Thoughts on the ocean, the environment, the universe and everything from nearly a mile high.

Panorama of The Grand Tetons From the top of Table Mountain, Wyoming © Alan Holyoak, 2011

Monday, January 7, 2013

2012 - Hot, Hot, Hot! The warmest year on record for Rexburg, Idaho

Every month or so I get a weather summary/update from our local weather guru, Lee Warnick.  He enjoys tracking the weather...I enjoy tracking climate.

Anyway, his latest weather news release to the "Rexburg Weather Group" was quite the eye-opener.  I mean it shouldn't have been much of a surprise given the un-Idahoanly mild winter we had in 2011-2012, but the effects of global climate change are being felt everywhere, even here in SE Idaho.

Here are some highlights from his weather summary of 2012:

Average annual high temperature data for Rexburg, Idaho (n=41 years of temperature data)
  1. Average annual high temp = 56.25oF
  2. 2012 average high temp = 59.36oF
  3. Departure from average = +3.11oF
  4. This is the highest annual average temperature on record for Rexburg, Idaho
Average annual low temperature data for Rexburg, Idaho (n=41 years of temperature data)
  1. Average annual low temperature = 30.59oF
  2. 2012 annual low temperature = 34.12oF
  3. Departure from average = +3.53oF
  4. This was this highest annual low temperature average for Rexburg, Idaho ever
>90oF days 
  1. Average number of 90oF days = 15.6
  2. 2012 number of 90oF days = 32
  3. 2012 had more than twice the historical average of 90+oF days!
<0oF days
  1. Average number of days with below 0oF temperature = 17.5
  2. 2012 number of days below 0oF = 1...that's right only ONE!  Unbelievable!
Windy days in Rexburg, Idaho...a place already known for its wind
  1. Annual average number of windy days = 65.6 
  2. 2012 number of windy days = 104 
  3. Yep, that's 1.6 times more windy days than the historical average.
  4. The previous record number of windy days/year was 95 in 2011 (also a record at the time)
Daily temperature records
  1. High daily temperature records - there were 45 new daily temperature records set in 2012
  2. Low daily temperature records - there were 6 new daily low temperatures set in 2012.
  3. If we were in a normal temperature year we would predict roughly equal numbers of high and low temperature records to be set, but in 2012 high temperature records to low temperature records were set at a rate of 7.5:1.
What does all of this mean?

It means that 2012 was the warmest, windiest year on record for Rexburg, Idaho.

Is this an evidence of global warming?

It is statistically difficult to tie an individual weather event, such as one warm year or one windy year, to global warming.  But, what we can say with confidence is that the current trend of global climate change makes years like these more likely to occur than in the past, and that the observed elevated temperatures and increased number of windy days are also consistent with climate models of ongoing global warming.

We can also be confident in saying, like it or not, that there will be cooler years than 2012 and warmer years than 2012 in the future, but that we are almost certainly going to see more warmer years than cooler years as long as the current trend of global warming continues.

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