Friday, August 04, 2006

Record heat? Hardly.

I suppose those Tin Lizzie SUVs were responsible for this?
People sweltering from a heat wave in the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. might find cold comfort in the fact that the temperatures of the past few days are not the hottest on record. That "honor" belongs to a summer 76 years ago -- decades before the controversy over "man-made global warming" began.

"From June 1 to August 31, 1930, 21 days had high temperatures that were 100 degrees or above" in the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area, Patrick Michaels, senior fellow for environmental studies at the libertarian Cato Institute, told Cybercast News Service. "That summer has never been approached, and it's not going to be approached this year."

Between July 19 and Aug. 9 of that year, heat records were set on nine days and they remain unbroken more than three-quarters of a century later. "That's hot," added Michaels, who also serves as professor of natural resources at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Va.

The summer of 1930 also marked the beginning of the longest drought of the 20th century. In 1934, dry regions stretched from New York and Pennsylvania across the Great Plains to California. A "dust bowl" covered about 50 million acres in the south-central plains during the winter of 1935-1936.
But Michaels noted that high temperatures are common in the middle of the summer. (It takes an environmental expert to tell us that? - Ed.)
Along with an unusual upper-air pattern, the Washington, D.C., area "was exceedingly dry" during the summer of 1930, Michaels stated.

"Generally speaking, when the ground is moist here, temperatures cap out in the high 90s," he noted. "That's because the sun's energy is divided into evaporating water and directly heating the surface. If the surface is dry, then everything goes into heating the surface, and you get exceedingly hot temperatures like you saw in 1930.

"Big cities are getting warmer -- with or without global warming -- because the bricks and the buildings and the pavement retain heat," Michaels added. For that reason, he prefers to compare temperatures in nearby rural areas. "There's been very little change" in those areas, "so we trust the record to be a reliable indicator of base climate."
"We trust the record to be a reliable indicator"? Why, that's just crazy talk!

I recall the summer of 1982 in Memphis, when we were gripped by a brutal heat wave and hadn't had a drop of rain in weeks. If my memory serves me correctly, the enviroweenie Chicken Littles were still in the "impending Ice Age" mentality, and I remember thinking "I wouldn't mind a little of that Ice Age right about now." My, how environmental calamaties times change!