Extreme Temperature Diary- Thursday August 17th, 2023/Main Topic: Climate change came for Maui. The rest of us are next.

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: Climate change came for Maui. The rest of us are next.

Dear Diary. Climate change signals and signs this year are just too numerical to count. The worst has been the massive wildfire at Lahaina, Hawaii partially brought about by drying on the lee side of the island as the world hears. We’ve seen numerous historic heatwaves across the U.S., which I’ve named for oil companies. Our ocean basins. such as the Atlantic, are at record warm temperatures, which is affecting fisheries and coral reefs. We’ll see if the other shoe drops in the Atlantic if we get a destructive landfalling hurricane in the U.S. later this year.

Climate change is ramping up and unfortunately, it’s coming for you. Eugene Robinson writing for the Washington Post expounds upon this theme. He usually writes about politics, so it’s interesting that he has delved into the climate topic:

Opinion | Climate change came for Maui, Hawaii — and we could be next – The Washington Post

Opinion  Climate change came for Maui. The rest of us are next.

By Eugene Robinson Columnist|Follow

August 14, 2023 at 3:53 p.m. EDT

Destroyed cars and houses are seen in Lahaina, Hawaii, on Sunday. (Mengshin Lin for The Washington Post)

Climate change, as scientists have long anticipated, is making the weather more extreme and unpredictable. This summer, we’re being taught the tragic lesson that we all need to prepare for “unlikely” disasters as well as familiar ones, and to look for risk in new places.

The deadly wildfires on Maui are the most horrifying example. One culprit in the death and devastation in the historic, now-gutted Hawaiian town of Lahaina: The surrounding hillsides were covered with nonnative, invasive grasses — originally planted on the island by humans — which burned explosively.

Those grasses were so dry and flammable because the island, especially the area around Lahaina, is experiencing a “flash drought.” In late May, none of the island was unusually dry, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Today, the whole island is either abnormally dry or experiencing moderate to severe drought. Scientists have warned that flash droughts will occur more frequently because of climate change.

The Maui fires were greatly intensified by high winds, caused by the combination of a strong high-pressure system to the north of the island and the powerful Hurricane Dora to the south. Those atmospheric forces worked together like an eggbeater, whipping winds with gusts of up to 80 miles per hour. Climate change has been predicted to intensify both high-pressure heat domes and tropical cyclones such as Dora.

Any of these things in isolation — the drought, the winds from the high-pressure system, the passing hurricane — could have created a problem for Maui. Happening all at once, they created what climate scientist Michael Mann, one of the originators of the “hockey stick” temperature graph depicting global warming and the director of the Penn Center for Science, Sustainability and the Media at the University of Pennsylvania, called “a ‘compound’ climate catastrophe.”

One lesson we must learn from Maui is that combinations of circumstances that we think of as unlikely might no longer be unlikely at all. And bad luck won’t be confined to small islands far away.

By now, there’s ample evidence of the danger and force of extreme heat alone. Globally, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, this past June was the hottest one recorded on the planet — and July was the hottest month since record keeping began 174 years ago, with average temperatures worldwide being 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit above the long-term average.

The city of Phoenix saw a record 31 consecutive days with high temperatures at or above 110 degrees; the string was finally broken by a day when the high was only 108. Punishing heat domes parked over much of the southern half of the country for much of the summer. Extreme heat and drought also plagued parts of Europe, North Africa and western China.

Maui is just the latest place to ignite. Canada is in the midst of its worst fire season in history, during which infernos generated smoke that choked cities in the United States. Thousands of tourists and residents had to be evacuated from the Greek island of Rhodes in July because of raging wildfires.

And rain might bring additional suffering instead of relief. In China, extreme heat was followed by two typhoons that made landfall, bringing the heaviest rainfall in Beijing in 140 years and causing floods that killed at least 62 people.

Here in the D.C. area, we have had two episodes of violent thunderstorms accompanied by anomalously strong winds featuring sharp, sudden downdrafts that ripped away roofs and downed power lines. At my house, we lost a couple of big sweet gum branches, which fell harmlessly into the yard. A few blocks away, a big oak tree crashed into a house.

What most of us haven’t adequately internalized yet is that this is how it’s going to be. We have changed the climate, which has changed the weather. We need to stop making things worse, which means switching from fossil fuels to clean energy sources. And we need to face the new reality we have forged.

The insurance industry is already making an adjustment that we all soon will feel. A report last week by the reinsurance giant Swiss Re calculated that severe thunderstorms in the United States accounted for 68 percent of insured natural catastrophe losses worldwide in the first half of this year. Reinsurance companies will pass along those costs to the primary insurers who cover your home and your car. Primary insurers will eventually pass along those costs to you — though imagine facing the random violence of extreme weather without insurance at all.

As individuals and as communities, we need to think more about worst-case scenarios and actively plan for them. We have an old hemlock tree in front of our house that’s near the end of its life span. I love it, but we’re going to have to take it down and plant a replacement — before a storm brings it down.

Climate change is personal. Act accordingly.

Opinion by Eugene Robinson Eugene Robinson writes a twice-a-week column on politics and culture and hosts a weekly online chat with readers. In a three-decade career at The Washington Post, Robinson has been city hall reporter, city editor, foreign correspondent in Buenos Aires and London, foreign editor, and assistant managing editor in charge of the paper’s Style section. Twitter

Here are some other “ET’s” recorded from around the planet the last couple of days, their consequences, and some extreme temperature outlooks, as well as any extreme precipitation reports:

Here is some more July 2023 climatology:

Here is more climate and weather news from Thursday.

(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.)

Today’s News on Sustainable and Traditional Polluting Energy from Fossil Fuel:

More on the Environment:

More from the Weather Department:

More on other science and the beauty of Earth and this universe:

If you like these posts and my work on record temperature ratios, please contribute via my PayPal widget on this site. Thanks in advance for any support. 

Guy Walton… “The Climate Guy”

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