Extreme Temperature Diary- Monday January 1st, 2024/ Main Topic: Will 2024 Top 2023, Which Was the Warmest Year in Human History?

Extreme heat far outpaced cold in U.S. during record-warm 2023 – The Washington Post

Extreme heat far outpaced cold in U.S. during record-warm 2023

Warm weather records outnumbered cold ones by a factor of 3

Analysis by Ian Livingston Reporter

The year 2023 — which is set to become the Earth’s hottest on record — featured a disproportionate amount of extremely warm weather in the United States.

Record-warm calendar days outnumbered record-cold ones by a factor of three. The persistent hot weather led to heat-related illnesses and deaths, while intensifying extreme rainstorms in some areas and droughts and fires in others.

The disproportionate number of warm weather records in 2023 fits into a long-term increase driven by human-caused climate change. The strong El Niño event that developed this year also contributed to the warm weather extremes.

In the United States, there have been 41,703 calendar day temperature records and, of those, 31,230 were on the warm side compared to just 10,043 on the cool end (through Dec. 28). August alone had 5,701 warm records. And during this abnormally mild December, there have been only 53 cold weather records compared to a whopping 2,826 warm ones.

Warm weather records were also especially numerous during the hot summer months. Between July and September, warm weather records outnumbered cool ones by a factor of six.

How the year evolved

The year 2023 got off to a hot start with 165 warm weather records on Jan. 3 from the central states to the East Coast.

Jan. 3 became the first of 35 days in 2023 with 100 or more high temperature records; by comparison, there were just five days with 100 or more record low temperatures.

Spikes of abnormally warm temperatures continued in the late winter and spring. There were nearly 500 record highs set Feb. 22 and 23, while April 13 had just shy of 250.

June was the only month to feature more cool records than warm ones. But the peak summer months of July and August produced a torrent of heat records focused across the southern tier, expanding from the Desert Southwest to the Gulf Coast states.

The results by season

If the climate wasn’t changing, warm and cold records would tend to balance each other out over time. But since the 1970s, the balance has tilted heavily toward warm records, and 2023 fits into this trend, as shown in the month-by-month breakdown below:

January was one of the year’s most extreme months, with record highs outnumbering record lows by a factor of 6.5. Heat records outpaced cold ones during the spring, but by a factor of less than 2.

Then, summer heat sprang to life. From July to September, there were 11,557 warm records compared to just 1,834 cool ones.

During October, there were more than three times as many warm records as cool ones, but that ratio dropped to about 1.5 in November. The fall lull in extensive record heat was somewhat similar to what was observed in spring.

December has proven to be exceptionally warm, with about 53 warm records for every cold one. It’s poised to become the warmest December on record across a large swath of the northern tier, including in Fargo, N.D., Minneapolis and Milwaukee.

Some of the most memorable numbers

Although there were bouts of record-setting warmth throughout the year, the intensity of the heat was most extreme in July and August.

Following its coolest June since 2009, temperatures rose to unprecedented levels in Phoenix. With an average temperature of 102.7 degrees during July, the highest on record by nearly 4 degrees, Phoenix became the first major city in the United States to average 100 degrees or higher for a month. It also posted its second-hottest August and hottest summer overall, which included a record-setting 31-day stretch reaching at least 110 degrees.

During July and August, the core of the heat shifted east. El Paso sweltered through 70 days reaching at least 100 degrees, surpassing the old record of 62 days in 1994.

On Aug. 27, with a temperature of 105 degrees, New Orleans joined many others along the Gulf Coast in setting all-time record highs, including Baton Rouge (106 degrees), Houston (109), Mobile, Ala. (106) and Shreveport, La. (110).

The heat across the southern states helped push the Gulf of Mexico to record highs, while the water temperature surged to 101.1 degrees at a buoy just off the Florida coast.

By Ian Livingston Ian Livingston is a forecaster/photographer and information lead for the Capital Weather Gang. By day, Ian is a defense and national security researcher at a D.C. think tank. Twitter

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