Record-Melting Fall Heat Wave Bakes Southern California
By Bob Henson
It's not every Oct. 23 or 24 that millions of Americans are swathed in temperatures above 100°F. This week has done just that, bringing some of the toastiest weather ever observed in the U.S. during late October, and more pre-Halloween heat is on the way.
By far the most scorching weather has been in Southern California, although it's also been exceptionally mild this month in settings as far-flung as Michigan, Florida and New England.
A multi-day summer-like heat wave kicked into high gear on Monday and continued Tuesday along and well inland from the California coast, from Santa Barbara through Los Angeles to San Diego. Dozens of locations recorded highs for the date and all-time highs for this late in the year, and Santa Ana winds kept the temperatures amazingly warm throughout Monday night. In Orange County, the city of Fullerton soared to 107°F on Monday. According to WU weather historian Christopher Burt, this is likely the hottest single temperature recorded anywhere in the U.S. so late in the year. Even Death Valley has never recorded a temperature this high after Oct. 16 in any year! For comparison, the national U.S. record high for November is 105°F, most recently at Tustin Irvine Ranch, California, in 1997.
Another impressive mark: downtown Los Angeles (the University of Southern California campus) hit 102°F. Prior to Monday, the downtown station had never topped 100°F after Oct. 17, in records going all the way back to 1877. Incredibly, the USC downtown station got even hotter on Tuesday, reaching 103°F at 1 pm.
Here are some of the many records set on Monday, with the old daily record and year and the year that observations began. Asterisks denote that the high was an all-time record for so late in the year.
The heat wave and Santa Ana winds are being caused by a large, near-record-strength dome of high pressure that's settled in over the Great Basin, a few hundred miles northeast of Los Angeles. The difference in pressure between this high-pressure system and lower pressure over Southern California has driven gusty northeast winds over Southern California. Since these originated over desert areas, they are hot and dry. As the air descends from the mountains to the coast, the air gets even hotter and drier due to adiabatic compression—the process whereby the pressure on a parcel of air increases as it descends, decreasing its volume, and thus increasing its temperature as work is done on it. These downslope winds are why the most impressive records on Monday occurred along and just inland from the coastline.
In locations where the winds kept up on Monday night, there was little relief from the heat. Overnight lows were as high as 90°F (Fillmore, in Ventura County) and 86°F (Van Nuys). Some locations stayed near 90°F all night except for just an hour or two when the winds slackened and the temperatures dropped to around 80°F. Even a weather station at 5655 feet, near the summit of Mt. Wilson, failed to dip below 65°F.
A helicopter drops water on a wildfire in California near the Mexico border.Andrea Booher / FEMA
Fire weather remains critical through Wednesday
The heat and wind will continue through Wednesday across the coastal ranges of Southern California, keeping fire danger at critical levels on both Tuesday and Wednesday as designated by the NOAA/NWS Storm Prediction Center. The very warm night Monday night gave temperatures a running start toward highs on Tuesday that could match or even exceed Monday's at some locations (as was the case in Los Angeles, as noted above). Adding to the fire risk, winds were already gusting above 60 mph at some locations by midday Tuesday, and relative humidity on Tuesday night may remain as low as 10 to 15 percent, dropping below 10 percent as the air heats up by day. Winds should begin to relax across the area by Wednesday afternoon.
Hot temperatures pushed further up the California coast on Tuesday. Big Sur topped 100°F before noon, as did several other coastal locations. In San Diego, public schools closed early on both Monday and Tuesday because of the heat; by 2019, all of the district's school buildings are slated to have air conditioning.
Hottest World Series game on record
The temperature at first pitch for the 2017 World Series Tuesday at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles was 103°F, the hottest beginning to any game in the century-plus history of the World Series, beating out the first-pitch reading of 94°F on Oct. 27, 2001 in Phoenix. In a weather.com overview last week, Jon Erdman noted, "While the Arizona Diamondbacks hosted the 2001 World Series in a retractable-roof stadium (then called Bank One Ballpark, now Chase Field), and would normally have closed the roof to shield fans from the desert heat, Major League Baseball wanted the roof open."
