Summer 2016 – Hottest on record?

It’s been awhile since I made a new blog post, so I decided to post a quick update on the current summer. This has been a very hot and dry summer f0r Cleveland and, indeed, for all of northern Ohio and many of the adjacent Great Lakes states. Meteorological summer is typically defined as the period from June 1 through August 31 – this period is used because it roughly corresponds to the hottest three month period, and it’s more convenient for sharing climate info than relying on astronomical seasons which begin and end in the midst of months.

For the period June 1, 2016 through Friday, August 5, 2016, the mean temperature at Cleveland has been a remarkably warm 74.8F. To put this number in perspective, I have included a chart of the final summer readings for every year from 1855 through 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio (see Figure 1 below). If the season were to end today, this would be the third hottest meteorological summer behind 1995 (74.9F) and 1949 (75.0F). Obviously, there is still quite a bit of the month of August remaining; however, current indications are for the warm weather to persist for most of the next two weeks.

Summer Temps 1855-2016.png

Figure 1. Mean summertime temperatures in Cleveland, Ohio for the period 1855 through 2015.

The 10 Hottest Summers (June 1 through August 31)

  1. 1949 75.0F
  2. 1995 74.9
  3. 2010 74.4
  4. 1955 74.4
  5. 2005 74.3
  6. 2012 73.9
  7. 1952 73.9
  8. 1944 73.5
  9. 2011 73.3
  10. 2002, 1943, & 1934 73.2

The 10 Coldest Summers (June 1 through August 31)

  1. 1927 66.7F
  2. 1915 66.9
  3. 1903 67.1
  4. 1907 67.2
  5. 1875 67.4
  6. 1992 67.5
  7. 1985 67.6
  8. 1972 67.7
  9. 1960 67.7
  10. 1912 67.8

It has also been a very warm summer in neighboring southeast Michigan. For the period June 1 through August 6, Detroit has an average high temperature of 85.1F and an average low temperature of 63.7F, which yields a mean temperature of 74.4F. Over the same period, Flint, MI, has had an average high temperature of 86.3F and an average low temperature of 60.5F, which yields a mean temperature of 73.4F.

The 10 hottest summers on record at Detroit are as follows:

  1. 2012  74.8F
  2. 2005 74.8F
  3. 1995 74.5F
  4. 1955 74.5F
  5. 2011 74.4F
  6. 2010 74.4F
  7. 1988 74.2F
  8. 1933 74.0F
  9. 1949 73.8F
  10. 1921 73.7F

The 74.4F mean temperature through August 6th would tie for the 5th hottest summer on record with 2011 and 2010.

The 10 hottest summers on record at Flint, MI are as follows:

  1. 1933 74.2F
  2. 1934 74.0F
  3. 1936 72.7F
  4. 1939 72.6F
  5. 1931 72.6F
  6. 1921 72.6F
  7. 2010 72.3F
  8. 1949 72.3F
  9. 1955 72.2F
  10. 1935 72.0F

The 73.4F mean temperature through August 6th would be the third hottest on record, and the hottest since 1934.


Late May Snow Storms of 1883 and 1894

According to the Report of the Ohio Meteorological Bureau for the Month of May 1883, a significant snowfall occurred in parts of the state on the 21st and 22nd. The report states:

“A heavy fall of snow occurred on the 21st in the north-western parts of the State. Snow is reported on that date from Dayton, Sidney, Lima, Upper Sandusky, Wauseon, Lebanon, Westerville and Columbus. The greatest depth was 15.5 inches at Lima. At Wauseon, the depth was 6.5 inches, at Sidney 7 inches, at Dayton 2 inches, and at Upper Sandusky 3 inches. At other stations the amount was small. Notwithstanding the depth of the snow and the great area covered by the storm, so far as has been ascertained no particular damage to vegetation resulted from it. One of our observes, Mr. G. A. Hyde, of Cleveland, who has kept a meteorological record for many years, reports that he has recorded but three snow-storms in May during the last 28 years. These were on May 1st, 1861, one-tenth of an inch, May 2nd, 1869, two-tenths of an inch, and May 1st, 1877, three-tenths of an inch.”

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The Great Snowstorm of April 19-21, 1901

It’s been awhile since I’ve made a blog post, but today I’ve awoke my slumber to share some information and pictures pertaining to the significant snowfall in eastern Ohio between April 19th and 21st, 1901. This storm was unprecedented in its ferocity for so late in the season, and is still unmatched in terms of April snowfall. Indeed, the snowfall totals that occurred have rarely been noted in the state of Ohio at any time of the year. Given the warming climate, it would seem unlikely that an event of similar magnitude could ever reoccur at this time of the year — which is all the more reason to save this one for posterity.

Below is a contour map showing a rough distribution of the snowfall, in inches, from this event. Note that much of the eastern half of the state saw more than a foot, with local totals in excess of 36″.

Contour map showing snowfall accumulations during the storm of April 19-21, 1901.

Contour map showing snowfall accumulations during the storm of April 19-21, 1901.

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Cleveland climate history update (1854-2012)

Annual temperature (1855-2012)

Annual temperature (1855-2012)

2012 was the warmest year on record at Cleveland, since continuous records began in April 1855. The mean annual temperature was 54.0F, which was 0.5F warmer than the previous record warm year during the 1998.  The 1998 heat spike was associated with an unusually strong El Nino event that lead to a pronounced warming throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere. The unusual warmth experienced in 2012 was associated primarily with the enhanced greenhouse effect, as atmospheric CO2 concentrations reached at or above 400 ppm in much of the Northern Hemisphere during the spring of 2013.

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Quick Update

I’ve seen some debate on various blogs and forums regarding whether the current El Nino is East- or West-based. In recent months, we saw a warming trend begin in the far equatorial Pacific, in particular the Nino 1+2 and Nino 3 basins. As time has progressed, however, the warming trend has spread westward and now encompasses much of the equatorial Pacific from east of the Dateline to the South American coastline. This can be visualized in the image below, which is a cross-sectional cut along the Equator in the Pacific Ocean region. Although the general trend is warming in all basins, it is worth noting that the most recent frame or two has displayed some tendency for cooling along the surface in the western Nino regions.

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