July 14, 2024

Another round of dangerous heat arrives during a dangerously hot summer

An excessively hot summer across the U.S. rolls on this week as another stretch of dangerously hot temperatures spreads from I-5 to I-95.

Temperatures could easily crest the century mark for many locations over the next couple of days as broad ridges of high pressure rule the roost to start the week.

Tuesday will feature the worst temperatures, with 100-degree readings expected in Oklahoma City, Nashville, Washington, and Philadelphia. The high heat will stretch all the way into New England, where daytime highs in the 90s will reach into Maine.

Humidity will make the heat exceptionally dangerous in many of these locations, with heat indices exceeding 105 for many communities. 

The National Weather Service's new HeatRisk product shows widespread "major" to "extreme" impacts from this latest bout of high heat.

Folks living with chronic health conditions, working outside, or living without air conditioning will feel the greatest impacts from this latest heat wave. Heat exhaustion or heat stroke can develop in under an hour with these conditions.

Very warm and humid nights won't provide much relief from the blazing daytime temperatures. The compounding effects of hot days and steamy nights will make this especially tough for folks without adequate cooling at home. Fans alone won't be enough to combat this heat.

This is the latest volley of blistering temperatures during an already-hot summer across almost all of the United States.

Source: IEM

Data collected by the Iowa Environmental Mesonet shows that just about everyone save for the northern Plains and Upper Midwest has dealt with above-average temperatures so far this season. Much of the excessive heat has been driven by warmer-than-normal nighttime low temperatures, a side effect of the increased humidity we've seen this season.

Source: IEM

Folks across the Southwest have taken the brunt of the extreme heat this year, with week after week of brutally hot temperatures roasting the region. Phoenix has seen above-average temperatures on 163 of the 195 days we've trudged through so far in 2024. The last time they saw a below-average day was at the beginning of May.

Source: IEM

It's not just the Southwest dealing with the heat. It's a similar story back east. Washington, D.C., has seen above-average temperatures for 78 percent of the year through Saturday, July 13, and we're about to add another week of excessive heat to those grim statistics.

The relentless heat we've seen so far this year is exactly what you'd expect to see in a changing climate. Temperatures have steadily risen each decade across just about the entire United States—and we're even outpacing the new climate standards that run from 1991 to 2020. 

Source: Climate Central

Climate change sets a new baseline for extreme heat throughout the United States and around the world. As the entire frame of reference moves toward a hotter climate, warm temperature extremes are far more likely that cold temperature extremes. Excessive heat will come in hotter than what we grew used to just one or two generations ago.

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July 1, 2024

Hurricane Beryl's explosive intensification is a grim warning for future storms

Hurricane Beryl rapidly strengthened into a category four storm this weekend with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph. The storm became the earliest category four hurricane ever observed in the Atlantic Ocean, beating the previous record by a full week.

This was far from the first record this relatively young storm broke early in its life.

Beryl was the earliest hurricane we've ever seen so far east in the tropical Atlantic. It was the first major hurricane in this part of the world during the months of June or July. It's going to be the strongest hurricane to hit the Windward Islands this early in the season.

The storm's rate of intensification places it among a very small group of any Atlantic hurricane observed since modern records began in 1851. Meteorologist Sam Lillo crunched the numbers and posted Sunday that the storm's rapid intensification is unheard of this early in the season, matched only by a handful of historical storms that formed at the peak of the season in August and September.

What gives?

Experts have been worried that we're in for a very active hurricane season this year. Seasonal outlooks from NOAA and Colorado State University both called for a tremendous number of storms—so many, in fact, that we may exhaust the list of names for only the third time since the 1950s.

The ingredients behind an active season aren't just about the raw number of storms that form. After all, we had Tropical Storm Chris in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday. The storm lasted for less than a day as it formed while making landfall on Mexico's east coast.

SOURCE: Tropical Tidbits

While we'll probably have plenty of short-lived and forgettable storms, the ingredients present across the Atlantic are favorable for creating storms like Beryl.

Warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures are running as hot now as they should at the peak of the season. Combine that with favorable atmospheric conditions expected as La NiƱa develops and the ingredients are there for explosive development of any healthy tropical disturbance that can take root and take advantage of its environment.

We (hopefully) won't see more record-breaking storms this year. But Beryl makes it clear that the environment is more than capable of supporting very intense storms this hurricane season. This early-season storm is a warning shot to prepare emergency kits and emergency plans now rather than waiting until the peak of the season. It could be a long summer.

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