Apart from the long-term warming of U.S. climate that's resulting from human-produced greenhouse gases, there's at least one other reason why we might expect World Series games to be warmer now than decades ago. Until the 1950s, all Major League Baseball teams were located in the Northeast, Midwest, and mid-Atlantic, prior to the major U.S. population shift toward the warmer Sunbelt. On the other hand, World Series games are being played later in October than they were during most of the 20th century, and all World Series games were played during the daytime until the 1970s. Both of these latter factors would tend to yield cooler rather than warmer first-pitch temperatures today as opposed to decades ago.
Departures from average temperature (in degrees F) for the period Oct. 1-22, 2017.NOAA/NWS Climate Prediction Center
Parts of the Northeast are on track for warmest October on record
The first three weeks of October were remarkably mild for most of the U.S. east of the Rockies. Overnight lows across most of the Northeast on Monday night were in the 50-70°F range—warmer than the average highs for this time of year! Albany, NY, "dipped" to 68°F early Tuesday, compared to its average high and low for the date of 57°F and 37°F. If the temperature stays above 64°F through midnight, it'll be Albany's highest daily minimum ever recorded this late in the year, in data going back to 1874.
The Northeast's unusually dry and unseasonably warm weather in both September and October has played havoc with the region's world-famous fall foliage. In some areas, still-green leaves are sharing the same landscape with brilliant colors and leafless twigs. "This foliage season is very odd, to say the least," reported the Foliage Network on Oct. 16. "For most locations, there won't be a true peak in the color ... there is great color to be seen, but complete landscapes of fall color will not be found this season."
A mishmash of color greeted leaf-peepers at Guilford, VT (near the VT/MA border) on Oct. 18. In this area, foliage is typically peaking by mid-October.Bob Henson
These gulls appear to be enjoying the fall sunshine and warmer runway next to @NWSCaribou #mewx https://t.co/bygNPItyaH— NWS Caribou (@NWS Caribou)1508615961.0
A cool front pushing across the Northeast on Tuesday, followed by a stronger front early next week, should bring the region closer to seasonal norms, but the cooldowns may not be enough to avoid some all-time monthly warmth. Below are several locations that could end up notching their warmest October on record, based on observations through Monday, Oct. 23, combined with WU forecasts through Oct. 31.
Keeping an eye on 93L
A disturbance dubbed Invest 93L continues to spawn widespread but disorganized showers and thunderstorms across the Western Caribbean, a notorious breeding ground for late-season hurricanes. In its tropical weather outlook issued at 8 pm EDT Tuesday, the NOAA/NWS National Hurricane Center gave 92L a 10 percent chance of developing into at least a tropical depression by Thursday and a 50 percent chance by Sunday. See our Tuesday morning post for more details on 93L.
Dr. Jeff Masters contributed to this post.
Many people shop online for everything from clothes to appliances. If they do not like the product, they simply return it. But there's an environmental cost to returns.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Dolf Gielen and Morgan Bazilian
John Kerry helped bring the world into the Paris climate agreement and expanded America's reputation as a climate leader. That reputation is now in tatters, and President-elect Joe Biden is asking Kerry to rebuild it again – this time as U.S. climate envoy.
