June 19, 2017

Today in Weather & Climate: Restarting the newsletter edition (Monday, June 19th)

Hi all,

A quick update: I'm restarting this daily newsletter, starting today. (yay!) A heartfelt thank you to those of you who are reading this, because it means you've stuck with me during my book leave over the past several months. (Whatddi miss?! j/k, I've been obsessively following Twitter in a semi-permanent state of blind panic just like the rest of you!)

I'm hopeful this newsletter will be a consistent companion for those of you interested in keeping in tune with what's happening in our rapidly changing world, with a tilt toward stories that I think are important and being under-reported, or a fresh take on what everyone is talking about. I aim to deliver the newsletter every evening before I got to bed, and I continue to think of this newsletter as what I'm planning to pitch my editor in the morning. An important thing: If you've got a strong take or a resource you think could help my reporting on anything you ever read here, please let me know. I read all responses to this newsletter, and I'd like (as much as possible) for it to be a two-way forum to help us to narrow down the truth.

As for the weather, there's a lot going on right now:

1) There is a horrific and nightmarish forest fire raging in Portugal right now. I'm not sure how else to describe it. On Saturday, it overtook a packed highway and dozens of people died in their cars. The fire may have started due to a dry lightning storm, but what's certain is that temperatures were far above normal for this time of year—about 40°C (104°F), roughly 10-20 degrees above normal. That points toward a clear connection to climate change, which makes extreme heat waves more common. There are also a lot of socioeconomic factors unique to rural Portugal that may have played a role, too.

2) There are two potential tropical systems threatening land right now in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean, which is pretty unusual for June. (The Atlantic basin doesn't normally see its 2nd named tropical storm until August 1st.) One of them has a pretty scary potential for heavy rain and serious flooding somewhere between Texas and the Florida Panhandle, and the other just made meteorological bureaucratic history.

3) Here in Tucson, one of the hottest inhabited places in this land, we're about to kickoff our longest and most intense heat wave in history. At least four days of 110°F+ are in the forecast, and Phoenix will be pushing 120°F. The urban heat island effect in both cities will be making the heat worse, but broader assessments of the extreme state of the atmosphere over Arizona will also be at or very near record levels. By all accounts, this is about the hottest that the hottest part of the country ever gets. Of course, there's a climate link here too: Here in Tucson, we already have nearly a month's worth of extra 100-degree days than we did just 30 years ago.

Thank you so much,

P.S. I'm writing a book about how the weather connects us all, and it's not quite done yet. In the meantime, I need your support. For those that maintain a $5 monthly pledge or higher on Patreon, I'll personally mail you a signed copy of the book once it's out as a token of my appreciation.