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Historic Pacific Northwest Heatwave of 2021


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Was looking at the CDC excess mortality data and you can clearly see 1 week spikes in deaths in Oregon and Washington the week of July 3. Compared to the baseline of adjacent weeks, the heatwave appears to be responsible for ~150 deaths in Oregon and ~300-400 deaths in Washington.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/08/11/climate/deaths-pacific-northwest-heat-wave.html

This NY times chart shows this clearly.

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20 hours ago, Typhoon Tip said:

I’ve been arguing since 1995 that heat and cold waves (temp extremes) deserve/need emphasis/inclusion in the fab five -

Flood.  Lightning.  Tornadoes.  Hurricane.  Blizzard.  ?Heat/cold?

Maybe better observations & reporting led to this increase?


And Lightning is very terrifying!

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 6/30/2021 at 6:37 PM, bluewave said:

 

The Dust Bowl was an early example of humans altering the Great Plains climate through land degradation. We had a big hand in the magnitude of the record heat. Now we are cooling the region through our farming practices.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-16676-w

The severe drought of the 1930s Dust Bowl decade coincided with record-breaking summer heatwaves that contributed to the socio-economic and ecological disaster over North America’s Great Plains. It remains unresolved to what extent these exceptional heatwaves, hotter than in historically forced coupled climate model simulations, were forced by sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and exacerbated through human-induced deterioration of land cover. Here we show, using an atmospheric-only model, that anomalously warm North Atlantic SSTs enhance heatwave activity through an association with drier spring conditions resulting from weaker moisture transport. Model devegetation simulations, that represent the wide-spread exposure of bare soil in the 1930s, suggest human activity fueled stronger and more frequent heatwaves through greater evaporative drying in the warmer months. This study highlights the potential for the amplification of naturally occurring extreme events like droughts by vegetation feedbacks to create more extreme heatwaves in a warmer world.

 

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/02/america-s-corn-belt-making-its-own-weather

The Great Plains of the central United States—the Corn Belt—is one of the most fertile regions on Earth, producing more than 10 billion bushels of corn each year. It’s also home to some mysterious weather: Whereas the rest of the world has warmed, the region’s summer temperatures have dropped as much as a full degree Celsius, and rainfall has increased up to 35%, the largest spike anywhere in the world. The culprit, according to a new study, isn’t greenhouse gas emissions or sea surface temperature—it’s the corn itself.

This is the first time anyone has examined regional climate change in the central United States by directly comparing the influence of greenhouse gas emissions to agriculture, says Nathan Mueller, an earth systems scientist at the University of California (UC), Irvine, who was not involved with this study. It’s important to understand how agricultural activity can have “surprisingly strong” impacts on climate change, he says.

 

 

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11 hours ago, LibertyBell said:

Weird, how is 1980 not hotter than  any of these?  We had coast to coast heat that year.  And 1995 had similar.....

 

1980 and 1995 were much further down the list. But 1988 finished close to the 10 highest summer temperature. The top 10 is mostly filled with recent years.

202106 - 202108 74.01°F 127 2.61°F
193606 - 193608 74.00°F 126 2.60°F
201206 - 201208 73.70°F 125 2.30°F
201106 - 201108 73.65°F 124 2.25°F
202006 - 202008 73.55°F 123 2.15°F
193406 - 193408 73.53°F 122 2.13°F
200606 - 200608 73.52°F 121 2.12°F
201606 - 201608 73.50°F 120 2.10°F
201806 - 201808 73.50°F 120 2.10°F
200206 - 200208 73.19°F 118 1.79°F
198806 - 198808 73.11°F 117 1.71°F
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1 hour ago, bluewave said:

1980 and 1995 were much further down the list. But 1988 finished close to the 10 highest summer temperature. The top 10 is mostly filled with recent years.

202106 - 202108 74.01°F 127 2.61°F
193606 - 193608 74.00°F 126 2.60°F
201206 - 201208 73.70°F 125 2.30°F
201106 - 201108 73.65°F 124 2.25°F
202006 - 202008 73.55°F 123 2.15°F
193406 - 193408 73.53°F 122 2.13°F
200606 - 200608 73.52°F 121 2.12°F
201606 - 201608 73.50°F 120 2.10°F
201806 - 201808 73.50°F 120 2.10°F
200206 - 200208 73.19°F 118 1.79°F
198806 - 198808 73.11°F 117 1.71°F

It seems that our hottest years dont end up on the list because when we are hot the rest of the country isn't lol.

