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New Study Predicts Hotter Heatwaves For US

December 18, 2012

By Paul Homewood



From the “Who Would Have Guessed That Department”, news that scientists from the University of Tennessee have predicted that the Northeastern United States will suffer much worse heatwaves by 2050.

According to the authors, their models show that “Both the heat waves and the extreme precipitation in 2057–9 are more severe than the present climate in the Eastern US. The Northeastern US shows large increases in both heat wave intensity (3.05 C higher) “


Computer models at Notalot, unfortunately, are not sophisticated enough to predict the weather in 40 years time. Still, we can look at what has actually been happening in recent years. After all, such rapid warming would surely already have been noticed in the last decade or so?


Let’s start by looking at NOAA’s Climate Extremes Index for the Northeast.




This graph shows the percentage of the region affected by maximum temperatures much higher (or lower) than normal, in this case during the summer.

The most extreme year was 1949, with 2005 in second place. There is no apparent long term trend over the last 20 years and current conditions look similar to the 1930-1960 period. This should surprise nobody who is familiar with the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation:-


File:Amo timeseries 1856-present.svg


The above figures, of course, only offer up average temperatures for the whole summer. So could the averages be covering up more extreme weather? To answer that question, we can look at individual station records.

Charlotteburg is a rural USHCN station in New Jersey. Station metadata from NOAA confirms that the station has been in pretty much the same location since 1893.

Below is the chart from USHCN, which gives the daily distribution of maximum temperatures for each year since 1893. (This year’s data will not be uploaded until the year is complete). It shows that the highest temperatures were recorded in the 1930’s. Certainly the last two decades are warmer than the colder interlude between 1960 and 1980, but the trend is flat since the step change.


The days when temperatures reached 100F are listed below.


Year Max Temp F
1936 105
1936 103
1937 103
1936 102
1936 102
1937 102
1935 101
1933 100
1953 100
1999 100


By contrast, the highest temperature recorded in the last decade was 99F. It is clearly a nonsense to suggest that the hottest days are getting hotter.

(Although this year’s numbers are not yet included in the USHCN database, the original station records for Charlotteburg confirm that the highest temperature recorded this summer was 95F).


This is only one station in one state, but previous analysis has produced similar results for Pennsylvania, New York and Maine.


The authors state that their projections are based on the period 2001-04. It is hard to see what credibility their study has, if there has been, as yet, no discernible trend of the type they have forecast.

One Comment
  1. Brian H permalink
    December 19, 2012 4:03 am

    The ITR* computer sims carry on carrying on.

    *Immune To Reality

Comments are closed.

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