- Climate science research increasingly suggests a link between climate change and weather extremes, as Dr. Foster points out below (highlighted)
- If you are interested in personally exploring the impacts of climate change in Northern Europe, take a look at the Toppers at Sea Climate Challenge in May/June 2014
- This is a great opportunity to better understand and respond to what many consider the defining issue of our time
The summer of 2013 is continuing a recent pattern of weather extremes, according to State Climatologist Stuart Foster.
Last summer, a dry and hot June and early July brought extreme drought conditions to parts of western Kentucky. The drought came one year after heavy rainfall caused widespread flooding across the region in April and May 2011.
Since 1895, 2011 ranks as the wettest year in Kentucky with an average of 63.12 inches of precipitation across the state, which is 14.22 inches above normal, based on data from the Midwestern Regional Climate Center. The 2012 total of 42.98 inches ranked as 91st in the past 118 years.
The statewide precipitation average for 2013 based on the Kentucky Mesonet is running about 10 inches above 2012’s average year-to-date, with June and July’s rainfall above last year’s average, he said. The statewide average in June 2013 was 6.04 inches compared to 1.13 in 2012, while the July 2013 average (through July 23) was 5.84 compared to 5.26 in 2012.
Nonetheless, Dr. Foster noted, some portions of the Jackson Purchase region of far western Kentucky, which suffered from some of the worst drought conditions last year, have seen less abundant rainfall so far this summer.
As for temperatures, 2013 “has been quite a bit cooler than last year,” Dr. Foster said.
The statewide average temperature for July of 74.7 degrees (through July 23) is 4.5 degrees cooler than last July’s 79.2. The March 2013 average temperature of 39.7 degrees was 18.2 degrees cooler than March 2012’s 57.9.
“Research suggests that the pattern we are seeing may be consistent with the melting of the polar ice, warming of Arctic region and weakening of the jet stream, so that while our weather patterns certainly vary from year to year, this could be a pattern we see more frequently,” Dr. Foster said.
“If you look over the last several years we have seen wide ranging conditions from very wet to very dry,” he said. “I never thought that I would see water flowing through the spillway at Rough River Lake or any other of Kentucky’s reservoirs, but I saw it in 2011.
“While these may not be records, they challenge us as a society to adapt to those extremes both to minimize risk to life and property and to enhance our economic competitiveness in the global marketplace.”
Recent extremes have included heavy daily rainfall of more than 4 inches in several areas including 5.92 inches in Hopkins County on June 24, 5.40 inches in Logan County on July 5, 4.39 inches in Trigg County on June 1 and 4.09 inches in Marshall County on June 1.
Monthly rainfall extremes have included 12.99 inches in Logan County in July (through July 23), 11.49 inches in Hopkins County in June and 10.7 inches in Marshall County in June.
Temperature extremes from the Kentucky Mesonet this year for May, June and July also have been lower. The highest temperatures are: May 2013’s 89.9 degrees in Lawrence County compared to May 2012’s 95.7 degrees in Hopkins County; June 2013’s 97.2 in Fulton County compared to June 2012’s 107.2 degrees in Calloway County; and July 2013’s 93.2 degrees in Mason County compared to July 2012’s 106.4 in Hopkins County.
Dr. Foster said the cooler and wetter pattern could continue into August according to NOAA’s 30-day outlook.
(Source: WKU News, July 24, 2013, emphasis added)