By Seth Borenstein
20 September 2016
WASHINGTON (Associated Press) – This summer’s weather was relentless and hellish, crowded with the type of record-smashing extremes that scientists have long warned about.
The season ends Wednesday, and not a moment too soon. Summer featured floods that killed hundreds of people and caused more than $50 billion in losses around the globe, from Louisiana and West Virginia to China, India, Europe, and the Sudan. Meanwhile, droughts parched croplands and wildfires burned from California to Canada to China and India. Toss in unrelenting record heat.
From June to August, there were at least 10 different weather disasters that each caused more than $1 billion in losses, according to insurance industry tallies . With summer weather now seemingly stretching from May to September, extreme weather in that span killed well more than 2,000 people. And that’s without a major hurricane hitting a big U.S. city, although the Pacific had its share of deadly and costly storms, among them Typhoon Nepartak, which killed 111 people in Asia.
“It is representing I think a notch up for the impacts we have had to deal with,” U.S. National Weather Service Director Louis Uccellini said. “We’ve experienced an increasing number and a disturbing number of weather extremes this summer.”
While flooding made the news, the “sneaky” thing about the summer was heat that did not even ease at night, said Deke Arndt, climate monitoring chief at the federal National Centers for Environmental Information in Asheville, North Carolina. When temperatures drop to below 72 (22.22 Celsius) at night it allows the body to recharge, plants to grow and air conditioners to be shut off. But this year that didn’t happen enough.
The U.S. as a nation set a record for the hottest nighttime temperatures on average this summer, Arndt said. Tallahassee, Florida, for example, went 74 consecutive days where the nighttime temperature didn’t dip below 72.
From May 1 to Sept. 12, nearly 15,000 daily records for warmest nighttime lows were set in the United States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data.
“This is one of the clearest signals we expect for climate change,” said Mark Bove, a New Jersey-based senior research meteorologist for re-insurance giant Munich RE, which tracks natural disasters . “It keeps a blanket on you particularly at night. We cannot radiate the heat away at night as the planet used to.”
While records were broken, the summer has “been more notable for the consistency of the heat than individual high-impact heatwaves,” said Blair Trewin of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and the World Meteorological Organization.
For example, Savannah, Georgia, had a record 69 days in a row of 90 degrees (32.22 Celsius) or higher.
Twelve U.S. cities had their warmest summers ever, including Las Vegas, New Orleans, Cleveland and Detroit. The globe had its hottest month on record (July) and hottest summer on record. August was the 16th consecutive month Earth set a monthly heat record, according to NOAA. […]
NASA chief climate scientist Gavin Schmidt said the records keep showing the planet warming and “since we kind of predicted these things we know what we’re talking about.” [more]