Except for 2002, that was amazingly hot here.

 

Surprised about 1980 not being on the list because from the charts I've seen that was a three month heatwave from St Louis to the east coast.  I like to exclude the west coast from conversations about our weather patterns because their climate is so unlike ours they might as well be another country.

 

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  • 1 month later...

This new paper is about the tropics, but the physics are relevant to this summer heat wave in the NW. Dry areas are going to experience more amplification of extreme heat under climate change:

"According to the theory, warming is amplified for hot land days because those days are dry, which is termed the ‘drier get hotter’ mechanism."

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-021-00828-8

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  • 4 weeks later...
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Now looking like B.C. may have a second major weather disaster for the year, there has been widespread flooding and landslides in the past two days from the strong "atmospheric river" event still ongoing, will post more info when news reports are more informative, last night it was mostly "we are hearing ... but cannot get into" sorts of stories but basically it seems that multiple small tributaries of the Fraser River have overflowed in various residential areas of the Fraser valley (50 to 100 miles east of Vancouver is where the worst damage is likely to be located). Three major highways are closed by flood and mudslide damage, cutting off all access from the coast to the BC interior by the usual routes, road access through Whistler and Pemberton is still open at last reports. Or you could go through WA state as they are not getting that much rain south of about Bellingham. The border was just opened up the other day for Canadians who wish to drive into the U.S. on non-essential trips, but other than snowbirds heading south to their winter homes or campsites, very few are going yet as there are expensive testing protocols when (or if) we return. And watching the golf from Phoenix yesterday then looking out at the mess of slush on our street, I was thinking, why the heck would I return? 

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On 8/16/2021 at 7:08 PM, Iceresistance said:

Maybe better observations & reporting led to this increase?


And Lightning is very terrifying!

Not a bad take, but it's not a matter of "weather" dangerous hot and cold extremes get reported. It is necessarily ( or should be ) whether these are deemed a threat, nothing else. I have ideas why they have not been added to the headline list, generations ago. 

Firstly, it doesn't appear to me, as I've read historical accounts and come by way of annuls ..et al, there really was much limitation on awareness going all the way back through history - there are in fact vivid accounts of both hot and cold impacts upon civility, from monetary to life, dating back many generations. 

To your thinking: 'Available observation and report' - yes ... tech evolution has engulfed us in a vastly advantaged awareness compared to say 100 years ago. And, it is true, awareness does feed-back on policy. Of course.  But, the deadly heat waves and cold waves of yore, are in the yore - that means there was awareness, regardless -

My longer "hot take" : The problem was originally due to the human condition of threats tending to belay, if not failing to elicit responses, unless they more dramatically appeal to the corporeal senses.  Otherwise, they are deemed less urgent, thus ...not prioritized as such. 

It's really a biological distinction. We can't tell a horse to run away from a wild fire. But, if they see the orange plasma dancing along the distant line they perhaps instinctively turn and high-tale it.  We hope humans are smarter than horses ... despite so many frustrating evidences ..  But unfortunately, there is proportional response triggering mechanism that exists in us in simulacrum.

Not to get into a protracted digression on the matter ...but it is one of the major proponents in this whole Climate Change denial - which, a goodly part of that moral failure is not because we are bad people.  Some? sure... You have sociopaths and deviants and crack pots in any population.  But really, the above human condition strands the majority in stasis of looking around, and that gets in the way of proactive "heedance."

It is and was always normal to question, and the evolved circumstance of nature's built in biological observation --> trigger circuitry being reliant on seeing the "orange plasma," that lends to a convenience to disagree.  40% of the world's 7 1/2 billion brains need that biological trigger of seeing - seeing is believing.  Now, the seeing is changing ... as desiccated regions, wild fires, rising ocean, and synergistic heat waves are becoming pronounced enough, begins to appeal. But, I sometimes wonder if the 'edginess' of human intelligence is not evently distributed, where some are either natively or circumstantially advantageous.  They may be better equipped to perceive threats based upon higher order intelligentsia, and not having to wait upon hearing the report of the rifle fire - which if you follow this metaphor, usually by the time one hears that report, the bullet had already arrived - ooh.

