A look at weather extremes and the big-picture climate connections.

Heat Wave Sets More All-Time Temperature Records

With widespread power outages still plaguing a multistate swath from Indiana to Virginia after the severe “derecho” event on Friday night, the late June heat wave continues to make headlines. Numerous all-time high temperature records were set on Saturday, with additional records expected to be set during the first few days of July.

Climate Central Record Tracker map showing some of the record temperatures set or tied on June 30, 2012.

Atlanta set an all-time high temperature record on Saturday of 106°F, beating the old record of 105°F set in 1980. Columbus, GA also set an all-time record, with 106°F, beating the record of 105°F set on June 29, and Macon, GA tied its all-time high of 108°F, which was last observed in 1980, according to the National Weather Service.

Several locations in Tennessee also set all-time record highs on Saturday. Knoxville set an all-time record high of 105°F, breaking the previous mark of 104°F set in 1930. Tri-cities broke their all-time high temperature record of 102 when the temperature reached 103°F.

Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C. both tied their all-time high temperature records as well.

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It is unusual for all-time high temperature records to be set during June, since July and August typically feature more intense heat events than those that take place during early summer.

For the seven-day period from June 24-30, 1,924 daily high temperature records were set or tied in the U.S., along with 634 warm overnight low temperature records. Of these records, 565 set or tied monthly high temperature records, and 67 set or tied monthly warm overnight low temperature records.

Remarkably, 155 all-time record high temperatures were set or tied during this period, along with nine all-time record warm overnight lows.

For the year-to-date, there have been 40,113 warm temperature records set or tied, compared to just 5,835 cold records. (These figures, compiled by the National Climatic Data Center, are preliminary.) In other words, the warm temperature records have been outnumbering cold records by about 7-to-1.

In a long-term trend that demonstrates the effects of a warming climate, daily record-high temperatures have recently been outpacing daily record-lows by an average of 2-to-1, and this imbalance is expected to grow as the climate continues to warm. According to a 2009 study, if the climate were not warming, this ratio would be expected to be even. Other studies have shown that climate change increases the odds of extreme heat events and may make them warmer and longer lasting.

Meanwhile, in areas affected by Friday night’s fierce severe thunderstorm event known as a “derecho,” many people are still without power as crews work to restore service amidst downed trees and power lines. Power companies were warning customers to expect outages lasting several more days, as the widespread damage closely rivaled hurricane impacts in some areas. Governors of several states, including Maryland and Virginia, had declared states of emergency to be eligible for federal assistance. The storms are being blamed for at least 13 deaths.

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