 1991–2020 soon. You can read more about this here: https://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/2010BAMS2955.1  So records for “ever” and averages/normals can coexist.

 

climate records

I used to be able to access record highs and lows for my area on Weather Underground, but they stopped publishing that data. I am skeptical of all this weather alarmism, particularly when it‘s not backed up by reliable and official sources.

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