The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track global 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: Checkup on Heatwave Falkor
Dear Diary. Conditions across most of the West continue to get more dire with each passing day. The historic drought there is producing positive feedbacks such that we are seeing more heat waves in that corner of the world.
Here is where we are with are latest heatwave, Falkor:
For some model runs, the GFS was forecasting a big 597 decameter ridge centered over Utah during the Labor Day holiday weekend. Thankfully, it looks like we will see a weaker heat dome during this weekend, but now the FDS does not forecast the thing to peak until next Wednesday. We will see:
Suffice it to say, conditions will be miserable for millions for at least a week; thus, my CAT4 designation. Will we see hundreds perish because of Falkor? That is possible given the number of homeless people on the streets of California and/or the possibility of fast moving/developing fires.
Here is today’s comprehensive report on Falkor from the Washington Post:
Blistering heat wave in West sets records, escalates fire danger
Temperatures in California’s Central Valley could top 110 degrees
By Matthew Cappucci and Diana Leonard
September 2, 2022 at 1:31 p.m. EDT
Downtown skyline during a heat wave in Los Angeles on Sept. 1. (Eric Thayer/Bloomberg News)
Nearly 40 million Americans are under excessive heat warnings as a sprawling, intense heat dome delivers “extremely hot temperatures” across the West. Dangerous conditions are possible in California’s highly populous Central Valley through the middle of next week, and highs could top 110 degrees.
The brutal heat is taxing power grids, sparking wildfire concerns and posing a danger to the homeless, elderly and other vulnerable populations. It’s an episode notable for its intensity, duration and coverage — on Wednesday and Thursday, there were records broken from California to the northern Rockies.
Roads were closed for hours in both directions as the Route Fire burned near Castaic, Calif., on Aug. 31. (David Swanson/Reuters)
The state’s grid operator, California ISO, is calling for customers to voluntarily conserve electricity between 4 and 9 p.m. Friday — the third day in a row to feature a Flex Alert, with more possible over the holiday weekend. California ISO is also asking residents to “precool” their homes by setting the thermostat to 72 degrees in the morning, and then raising it to 78 degrees after 4 p.m.
“The power grid operator is again expecting high electricity demand, primarily from air conditioning use, and needs voluntary conservation steps to help balance supply and demand,” the agency wrote.
Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has declared a state of emergency to free up state resources to address the extreme heat. The proclamation notes that, by Monday, energy demand could exceed 48,000 megawatts, the greatest load of the year.
Highs will run 10 to 20 degrees above average for the western third of the nation, courtesy of a stagnant heat dome, or ridge of high pressure, parked over the Great Basin of Nevada. It won’t budge until Tuesday, and will bring hot, dry air that will sink and parch the landscape. The high will also act as a force field, deflecting any storm systems north toward Canada.
The heat will be more reminiscent of July than September across the Golden State, the Desert Southwest as well as Nevada.
Records set so far
A map of heat alerts issued by the National Weather Service. (Pivotal Weather)
A litany of records were approached or surpassed across the western U.S. on Friday, and some monthly records are in jeopardy through the coming days. Here’s a look at some of the cities that have tied or broken records:
- Salt Lake City established a new monthly record high for the month of September on Thursday after hitting 102 degrees. The previous record was 100 degrees. It also marks the 28th day so far this year to reach 100 degrees in the Utah capital; the previous record was 21 times last year, as well as in 1994 and 1960.
- Helena, Mont., hit 97 degrees Thursday, breaking the record of 96 set in 1955.
- Missoula, Mont., hit a record high of 99 degrees Wednesday, breaking the previous record of 94 set in 1929.
- Lake Yellowstone, Wyo., made it to 80 degrees, breaking the record 0f 78 set in 2019.
- Lander, Wyo., peaked at 98 degrees Thursday, crushing a previous record of 94 degrees set in 1983 and 2019. Records there date back to 1891.Reno-Tahoe International Airport in Reno, Nev., hit 100 degrees Wednesday, tying a record. The site also hit 100 degrees Thursday, breaking a record of 99 set in 1950.
- Hanford, Calif., hit 105 degrees Thursday, tying a record set in 2017.
- Bob Hope Airport in Burbank climbed to 112 degrees Thursday, breaking a previous record of 108 set in 2017.
- The National Weather Service office in Seattle hit 89 degrees Wednesday, beating out the previous record from 1987.
- Yakima, Wash., broke a record of 97 degrees set in 1949 on Wednesday when the city hit 98.
- Dallesport, Pasco and Ellensburg, Wash., logged record highs Thursday, and capped off a record-warm August on Wednesday.
