The headline on E&E News, WOWT-TV, Scientific American, WorldNewsNetwork and other media outlets this week, “An unprecedented heatwave in the Pacific Northwest due to climate change” couldn’t be more unscientific. Without any analysis, without any historical context and nothing but guesswork, author Anne. C. Mulkern foregoing science in their coverage of the brief Pacific Northwest (PNW) heat wave this week to advocate.
Yes, the heat wave set all-time high temperature records in Washington, Oregon, and Canada. But consider: We have at best about 150 years of reliable weather records for the PNW, so such a “black swan” runaway event is not surprising. It has certainly happened before. We just weren’t there to watch it. After all, Native Americans did not keep written weather records.
High (and low) temperature records are nothing new. But it’s important to look back, because data shows us that more high-temperature records were set in the first half of the 20th century than in the last 50 years. This is even confirmed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
But many climate activists immediately pointed to “climate change” as the cause, even though this week would have been a record weather event with or without recent moderate warming. It is said that “climate change,” also known as global warming, has increased by about 2 degrees Fahrenheit over the past century, but last week’s temperature far exceeded that.
Temperatures were so high that the small 2 ° F warming of climate change was dwarfed. In cities, the “urban heat island effect” was also a major cause. Portland and Seattle hit all-time highs of 116 and 108 on Monday, while Lytton, Canada rose to a national record of 118.
“… the heat island effect leads to daytime temperatures in urban areas that are around 1–7 ° C higher than temperatures in remote areas.”
The previous all-time record high for Portland was 107. Seattle’s all-time high was 103. Medford, Oregon, hit its all-time record of 115 degrees on Monday. It didn’t get any hotter there than ever because Medford was south of the center of the high pressure dome.
Some of the high temperature records reported are not even accurate, for example:
Well that was quick! Initial research showed that the 120 ° F temperature at Renton was actually a mistake in the data display. The actual temperature at this point was 108 ° F. We will investigate the other two observations. #wawx https://t.co/Il8eY2SWXY
– NWS Seattle (@NWSSeattle) June 29, 2021
Hmmm, one wonders how a “data display error” turns 108F into 120F. As far as I know, the media did not report this bug.
It is often said that “weather is not climate” and it is true. This is especially true in this case.
The heat wave was solely a weather pattern problem, not a climate problem. A large high pressure dome (sometimes called a heat dome) over the PNW is not unknown, but this one was particularly strong. In fact, it was the result of a perfect storm of clashing weather patterns.
The output of the weather model illustrates the unusually strong heat dome over the Pacific Northwest on Sunday. (Source: PivotalWeather).
Similar unique weather patterns occur each year leading to large blizzards, torrential floods, and tornado outbreaks. It’s business as usual for the earth.
High pressure rotates clockwise, causing air to sink and creating downdrafts (blow dryers) that heat up as the air is compressed as it rushes down the slopes of the Cascade Mountains from east to west towards Portland and Seattle. It’s like the Santa Ana Winds in Southern California. It’s the same effect as filling a tire with a bicycle pump. The pump does not heat up through friction, but rather because the gas (air) is compressed. Conversely, aerosol cans get colder because pressurized gas escapes and decompression takes place inside the can. Science describes this as an adiabatic process.
Interestingly, another record was not trumpeted by the news media. As the high pressure of the heat dome moved east, Seattle and Portland had record cooling rates. The Portland Office of the National Weather Service reported another new all-time record.
“Enormous cooling on Monday evening in the interior of the country, with temperatures of over 100 degrees on the 60s / 70s. Portland set a new record with a drop of 52 degrees, breaking the old record of 48 degrees set in September 1988. It’s cooler today, with highs of 85 to 93 inland and 60s on the coast. “
This all-time record-breaking cool-down event didn’t get a lot of press because it goes against the groupthink that “climate change” is only causing bad things. Also, the news media is often more fixated on disaster than good news.
If both record heat and record cooling occur within 24 hours, that is undeniably weather, not climate.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) defines it well:
“Weather reflects short-term conditions of the atmosphere, while climate is the average daytime weather over a longer period of time in a particular location. … The weather can change from minute to minute, from hour to hour, from day to day and from season to season. “
Finally, in an extremely ironic twist, Scientific American, the same outlet that claimed the heatwave was driven by “climate change,” confirms what NOAA and I just told you, which is, don’t be fooled, weather is not climate .
You can’t have both.