Overnight low of 41 C – yikes!

With the weather being fairly quiet across much of agricultural Manitoba over the last two or three weeks, I thought this would be a good time to take a look around and see what has been happening weatherwise around the world.

First stop is right in our own backyard. While the weather has been fairly quiet, it has also been fairly warm. So far in July, most of southern Manitoba has seen a mean average temperature of around 22 C.

If we continue with these temperatures right through to the end of the month, then we could beat our current record for warmest mean monthly temperature, at least in what is considered the modern records. The warmest mean monthly July temperature record was 22.2 C which was recorded in both 1988 and 1953. If we go back a little further using data from before 1938 (when the recording station switched from St. John’s College to the current site at the airport) then the record for the warmest mean monthly July temperature was 24.2 C recorded in 1936. Nonetheless, July 2012 is turning out to be one warm month!

Luckily for us we have so far missed out on the really intense heat that has been plaguing much of the central U.S. The heat wave that started in June has literally broken thousands of daily records and has resulted in the warmest 12-month period in U.S history. I’ll crunch our numbers next week, but as you may remember, we have also been breaking the same records here in southern Manitoba. Besides the intensity of the heat, the biggest difference between our warm weather and theirs is the lack of rainfall.

Most regions of southern and central Manitoba saw decent rains in June and early July, with only the south-central and eastern regions missing out. Over much of the U.S. they have been missing out on a lot of rain. Combine this with the intense heat and the U.S. is now in the second-greatest drought ever recorded.

As of July 19, 64 per cent of the contiguous United States is now reporting moderate or greater drought conditions and this is second only to the 80 per cent in the dust bowl of July 1934.

If you look at the area of the U.S. that is reporting severe or greater drought conditions, then 2012 ranks as the fifth-worst drought on record. Current long-range forecasts are not that optimistic, and they show warm, dry conditions continuing for much of the summer and fall. NOAA predicts that while there will be some improvement in the drought over the southwestern parts of the U.S., drought conditions are expected to continue over much of the northern U.S. (and probably parts of the southern Canadian Prairies).

Moving farther north, over at Greenland it seems that record heat is also the main story. At the Summit Station, which is known as the coldest place in Greenland, and often the Northern Hemisphere, they rarely see temperatures above the freezing mark, even in summer. According to a report by Jeff Masters, during the last 12 years they have only seen above-freezing temperatures on four days. So far during the first two weeks of July they have experienced five days above freezing! This record warmth has also resulted in record melting of the ice. This meltwater has created some major flooding. One example is the Watson River, which recorded a flow rate of 3.5 million litres per second, nearly twice the previous record.

Staying in the North, the amount of ice in the Arctic is also making some news. A fairly cold winter allowed ice coverage to increase and by the end of winter amounts were near the long-term average. Spring then saw a fairly average melt rate, which kept ice amounts only slightly below average. By June, warm weather across large portions of the Arctic brought on a very rapid melt of the thin one-year-old ice. By the end of June, the Arctic had lost 2.86 million square km of ice, which is the largest June loss since satellite records began. Ice loss in July has slowed a little from June’s rapid pace, but so far 2012 is on pace to come close to or break the record for least amount of ice coverage in the Arctic previously set in 2007.

Finally, if you have trouble when the overnight lows stay around the 20 C mark then you will love, or rather hate this. On the morning of July 12 in Death Valley, California, the lowest temperature recorded was an amazing 41.7 C! This ties the world record for warmest overnight low. This was preceded by a record high of 53.3 C on July 11. Things aren’t that bad here now are they?

About the author

Co-operator contributor

Daniel Bezte

Daniel Bezte is a teacher by profession with a BA (Hon.) in geography, specializing in climatology, from the U of W. He operates a computerized weather station near Birds Hill Park.

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