Archive for Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Summer forecast doesn’t hold water

Plains likely to see drought, service says

April 18, 2006

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A dire weather forecast issued Monday calls for a hot, dry summer across the Plains reminiscent of the 1930s - the era of the devastating Dust Bowl drought.

The Pennsylvania-based forecasting service AccuWeather.com predicts a high-pressure system will be parked across the central United States much of the summer. The system would lead to scorching-hot days and prevent moisture from coming into the region - something that in turn causes even higher temperatures.

"It's kind of a vicious cycle," said Ken Reeves, the company's director of forecasting operations. "Drought begets heat begets more drought."

The forecast said it was possible that temperatures in some states would challenge the seemingly untouchable heat records set during the 1930s. But Mary Knapp, Kansas' state climatologist, is skeptical.

"I would say it's kind of jumping the gun to say it's going to rival the '30s," she said.

Just how hot were the 1930s in Kansas?

The all-time record temperature for the state is 121 degrees, which was recorded on two separate days in July 1936 in Fredonia and Alton.

Lawrence's record high temperature is 114 degrees, which occurred once in August 1934 and again in August 1936.

Overall, Knapp said, the AccuWeather.com temperature prediction for this summer in Kansas - with temperatures about 3 degrees higher than average - doesn't amount to a dramatic increase.

The lakebed at the Hodgeman County State Fishing Lake and Wildlife Area near Jetmore is nearly dry. The state may face continued dry conditions this summer if a long-term weather forecast issued Monday holds true.

The lakebed at the Hodgeman County State Fishing Lake and Wildlife Area near Jetmore is nearly dry. The state may face continued dry conditions this summer if a long-term weather forecast issued Monday holds true.

Kansas' average high temperature for the month of July the last 35 years has been 90.6 degrees, she said. But in July 1936, the average high temperature was 103.2 degrees.

"If you're 3 degrees warmer than normal for your average high temperature, yeah, it's going to be hot," Knapp said. "But when you look at your record : there's not anything showing that it's going to be a repeat of '36 or '34."

Still, this winter was the fourth driest in state history. In recent weeks, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' office has been issuing drought watches or warnings for counties throughout Kansas.

Bill Wood, Douglas County's agriculture agent for K-State Research and Extension, said the lack of moisture in the soil was causing local farmers to brace themselves for the possibility of poor crop yields.

"Right now, it's looking kind of scary," he said.

The forecast comes as a research group headquartered at Kansas University is preparing to launch a $9.25 million project aimed at predicting large-scale environmental changes such as the Dust Bowl. The grant, announced Monday, will link researchers at KU, Kansas State University and Fort Hays State University in a study of environmental changes along the Kansas River basin.

"If we would have had this grant with the equipment and the computational power : before the Dust Bowl, we would have been able to predict that the Dust Bowl was coming," said Leonard Krishtalka, director of the KU Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center, the lead researcher on the project.

The three-year grant was awarded to the Kansas NSF Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. It comprises $6.75 millionfrom the National Science Foundation and $2.5 million from the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corp.

At Baldwin Feed Co., 1600 High St., owner Steve Wilson has recently heard a few customers make reference to the Dust Bowl days. But overall, it's not the greatest topic of concern.

"They're probably still more concerned with high fertilizer prices," he said.

Comments

Bradley Kemp 9 years, 2 months ago

"'If we would have had this [$9.25 million] grant with the equipment and the computational power : before the Dust Bowl, we would have been able to predict that the Dust Bowl was coming,' said Leonard Krishtalka, director of the KU Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center, the lead researcher on the project."


Apparently, AccuWeather can do it today without nearly $10 million in grant funds.

local_support 9 years, 2 months ago

Global warming? It couldn't be.

(Now go gas up that Hummer @ $4/gallon)

Fatty_McButterpants 9 years, 2 months ago

Man, our parents and grandparents were some tough ombres. I wouldn't want to go through a summer that hot now, let alone when there was no air conditioning!

Husker_Fan 9 years, 2 months ago

If global warming is the cause now, why was it so hot and dry in 1934? It's laughable that every time extreme weather hits people immediately blame the farce that is global warming!

chazmuz 9 years, 2 months ago

We can blame global warming for the end of the ice age, too. Too bad we didn't have factories, automobiles or Bush way back then to blame. I guess it was dinosaur flatulants or too many cavemen fires. (Hey, I'm NOT a Bush fan!!!) There's more to global warming than meets the eye.

cowtater 9 years, 2 months ago

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sun/

I watched a Nova special last night about an interesting effect that has been going on. It answered a question of mine which was why global warming was happening at such a slow pace. As it turns out, the rate of our pollution is what has been countering the effects of global warming. The pollution particles in the air are intercepting sunlight and thus reducing the amount that reaches the earth. This has a twofold effect that affects global climate with huge implications for life on earth.

The first effect is that the effect of sunlight striking the waters of the world is the most significant contributor to evaporation and this in turn affects rainfall globally. The 1984 drought in sub-Saharan Africa is thought to be attributed to the reduced evaporation due to emissions from North America, the reason being that the yearly monsoons did not form as the Atlantic Ocean waters did not warm as they should have as the sun traveled farther northward as the inclination of the earth brought summer to the northern hemisphere. Instead, the water laden clouds that produce the monsoons for many years did not travel northward to the Sahiel area of the Sahara as they should have, resulting in the terrible drought.

This has changed as we have decreased the amount of pollution we are producing in the form of particulates, which does not include greenhouse gases. This effect was demonstrated by an interesting event that was a result of the lack of planes being in the air for three days directly following 9-11. There was a distinct lack of contrails in the air over the US. It resulted in a gigantic spike in the range of daily temperatures (the greates temp minus the lowest temp) over all the US, which had not been seen in more than thirty years previous. These ranges returned to normal after planes again began flying. (To be continued)

cowtater 9 years, 2 months ago

Dimming the sun (continued) The coincidence of the dimming effect on global warming's effects is that there has been an increase in global temperature but it has been subdued due to the interferance of sunlight by our particulate pollution. The implication is that, as we become more pollution free and clean up emmissions, the rate of global warming will increase exponentially. This will result in the increased reduction of the ice caps of the world which will raise the sea levels by the middle of this century approximately 25 meters. This can be further complicated by a unique probability that the methane beds of the oceans can become destabilized due to the changes in sea levels and release billions of tons of methane, an even more significant greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, which will futher warm the planet.

The increasing particulate load in the atmosphere will also reduce rainfall over the South American rainforests, making them more susceptible to fire, which will futher add to the greenhouse gasses and accelerate global warming to the extent that by the year 2100, temperatures globally can become 18 deg F warmer. Desertification of nearly all arable lands will become inevitable, with severe famine following this.

It is anticipated that we have approximately 10 years before we reach a point of no return where this scenario will become inevitable.

This is a piece of the puzzle that has been missing in my understanding of what will be happening to human kind (and the rest of the earths inhabitants) in the foreseeable future. To me, it makes perfect sense. I put the PBS url in front of this piece in case you have not made it this far in reading this. It may spark more people to look into this than my words will. Hopefully, this information will become more accepted by world leaders before it is too late because this is more real and immediate than an asteroid hitting the earth, in my opinion. We do not have that long to see, it appears. If you find this bit of information worthy to pass along, please do so with my blessings.

Ciao!

alexei27 9 years, 2 months ago

Folks...this can only mean one thing....BUY FLOOD INSURANCE!!! :)

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