More records coming
The National Weather Service’s predicted high temperatures for Monday. (Pivotal Weather)
Continued record-setting warmth is likely in the coming days, with the heat reaching a dangerous crescendo Tuesday. The National Weather Service warned that “extreme heat will significantly increase the potential for heat related illnesses, particularly for those working or participating in outdoor activities over the holiday weekend.”
Some of the hottest weather will be found in California’s Central Valley, including Sacramento, where highs could hit 110 degrees Monday and Tuesday. That would beat records of 108 and 109 set in 1988 and 2020, respectively.
Sacramento has already had three dozen days at or above 100 degrees this year, and will probably reach the record of 41 days by the middle of next week.
Redding, Calif., is predicted to see highs of 109 both Monday and Tuesday, and even downtown Los Angeles should climb to about 103 degrees Sunday.
The only place to adequately beat the heat will be along the immediate coastline, like in the San Francisco Bay area, where comparatively manageable highs in the upper 70s to near 80 are expected.
There’s even a chance that Death Valley, Calif., could meet or exceed its record of 125 degrees, which would be the hottest ever observed there during the month of September. The temperature made it to 124.4 degrees Thursday. If Death Valley nicks 126 degrees, it would tie a global record for the month of September.
Early outlooks hint that, after a brief tempering of the heat dome Tuesday, a resurgence of heat in the western U.S. could be in the cards. It may even last until mid-September.
Dangerous fire weather
The record-breaking heat is fueling wildfires in several Western states, exacerbating parched conditions brought on by years of drought stress and unusually hot weather this summer.
The Cedar Creek Fire near Eugene, Ore., was exploding in size Friday morning, ahead of winds that are forecast to pick up later in the day. It’s one of several forest fires actively burning in the state. Wildfires are also spreading in Idaho, where numerous temperature records fell this week.
In San Diego County near the U.S.-Mexico border, the Border23 Fire grew to nearly 4,400 acres Wednesday and destroyed several structures, including three homes.
Forest fires have been burning more actively, including Oregon’s Rum Creek Fire, which is threatening several thousand structures, and the Sturgill Fire in the northeastern part of the state.
Conditions are predicted to worsen as the heat wave peaks over the Labor Day weekend.
Gusty winds expected Friday and Saturday could also lead to rapid spread of new and existing fires.
The Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center is warning of “critical fire weather” in Northern California, Nevada and Oregon as an upper-level trough passes through the region. Red Flag Warnings for high fire danger have been issued in several states, from California to Washington, Idaho and Montana.
The forecast is particularly concerning for California, where scorching temperatures this weekend will send vegetation to “ultra-flammable” levels, according to a forecast for Northern California from the National Interagency Fire Center’s Predictive Services. Periods of wind, combined with warm nights and low humidity, would further challenge firefighters who are already working through dangerous heat.
“Fires that become well established will spread through all fuel types with near total consumption the next several days,” another forecast for Southern California says.
Carlos Molina, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Hanford, Calif., said that soaring temperatures of up to 107 degrees would reach into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, a popular destination for visitors to national forests and national parks, including Yosemite National Park. While the Sierra did receive moisture from monsoon storms this summer, coverage was spotty and generally only ranged from a half inch to an inch, he said.
“The fire danger is extremely high at the moment,” he said. “It’s bone-dry out there.”
Ignitions tend to spike during holiday weekends because more people are outdoors.
This weekend, travelers will not only be exposed to serious heat risk but also to increased wildfire risk. On Labor Day weekend in 2020, campers and hikers in the Sierra Nevada were airlifted to safety after they became trapped by the explosive Creek Fire, which broke out amid record-shattering heat in the state.
Climate change has intensified wildfire risk because a warmer atmosphere can more easily pull water from soils and plants. Studies have shown that human-caused climate change is a major contributor to increased vegetation dryness and burned area in the western U.S., particularly in forests.
By Matthew Cappucci Matthew Cappucci is a meteorologist for Capital Weather Gang. He earned a B.A. in atmospheric sciences from Harvard University in 2019, and has contributed to The Washington Post since he was 18. He is an avid storm chaser and adventurer, and covers all types of weather, climate science, and astronomy. Twitter
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Other takes on Falkor:
Here are some “ET’s” recorded from around the planet the last couple of days, their consequences, and some extreme temperature outlooks. Records from Falkor are listed first:
Here is some more August and Summer 2022 climatology:
Here is more climate and weather news from Friday:
(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.)
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Guy Walton “The Climate Guy”