3 October 2011
My Closet friend was at Salisbury Cathedral Saturday after a drive down from his home in Wales. His car thermometer registered 29° C. That’s 84 degrees Fahrenheit and by UK standards in October, that isn’t just unusual it’s nearly unbelievable! Just some high clouds covered Southern England on Saturday, while an approaching cool front from the Atlantic kept Scotland and North Wales a bit cooler.
The 500 millibar chart (surface pressures are usually around 1000 millibars) shows the pressures and wind flow at about halfway through the troposphere and the incredible high pressure system over NE France is what is responsible for the incredible warmth over western Europe and the UK. As this system drifts eastward and weakens, more normal autumn weather will return.
Is this climate change related you ask? The correct answer is not a simple yes or no, but the best way to think of it is to consider playing a board game where you use dice rolls to move around the board. Let’s say to get a record warm October day in the UK requires two back to back rolls of 12. This will happen from time to time but very rarely. Climate change loads the dice so that they hit double sixes slightly more often. The more greenhouse gases we put in the atmosphere, the more the less fair the dice become!
It was still very warm over the southern areas of the UK on Sunday but not quite as hit as Saturday. To give you an idea of how rare this was, it is a rare July day in England to see temps. approach 30° C! The average high temperatures for early October are about 15˚or 59˚Fahrenheit. All of the weather we experience is just the attempt by nature to balance out the overheating and of low latitudes and the under heating of the polar regions. The low this morning in Huntsville, Alabama was 4°C or 39° F. Which is why looking at one cold pocket or one warm spot tells yo nothing about climate change. You have to look at the planet as a whole, and when you do the there is no longer any doubt among those who look at it scientifically and not politically.
PS I remain fixed in my belief that most Americans are smart enough to convert to Celsius, (like the rest of the world) no matter what the detractors say.