Climate change means WEIRD weather

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Weather Nerdiness & RANT ahead!

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When the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, and the last river is polluted; when to breathe the air is sickening, you will realize, too late, that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can’t eat money.

-Alanis Obomsawin (Abenaki tribe)

So last winter was quite warm, and this spring has been cold and wet and WEIRD. Last weekend, Friday thru Sunday, we got 6 & a half inches of RAIN.  That’s a LOT of rain!

It seems in the last 3 months, every time I checked the weather it was about 15 to 25 degrees (Fahrenheit) below normal, and then we’d have a 50 degree jump in temp for 2 days and then back to colder weather. As I was thinking about it this morning, I decided to get some actual data and not just rely on my own memory & perceptions.

Averages for the last 29 years Averages for this year
Avg. Jan. temps: 51/32 Avg. Jan. 2013 temps: 69/33
Avg. Feb. temps: 56/36 Avg. Feb. 2013 temps: 54/33
Avg. Mar. temps: 65/42 Avg. Mar. 2013 temps: 62/35
Avg. Apr. temps: 74/50 Avg.  Apr. 2013 temps:77/44
Avg. May temps: 81/59 Avg. May 2013  temps: (so far): 70/48

Temperature averages in the left column are from: National Climatic Data Center. NOAA’s 1981-2010 Climate Normals.

Temperature averages in the right column are from www.wunderground.com

I spent a while trying create a graph that might be more enlightening (the Web *is* visual….) but what I came up with was more confusing, kinda like this:

…so I ditched the graph idea. Sorry.

So I will pull out a few things that might not jump out at you immediately. I know- yer on the edge of yer seat!! nyuk nyuk nyuk.

Looking at my little table and starting with February, over the last 29 years, the average daily high has been 56 degrees and the low 36. In Feb 2013, the average high was 54 and low was 33.  This doesn’t look so bad at first, but compared to how warm Jan 2013 was – 69 high and 33 low- it felt QUITE cold. The vegetation ’round here was rather confused.

Moving into March 2013 – daily avg. high of 62 and low of 35 – still it doesn’t look that bad BUT historically from January thru March, the temp rises about 14 degrees.  This year, January’s average was 69, which is warmer than March’s historical avg high!  So we jumped off the cliff at the end on February and have not yet recovered.  We had a weekend of temperatures near 90 degrees in March which really skewed our averages (same thing happened in April). And remember we had snow at the beginning & end of March and again at the beginning of April WHICH IS SUPER SUPER WEIRD FOR ALABAMA. We barely get snow in December and January, like EVER.

But what’s even more important here are daily average low temperatures from January til now (not quite halfway thru May). Look at this; historically it rises 6 to 8 degrees each month for a rise of 27 degrees over 5 months: 32-36-42-50-59.  This year, this is how it has gone so far: 33-33-35-44-48!  I’ll do the math for you= a rise of only 15 degrees over 4 months and a week. If you are a vegetable gardener, ok – if yer a human being, this is SERIOUS.

Not only do the seeds NOT germinate and the transplants sit there NOT flourishing, but the birds & bugs go after them EVEN MORE  because their usual foodstuffs – the vegetation ’round here – either aren’t available enough or at all. And when it is cold & wet, all of the molds & blights & wilts are encouraged, exacerbating the whole situation.

I am REALLY concerned because our area is ALSO predicted to have drought conditions again this summer. I am REALLY concerned because these extremes are supposed to get worse EVEN IF we reduced CO2 emissions to zero right now. This summer, Studmuffin & I are hoping to feed the family about 50% out of the garden, but now we are thinking that it may not happen. So far, we have re-planted peas, carrots & spinach three times, cucumbers, marigold & sunflowers twice and I’m about to replant corn, peppers & pole beans. And cucumbers AGAIN.

Friends, I think we are ALL gonna have to GET SERIOUS about the weather. I could go on & on – you know I usually do! – but this time I think I’m just gonna say we are gonna have get out of our comfort zone – like WAY out – and we are gonna have to do it together and I mean EVERYBODY.   The number 1 thing people can do to reduce their carbon footprint (according to my home insurance company) is to stop using the dryer and hang your clothes to dry.   Start there. I’m gonna be constructing a solar oven myself soon……

I leave you to meditate on this:

When the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, and the last river is polluted; when to breathe the air is sickening, you will realize, too late, that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can’t eat money.

-Alanis Obomsawin (Abenaki tribe)

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2 comments

  1. Solar clothes drying and solar hot water makes a huge difference in your monthly utility bill as well. And yes this is the either widest weirdest weather ever. We have relit the wood stove 3 times this spring….that has never happened before.

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