We are taught since very little that observation is needed to corroborate interpretation of reality - thus, we know it is truly real.   So that "40%" above ... can you see or sense that paradox?  In the case of our horse above, they are in fact not doing anything until the "see" that reality - it's the same mechanics.  What we do to sophisticate that kind of processing as humans, is more polish done in the higher order intelligence framework that horses simply do not posses - but it is rooted in the same. 

You know it's interesting to me ... I have expounded upon the following to Liberty' and Rclab et al, about this catch-22 aspect of humans extraordinary evolutionary leap. One that I believe is still occurring actually, for better or worse aside - verdict definitely still out on that one. But.. the gist of it is, humanity evolved the capacity for ingenuity, which really spans the spectrum of innovation to analytic problem solving. That incredible advent in Earth biologic history was not proportionally evolving any necessary means to connect with it.  That creates a kind of gap problem there, one that may fill with tragedy ...as we arbor our way to our own extinction for ( perhaps ...) suffering an imbalance between vision, and willingness/instinct/ability to abide those warnings.

But anyway, until recently, one could not see or feel Globe warming, not when the "alarm" was the sound of mere decimal-integrated increases from one year to the next. 

Back on the original subject ..heh!   Prior generations would naturally perceive a stove piped tornadic specter twisting through a neighborhood like an errant egg-beater as requiring a certain import, before considering 102/74 as dangerous.  But set that in statically for 5 days, might take the same toll on health and wellness but its just not triggering..

Slower moving, invisible killer.   Have you ever heard of the medical mantra about 'Hypertension is the silent killer' ?   It's like that...  The Earth in Climate crisis is like an Earth with Hypertension - and the metaphor couldn't be more apropos when considering the both Hypertension and the Climate crisis, are dealing with elevated numbers. 

Anyway, the headline list is really an old school short-sighted aspect that got institutionalized is all, and it's stupid to be blunt.

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So to follow up on this second weather disaster, things are actually quite serious in terms of property damage, so far a rather slight casualty toll. 

As some readers won't be very familiar with BC geography, I will describe what I'm hearing in terms of driving east out of Vancouver which got a lot of rain and some localized but not too severe flooding. As you get further into the Fraser valley it gets worse. The cities of Abbotsford and Chilliwack have scattered neighborhood evacuations due to stream overflows combined with mudslides. The main highway to the interior of BC east of Chilliwack BC is closed at Bridal Falls and if you live in Hope BC you can only go a few miles in any direction as all highways from there are blocked by floods and or mudslides somewhere in the Cascades.

Along the north shore of the Fraser, another highway is also blocked in two places. About 30 vehicles were trapped between those two slides last night and the people were rescued by helicopter today. Nobody is known to have been swept away in either slide but from the news footage that looks like a week to two week clean up. Then going further into the mountains from Hope, the main route to Kamloops and Calgary is washed out by severe flooding, and the city of Merritt in the plateau area further northeast is fully evacuated with 3-5 feet of water in most of the town and no drinking water or sewage treatment. That's a community of about 8,000 people. Then on the southern route that goes east from Hope, that highway also washed out in places, and the town of Princeton has seen considerable flooding also from rivers running east from the Cascades. 

Reports of 8 to 12 inches of rain in total. The rain has moved on and a squall line is approaching my location (which is 250 miles east of Princeton). We have had a very mild day with southerly winds but from the radar it looks like a squall line approaching. Southern Alberta had the chinook today as well as Montana, temps into the low 60s and wind gusts to 70 mph. 

Looks like even stronger winds could develop as this low is quite intense now, heading inland across the Rockies. 

So a very expensive storm but lacking any significant death toll to match the summer heat wave casualties which are estimated to be in the 500-800 range in BC. 

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Further to the above, the mudslides that hit BC Highway 99 east of Pemberton have probably caused several casualties, eyewitnesses state that a second mudslide hit a group of people who were stopped by a previous slide, and swept away, fate unknown at this point as search and rescue have to go through the first slide to get to the second one (from either end of the route as there are multiple slides). 

Since I posted earlier, the storm has moved on with one last blast of strong winds doing considerable damage around Kelowna, BC. My location had some strong gusts around 0100h today but no local damage other than tarps not well enough secured being blown across a residential street. 

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