US April-May heatwave, Hundreds dying in India as temperatures reach 50C

India: Hundreds die, death toll expected to rise as record temperatures soar up to 122F

June 1, 2010

UPDATE: Brutal heatwave in India discussed at the end.

Sure it was easily the hottest April — and hottest Jan-April — in NASA’s temperature record. And we set a new record 12-month global temperature, as predicted.

But you can’t expect Americans to believe in global warming if America isn’t setting records, can you? (see “One more reason that recent U.S. polling on global warming is down slightly“).

Well, we are setting records — as Steve Scolnik of CapitalClimate explains in his post, “All-Time May Monthly Heat Records Set in Massachusetts, Rhode Island.” The figure above, by Scolnik based on National Climatic Data Center data, might remind you of this must-have figure from a 2009 National Center for Atmospheric Research study:


This graphic shows the ratio of record daily highs to record daily lows observed at about 1,800 weather stations in the 48 contiguous United States from January 1950 through September 2009. Each bar shows the proportion of record highs (red) to record lows (blue) for each decade. The 1960s and 1970s saw slightly more record daily lows than highs, but in the last 30 years record highs have increasingly predominated, with the ratio now about two-to-one for the 48 states as a whole. (©UCAR, graphic by Mike Shibao.)

NCAR begins its release on this study (see “Record high temperatures far outpace record lows across U.S.“):

Spurred by a warming climate, daily record high temperatures occurred twice as often as record lows over the last decade across the continental United States, new research shows. The ratio of record highs to lows is likely to increase dramatically in coming decades if emissions of greenhouse gases continue to climb.

“Climate change is making itself felt in terms of day-to-day weather in the United States,” says Gerald Meehl, the lead author and a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). “The ways these records are being broken show how our climate is already shifting.”


May wasn’t as much of a record-annihilator as April, but as Scolnik reports:

June 1 Update: Updated figures for the entire month show heat records outnumbering cold records in May by over 40% (1054 vs. 748). For the week ending May 28, the ratio was almost 3:1. The number of heat records on May 26 has increased to 115 vs. only 7 cold records.

May 27 PM Update: The National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) reports that at total of 88 new daily high temperature records were set on May 26 in the U.S., following 164 on the previous day. A total of only 34 low temperature records were set on the 2 days. For the week ending yesterday, the ratio of heat records to cold records was about 2:1. Although January and February were relatively cold, May is continuing the trend of the last 3 months for the number of heat records to far exceed the number of cold records.

Original post:
Several all-time May heat records were broken or tied across New England on May 26. The high of 94° at Worcester was a new high for the month of May and broke the old daily high from 1932 by 4°. Providence also set a monthly record of 96°, breaking the old daily record from 1965 by 5°. The high of 99° at Hartford tied the May record and broke the old daily record from 1965 by 5°.

Daily temperature records were also widespread from Pennsylvania through New York and New England and into southern Canada, where an extreme heat alert was issued for the Toronto area. Toronto’s high of 31°C broke a record for the second straight day, and records were also set at Peterborough, Ottawa, North Bay and Sudbury. Canadian forecasters are anticipating a warmer than average summer following the warmest winter and warmest spring on record.

Settle down, anti-science disinformers who try to shout down any talk of a link between climate change and extreme weather. We all know that you can’t use a single weather event as evidence for or against climate change — unless of course that weather event is a big snowstorm [see "Massive
moisture-driven extreme precipitation during warmest winter in the satellite
record — and the disinformers say it disproves (!) climate science
]. That is why the nationwide record highs vs. record lows data is worth tracking.

Record-breaking high temperatures just aren’t “news” for the media — after all everybody “knows” it’s warming — whereas non-record-breaking cool temperatures, well, they merit mention in the very first sentence of anti-science tripe from a major newsweekly: “Blame economic worries, another freezing winter, or the cascade of scandals….” (see Why has a Newsweek economics editor, Stefan Theil, written “basically a condensed version of the climate denier viewpoint”?)

And for many if not most weather reporters, it’s all just one of the greatest coincidences in human history (see “The NYT once again equates non-scientists — Bastardi, Coleman, and Watts (!) — with climate scientists” and “Is that airlifted snow on your Olympic ski mountain, or is your enormous helicopter just happy to see me?“)

Sadly, for the rest of us, assuming we keep doing what we’re doing, which is to say, nothing, NCAR predicts (and yes, they use the word “predictions” not “projections”):

The modeling results indicate that if nations continue to increase their emissions of greenhouse gases in a “business as usual” scenario, the U.S. ratio of daily record high to record low temperatures would increase to about 20-to-1 by mid-century and 50-to-1 by 2100.

In short, if you like it hot, you ain’t seen nothing yet (see Our hellish future: Definitive NOAA-led report on U.S. climate impacts warns of scorching 9 to 11°F warming over most of inland U.S. by 2090 with Kansas above 90°F some 120 days a year — and that isn’t the worst case, it’s business as usual!”)

Globally, I’d expect May to be among the two hottest on record in the NASA and satellite datasets, but we won’t know that for sure for a few more days.

indiaUPDATE: Eli Rabett in the comments directs me to Paul Kedrosky who has a temperature map to go with this Guardian story:

Record temperatures in northern India have claimed hundreds of lives in what is believed to be the hottest summer [spring??] in the country since records began in the late 1800s.

The death toll is expected to rise with experts forecasting temperatures approaching 50C (122F) in coming weeks. More than 100 people are reported to have died in the state of Gujarat where the mercury topped at 48.5C last week. At least 90 died in Maharashtra, 35 in Rajasthan and 34 in Bihar.

Hospitals in Gujarat have been receiving around 300 people a day suffering from food poisoning and heat stroke, ministers said. Officials admit the figures are only a fraction of the total as most of the casualties are found in remote rural villages….

The capital has sweltered under intense heat for weeks though, having endured temperatures of around 45C last week, dust storms and scattered rain brought some relief over the weekend….

Mean temperatures for both March and April were the highest in more than 100 years.

After a blow-out U.S. April, a record-busting May


~ by Cory Morningstar on June 2, 2010.

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