Here’s What Really Caused Those Record High Western Temperatures
Those were a hot couple of days, weren't they?
In some areas around Wyoming, temperatures jumped as high as 102F.
In all the West and the Midwest went through quite a spike before it settled back down.
So what exactly caused it? That spike set some records, but was it unusual?
You'll see at the bottom of this article that this recent heat wave was not actually anywhere near record-setting.
When in doubt, ask someone who is actually in that field of study. In this case I first spoke with Don Day of Day Weather.
Let's start with a high-pressure system, which in summer, moves across our region.
High pressure turns the air around it in a clockwise direction and, as the name suggests, pushes the air down under a lot of pressure. That cause enough heat right there.
The clockwise turning motion of that high-pressure system drew air up from the southern desert states where it is always outrageously hot in the summer.
So now we have hot desert air being pulled up by a hot high-pressure system.
'Another thing that adds to heat in the high planes desert areas in Wyoming is what we call the Chinook effect.' Don Day explained. 'Where the winds are coming down hill off the mountains. That also compresses the air and causes warming.'
So we have a 1, 2, 3, punch here. That made for a few excessively warm days.
Looking at Europe, which also went through a very hot period at the same time, Don Day explained in his podcast what caused that.
It was the same 1, 2, 3, punch we had here but their air came up from Africa.
Scroll to 6:26 into this video from Don Day's podcast and watch as he lays out what is happening.
Warm spells like these might break some records. But humans have not been taking records for that long.
Actually, in the past, it has been a lot warmer than anything modern humans have experienced.
I went to our own government's NOAA weather service website to pull up the following graph.
When you look at where we are today you'll see that we are currently living in a rather cool and calm period on this planet.
In fact, though most of Earth's history the planet has not even had ice caps.
Geologists and paleontologists have found that, in the last 100 million years, global temperatures have peaked twice. One spike was the Cretaceous Hot Greenhouse roughly 92 million years ago, about 25 million years before Earth’s last dinosaurs went extinct. (NOAA).
Have you ever wondered why the Vikings chose to live in Greenland, which is full of ice and such a cold place? It's because back then Iceland was ice-free and green. (University of Maryland).
The worst heat waves on our planet aren't happening now. They actually occurred 40 years ago in other parts of Earth, according to a review by researchers from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.
The good news is, that as the climate naturally changes, humans have learned to adapt.