There are three different weather stories for us to talk about this issue. The first story is a little old already, but as we publish only biweekly this sometimes happens. The week of June 14-21 saw yet another in what seems like an endless series of strong areas of low pressure move through the Prairies and it bought with it more heavy rain. In some years you pray that a passing cloud will give you some rain, but this year it seems that every cloud that comes by drops some!
An unusually strong area of low pressure moved into our region on Thursday June 17 and by the 19th some areas of the southern Prairies had seen upwards of 150mm of rain. According to Environment Canada a large area of southern Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan saw rainfall totals exceeding well over 50mm from this storm, and all that rain fell on what was already a rain-weary area. Some of the totals from that storm are listed on the chart to the right.
Our second weather story is that of record-breaking global temperatures during May, and for the first five months of this year. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) the globe recorded its warmest May since record-keeping began in 1880. The May temperature anomaly of 0.69 C beat the previous record set in 1998 by 0.06 C. This means that the planet has now had three consecutive warmest months on record, the first time that has happened since 1998.
NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies also rated May 2010 as the warmest May on record, tied with May 1998. Both NOAA and NASA rate the last five months as the warmest such period on record, and the last 12 months (June 2009 to May 2010) as the warmest 12-month period on record.
May 2010 global ocean temperatures were the second-warmest on record, while land temperatures were the warmest on record. For those of you who feel that the only reliable source of global temperatures are the satellite-based temperatures, global satellite-measured temperatures for the lowest eight kilometres of the atmosphere were the second-warmest on record in May, according to both the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH) and Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) groups.
While May brought average to slightly below-average temperatures to our part of the world, Asia recorded some of its hottest temperatures ever. On May 26 in Mohenju-Daro in Pakistan, the thermometer hit an amazing 53.5 C, which was not just an all-time record for Pakistan, but also the continent of Asia. I don’t know about you, but for me 53 C is insanely hot!
Ice gets thinner
Our final weather story is the Arctic ice cover. In March and April of this year the Arctic saw a late season growth spurt of ice which brought ice levels to near the long term average. This had a number of people speculating that arctic ice was going back to normal amounts and that the low levels we have seen over the last several years were simply an anomaly. Well, during May and June, the Arctic saw the fastest decline in ice cover ever recorded. By the end of May ice extent in the Arctic was at a record low and this continued right through June. Interestingly though, ice melt has slowed dramatically during the first week of July.
It could be an interesting summer in the Arctic as total ice volume is also at record-low levels, with most of the ice being thin first-and second-year ice. If the Arctic continues to experience above-average temperatures this year we will like have very little ice remaining by the time fall rolls around.