Energy Is at the Center of the Climate Challenge<p>The <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/1/" target="_blank">effects of climate change</a> are already evident across the globe, from <a href="https://theconversation.com/100-degrees-in-siberia-5-ways-the-extreme-arctic-heat-wave-follows-a-disturbing-pattern-141442" target="_blank">extreme heat waves</a> to <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/12/" target="_blank">sea level rise</a>. But while the challenge is daunting, there is hope. Solar and wind power have become the <a href="https://www.irena.org/publications/2020/Jun/Renewable-Power-Costs-in-2019" target="_blank">cheapest forms of power generation globally</a>, and technology progress and innovation continue apace to support a transition to clean energy.</p><p>In the U.S. under a Biden administration, long-term national climate legislation will depend on who controls the Senate, and that won't be clear until after two run-off elections in Georgia in January.</p><p>But there is no shortage of <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2020-biden-climate-change-advice/" target="_blank">ideas for ways Biden</a> could still take action even if his proposals are blocked in Congress. For example, he could use executive orders and direct government agencies to tighten regulations on greenhouse gas emissions; increase research and development in clean energy technologies; and empower states to exceed national standards, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-autos-emissions-california/defying-trump-california-locks-in-vehicle-emission-deals-with-major-automakers-idUSKCN25D2CH" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">as California did in the past with auto emission standards</a>. A focus on a just and equitable transition for communities and people affected by the decline of fossil fuels will also be key to creating a sustainable transition.</p><p>The U.S. position as the world's largest oil and gas producer and consumer creates political challenges for any administration. U.S. forays into European energy security are often treated with suspicion. Recently, France blocked <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/frances-engie-backs-out-of-u-s-lng-deal-11604435609" target="_blank">a multi-billion dollar contract</a> to buy U.S. liquefied natural gas because of concerns about limited emissions regulations in Texas.</p><p>Strengthening cooperation and partnerships with like-minded countries will be critical to bring about a transition to cleaner energy as well as sustainability in agriculture, forestry, water and other sectors of the global economy.</p>
Creating a Global Sustainable Transition<p>How the world recovers from COVID-19's economic damage could help drive a lasting shift in the global energy mix.</p><p>Nearly one-third of Europe's US$2 trillion economic relief package <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-07-21/eu-approves-biggest-green-stimulus-in-history-with-572-billion-plan" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">involves investments that are also good for the climate</a>. The European Union is also strengthening its 2030 climate targets, though each country's energy and climate plans will be critical for successfully implementing them. The <a href="https://joebiden.com/clean-energy/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Biden plan</a> – including a $2 trillion commitment to developing sustainable energy and infrastructure – is aligned with a global energy transition, but its implementation is also uncertain.</p><p>Once Biden takes office, Kerry will be joining ongoing <a href="https://www.un.org/en/conferences/energy2021/about#:%7E:text=The%20overarching%20goal%20of%20the,2030%20Agenda%20for%20Sustainable%20Development.&text=Accelerate%20delivery%20of%20United%20Nations,related%20issues%20at%20all%20levels." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high-level discussions on the energy transition</a> at the U.N. General Assembly and other gatherings of international leaders. With the U.S. no longer obstructing work on climate issues, the G-7 and G-20 have more potential for progress on energy and climate.</p><p>Lots of technical details still need to be worked out, including international trade frameworks and standards that can help countries lower greenhouse gas emissions enough to keep global warming in check. <a href="https://www.carbonpricingleadership.org/what" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Carbon pricing</a> and <a href="https://www.csis.org/analysis/how-can-europe-get-carbon-border-adjustment-right" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">carbon border adjustment taxes</a>, which create incentive for companies to reduce emissions, may be part of it. A consistent and comprehensive set of national energy transition plans will also be needed.</p><p>The global shift to <a href="https://www.irena.org/publications/2019/Jan/A-New-World-The-Geopolitics-of-the-Energy-Transformation" target="_blank">clean energy will also have geopolitical implications for countries and regions</a>, and this will have a profound impact on wider international relations. Kerry, with his experience as secretary of state in the Obama administration, and Biden's plan to make the climate envoy position part of the National Security Council, may help mend these relations. In doing so, the U.S. may again join the wider community of countries willing to lead.</p>
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By Maria Caffrey
As we approach the holidays I, like most people, have been reflecting on everything 2020 has given us (or taken away) while starting to look ahead to 2021.
