The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track planetary extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials).😉
Main Topic: Assessment Of Heatwave Beta…In Retrospect It Became A CAT 5
Dear Diary. What a week of logging records coming mainly from Beta, which is still going on as a CAT2 heatwave across portions of the Pacific Northwest and Canada. Now we are beginning to see some reports of how many people expired from the heat. So, did I do a fairly good job categorizing Beta using my own rules? Maybe not.
Hurricane forecasters often get systems reassessed after they have made landfall. In 1992 Andrew made landfall as a CAT4, but after damage was reassessed the system was upgraded to a CAT5 briefly along its historic track. The same thing happened with Michael, which was a very unusual October CAT5 hurricane that made landfall in the Florida Panhandle in 2018. Now, after seeing reports of hundreds of deaths and getting reports of hundreds of all-tine records, some set by more than five degrees above prior records, it would appear that Beta was a CAT5 as Lytton, British Columbia was approaching an all-time max of 121°F in Tuesday 6/27.
Let’s state that Beta was a CAT5 catastrophic heatwave from Sunday 6/25 to Tuesday 6/27. Sunday was the day that Beta broke Canada’s all-time record max at Lytton. On Monday wildfires burned the small town of Lytton to the ground, which I’m sure was catastrophic for its unfortunate residents. Other CAT5’s that come to mind are the European heatwave of 2003, which killed thousands, the Russian heatwave of 2010, which killed hundreds, and the U.S, heatwaves from the 1930s, which were part of the dustbowl and displaced thousands of people.
Dr. Jeff Masters and Bob Henson have written an excellent report on Beta in Yale Climate Connections, which I will share for your Saturday reading:
Western Canada burns and deaths mount after world’s most extreme heat wave in modern history
It’s not hype or exaggeration to call the past week’s heat wave the most extreme in world weather records.
by BOB HENSON and JEFF MASTERS
JULY 1, 2021
Wildfires exploded in the record-hot air over southern British Columbia on Wednesday, June 30, producing several massive fire-generated thunderstorms. The ‘pyrocu’ spit out lightning and cast the massive evening shadows seen in this satellite image from 0210Z Thursday, July 1, 2021 (7:10 pm PDT Wednesday). Climate scientist Daniel Swain called the event “a literal firestorm.” (Image credit: RAMMB/CIRA/CSU)
struck the U.S. Pacific Northwest U.S. and far southwest Canada. It’s virtually certain to be the deadliest weather event on record for the region. The unprecedented death toll is the result of a heat onslaught more intense by some measures than anything in global records, yet very much in line with the expected impacts of a human-warmed climate.
The poster community of this horrific episode has to be Lytton, British Columbia. The town broke Canada’s longstanding all-time national high temperature of 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) with a high of 46.6°C (116°F) on Sunday, June 27. The next day brought 47.9°C (118.2°F), and Tuesday a stunning 49.6°C (121°F).
The intense heat flash-dried the rugged, forested landscape, and wildfires mushroomed across the area on Wednesday, June 30. By evening, the entire town of Lytton was under mandatory evacuation orders, and Mayor Jan Polderman told CBC News that “the whole town is on fire.” Most homes in Lytton have been destroyed, according to provincial authorities.
The lighting from the dry thunderstorms (pyrocumulonimbus) that developed was so intense that over 700,000 intracloud and cloud-to-ground lightning flashes were recorded in 15 hours, including more than 100,000 cloud-to-ground strikes. That’s about 5% of the total number of lightning flashes Canada typically sees in an entire year (see Tweet below).
The fires have generated huge clouds of choking smoke that put air quality in the red “Unhealthy” range in Kamloops, British Columbia, on Thursday.
A grim tally of heat deaths
This heat disaster’s tragic nature is evident even in initial data. British Columbia has reported 486 sudden deaths, three times more than usual for this time of year. At least 16 people died of heat-related causes in Seattle. And in Multnomah County, Oregon, which includes Portland, the county medical examiner announced in a poignant news release on Wednesday that 45 residents had died as a result of excessive heat.
“The preliminary cause of death is hyperthermia,” the county said. “The people who died ranged in age from 44 to 97 and include 17 women and 27 men … Many had underlying health conditions. Many of those who died were found alone, without air conditioning or a fan.”
Similarly, many of those who died in British Columbia were found alone in unventilated homes, according to the chief coroner of British Columbia, Lisa Lapointe, as cited by BBC.
