You could call it, “weather gone weird.” Climate out of control might be a more appropriate name.
A rare October severe weather risk in Minnesota. 100 degrees in Kansas on October 17th? The hottest September on record globally. A NASA scientist says 2016 is now “locked in” as earth’s next new ‘warmest year on record’ globally.
The thread that ties it all together? All are symptoms of a dramatically warmer planet earth.
So, what’s the big picture here? How is our unusually warm October globally manifesting on a local level? How do we evaluate extreme, even unprecedented weather in the bigger climate context?
Monday’s weather extremes provide some interesting examples when viewed through the lens of a warmer climate.
Minnesota: Rare October severe weather
Thunder is heard in the Twin Cities an average of 1.8 days in October. The majority of thunder usually occurs in the first half of the month. Thunder and a severe weather risk on October 17th? That’s unusual. A few storms reached severe limits, some with hail and gusty winds through this evening.
Kansas to Chicago: Record October heat
We’re not just setting daily temperature records here folks. Thermometers in Dodge City Kansas recorded 100 degrees Monday for the first time ever in October.
— NWS Dodge City (@NWSDodgeCity) October 17, 2016
In fact, Monday’s temperature map looks more July than October from Omaha to Chicago southward.
— NWS Omaha (@NWSOmaha) October 17, 2016
— NWS Des Moines (@NWSDesMoines) October 17, 2016
2016: Next ‘hottest year on record globally’
The big picture? Yet another warmest year on record globally driving unprecedented temperatures locally. NASA’s Gavin Schmidt says after the September data we’re now “locked in” for 2016 as the new record warmest year globally.
With data now available through September, 2016 annual record (~1.25ºC above late 19th C) seems locked in. pic.twitter.com/Btp3Vutakn
— Gavin Schmidt (@ClimateOfGavin) October 17, 2016
University of St. Thomas Thermal Sciences Professor Dr. John Abraham came to the same conclusion earlier this month, and has another way to visualize just how ‘off the charts’ the 2016 data is.
A ‘step change” in earth’s climate?
2016 makes 3 years in a row that our planet has set the ‘warmest year on record’ globally. That’s unprecedented in the modern climate record since 1880. The unprecedented magnitude of earth’s temperature spike the past 3 years has some scientists asking, is this a bigger ‘step change’ in earth’s climate system?
Most climate scientists recognize the recent El Nino role in boosting global temps. But as the tropical Pacific now cools, global temperatures remain at record levels. One benchmark of note; atmospheric CO2 levels in 2016 will likely remain above 400 ppm for the first time on record.
Climate scientists and journalists are often hesitant to connect the dots between individual, unseasonable extreme weather events and climate change. But the previously faint lines between the dots are getting bolder with every new record warmest month and year.