We Need More Than Listening<p>By now we have all become sadly accustomed to the current administration sidelining scientists, most prominently Dr. Anthony Fauci, because the facts they provide do not fit with the political rhetoric of the moment.</p><p>I have <a href="https://www.csldf.org/2019/08/22/csldf-helps-climate-scientist-maria-caffrey-fight-for-scientific-integrity/" target="_blank">my own history</a> of filing a scientific integrity complaint with the National Park Service (which falls under the Department of the Interior) after senior ranking employees attempted to censor one of my scientific reports. I know all too well the damage and pain that these actions cause, not just for the individual scientist, but also because these <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/attacks-on-science" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">attacks on science</a> over the last few years have undermined sound, evidence-based decision making.</p><p>President-elect Biden has repeatedly said that he will <a href="https://thehill.com/homenews/521638-trump-biden-will-listen-to-the-scientists-if-elected" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">listen to the scientists</a>. While this is certainly a welcome change, listening can only take us so far. This past week Lauren Kurtz from the <a href="https://www.csldf.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Climate Science Legal Defense Fund</a> and my colleague <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/about/people/gretchen-goldman" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Gretchen Goldman</a> published <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ten-steps-that-can-restore-scientific-integrity-in-government/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an article</a> listing 10 actions the new administration should implement to show their commitment to strengthening government science:</p><ol><li>Clearly prohibit political interference and censorship.</li><li>Protect scientists' communication rights.</li><li>Acknowledge that attempts to violate scientific integrity, even if ultimately not fruitful, are still violations.</li><li>Protect federal scientists' right to provide information to Congress and other lawmakers.</li><li>Commit to incorporating the best science as part of agency decisions.</li><li>Elevate agency scientific integrity policies to have the full force of law.</li><li>Publicly release anonymized information about scientific integrity complaints and their resolutions at every agency.</li><li>Institute an intra-agency workforce, potentially under the White House <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/2020-09/strengthening-science-and-si-at-ostp.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Office of Science and Technology Policy</a>, to coordinate scientific integrity efforts across agencies, foster discussion of policy improvements, and standardize criteria for policies across agencies.</li><li>Strengthen whistleblower protections.</li><li>Ensure that policies cover all actors who will be dealing with science.</li></ol>
Time for Action<p>I have spoken to many scientists, particularly federal scientists, who are eager to turn the page so they can hurry back to the work they had been doing before this administration, but I urge caution in assuming that things can be "normal" again.</p><p>Before Trump, I naively thought the scientific integrity policies established during the <a href="https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2016/12/19/scientific-integrity-policies-update" target="_blank">Obama administration</a> would be sufficient. I never imagined that any administration could so willfully ignore and attack expert advice and evidence that is intended to protect us and our public lands.</p><p>I have personally witnessed how hard our federal scientists work. They put in long hours with minimal pay (far less that what they could get if they worked in private industry) to pursue one simple goal: to make things better for the nation.</p><p>We need stronger scientific integrity policies to protect these people and their work. But more than that, we need stronger scientific integrity laws because they also benefit society.</p>
By Andrea Germanos
Environmental campaigners stressed the need for the incoming Biden White House to put in place permanent protections for Alaska's Bristol Bay after the Trump administration on Wednesday denied a permit for the proposed Pebble Mine that threatened "lasting harm to this phenomenally productive ecosystem" and death to the area's Indigenous culture.
<div id="da98c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="478a197b7c59c92787c92bec92f1ac39"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1331662923710693376" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Bristol Bay forever, Pebble mine never. #NoPebbleMine #SaveBristolBay https://t.co/CBQ9zuy8A5</div> — Save Bristol Bay (@Save Bristol Bay)<a href="https://twitter.com/SaveBristolBay/statuses/1331662923710693376">1606328156.0</a></blockquote></div>
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By Gwen Ranniger
In the midst of a pandemic, sales of cleaning products have skyrocketed, and many feel a need to clean more often. Knowing what to look for when purchasing cleaning supplies can help prevent unwanted and dangerous toxics from entering your home.