The eventual death toll from this heat wave is likely to be much higher than current estimates, according to Kristie Ebi, a professor of global health at the University of Washington. Death certificates need to be gathered and analyzed from multiple areas, and the underlying and contributing causes of death ascertained (a challenge in itself). So it can take months to fully calculate the number of “excess deaths” related to a regional heat wave, as explained in detail in a YCC post last December.
“Those numbers are only going to go up,” Ebi said. Focusing only on factors such as heat stroke “gives you a massive underestimate of the overall [death toll].” Many heat wave deaths are triggered by respiratory and cardiovascular failures often under-recognized as being related to the torrid, often-polluted air of a heat wave.
If there’s one thing Ebi wants to avoid, it’s thinking of this catastrophic heat wave as the “new normal,” which she calls “really misleading” as it actually underestimates the gravity of the situation. “It implies we’re going from one state to another state. We’re in a period when there’s going to be ongoing change for decades.
“The new normal is not the current temperature. The new normal is the constant change.”
Otherworldly heat records
Never in the century-plus history of world weather observation have so many all-time heat records fallen by such a large margin than in the past week’s historic heat wave in western North America. The only heat wave that compares is the great Dust Bowl heat wave of July 1936 in the U.S. Midwest and south-central Canada. But even that cannot compare to what happened in the Northwest U.S. and western Canada over the past week.
“This is the most anomalous regional extreme heat event to occur anywhere on Earth since temperature records began. Nothing can compare,” said weather historian Christopher Burt, author of the book “Extreme Weather.”
Pointing to Lytton, Canada, he added, “There has never been a national heat record in a country with an extensive period of record and a multitude of observation sites that was beaten by 7°F to 8°F.”
International weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera (@extremetemps) agrees. “What we are seeing now is totally unprecedented worldwide,” said Herrera, who tweeted on June 30, “It’s an endless waterfall of records being smashed.”
Some examples of the extremity of this event, based on preliminary data:
• Portland, Oregon, broke its longstanding all-time record high (107°F from 1965 and 1981) on three days in a row – a stunning feat for any all-time record – with highs of 108°F on Saturday, June 26; 112°F on Sunday; and 116°F on Monday. That 116°F is one degree higher than the average daily high on June 28 at Death Valley, California.
• Quillayute, Washington, broke its official all-time high by a truly astonishing 11°F, after hitting 110°F on Monday (old record: 99°F on August 9, 1981). Quillayute is located near the lush Hoh Rain Forest on the Olympic Peninsula, just three miles from the Pacific Ocean, and receives an average of 100 inches of precipitation per year.
• Jasper, Alberta, broke its all-time high of 36.7°C (98.1°F) on four days in a row, June 27-30, with highs of 37.3°C, 39.0°C, 40.3°C, and 41.1°C (99.1°F, 102.2°F, 104.5°F, and 106°F).
• All-time state highs were tied in Washington (118°F at Dallesport) and set in Oregon (118°F at Hermiston, beating the reliable record of 117°F), and provincial highs were smashed in British Columbia (49.6°C at Lytton, beating 39.1°C) and Northwest Territories (39.9°C at Fort Smith, beating 31.7°C).
According to Herrera, more all-time heat records have been broken by at least 5°C (9°F) in the past week’s heat wave than in the previous 84-plus years of world weather recordkeeping, going back to July 1936. It’s worth noting that the record North American heat of the 1930s, including 1936, was largely connected to the Dust Bowl, in which the effects of a multiyear drought were amplified by over-plowed, denuded soil across the Great Plains – an example of human-induced climate change itself, albeit temporary.
Preliminary data from NOAA’s U.S. Records website shows that 55 U.S. stations had the highest temperatures in their history in the week ending June 28. More than 400 daily record highs were set. Over the past year, the nation has experienced about 38,000 daily record highs versus about 18,500 record lows, consistent with the 2:1 ratio of hot to cold records set in recent years.
Figure 1. A soaked belt across the central U.S. and a parched West are evident in this map of percentages of average precipitation for the seven-day period ending at 8 a.m. EDT Thursday, July 1, 2021. (Image credit: NOAA/NWS/AHPS)
For more just click the following link:
More “ET’s from Friday and Saturday:
Here is some more climatology from June 2021:
Here are notes on Elsa:
Here is another “ET” from Saturday:
Here is more climate and weather news from Saturday:
(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article. The most noteworthy items will be listed first.)
Now here are some of today’s articles and notes on the horrid COVID-19 pandemic:
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Guy Walton “The Climate Guy”