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America’s Drought

So I spent most of Sunday in bed, suffering from an allergy attack so bad that I had no energy at all. It rained again Sunday. It’s been raining almost every day for a while now. It’s forecast to rain here every day this week. I think this must have something to do with my allergic reaction. I was thinking, though, that given all the drought years of the recent past, it’s a real blessing to have all this rain. I was even thinking that with the exception of Colorado, the rest of the country must be doing okay with rainfall.

Boy, was I wrong. Seriously wrong. Here is the most recent drought map of the US.  [1] I live in one of the few places in America that isn’t in drought, or at least abnormally dry. The NYT reports that ranchers are devastated.  [2] And a big new study finds that global warming has made extreme drought events in the US far more likely [3].

Are you living in a drought area? What are you seeing on the ground in your community?

I should say that London mayor Boris Johnson cites [4] a weather forecaster of his acquaintance who says that the UK is actually about to enter a long cold spell. For what that’s worth (it may not be worth much [5]). Also, damn, that BoJo can write. From his column:

change_me

I put down the phone and gazed at the teeming skies. I considered my options. Maybe it was time for prayer. Perhaps we could stage a pagan ritual at Stonehenge, involving either the sacrifice of maidens (if there are any these days), or a goat, or a rabbit, or maybe just a worm — whatever the RSPCA would allow.

Maybe it was time to call upon the sun god Ra, or Phoebus Apollo, or Sol Victrix, or whatever name he now goes by, and lift our hands in chanting entreaty. Come on, O thou fiery spirit that animates the world. Come on out from wherever you are hiding. Shine the light of your countenance upon us, you miserable blighter. Extend thy beams, so reverend and strong, and dry the water from our upturned cheeks. Flatter the mountain tops with your sovereign eye, vaporise the thunderheads, and give us all a break.

Give us poor Britons some kind of a summer – before the entire country dissolves like a sugar cube and sinks into the sea.

By the way, it is hotter this week in Philadelphia than it is here in south Louisiana. That has been happening a lot this summer.

42 Comments (Open | Close)

42 Comments To "America’s Drought"

#1 Comment By Brian On July 16, 2012 @ 9:43 am

Ah, yes, back to the “Hot Weather Equals Global Warming!” fun. Sweet. I missed those days.

#2 Comment By Pat On July 16, 2012 @ 9:49 am

Last year I went to Tanzania in August, and it was cooler than Milwaukee.

We’re in drought up here, all right. The paper says corn will not pollinate unless we get some rain within the next week. For this week the forecast is temps up to the high 90s, with possible thunderstorms – but they’ve been saying possible storms since the beginning of June, and only two very brief ones have actually occurred. Send us some of that rain!

#3 Comment By James On July 16, 2012 @ 10:10 am

I’m in upstate NY, and in the nearly 9 years we’ve lived hear, I’ve never, ever watered my lawn. I own a sprinkler I bought for the kids to play in, but it hadn’t seen the light of day even for that purpose in a couple of years. We just returned home from a trip back to our native West Texas where drought has been a +/- seven year reality. Even though we had a (relatively) dry winter and a warmer than usual spring, I expected my normal green jungle to greet me after two weeks of absence. Not so. Grass as brown as West Texas all over the place. Even the grass at the park at Niagara Falls was brown and crunchy.

Farmers in NY are hurting (yes, there are farmers in NY…$3.6billion/yr of our economy). First a freakishly warm week in spring took out 2/3 of much of the apple crops for this coming fall, along with hits to strawberries, concord grapes, and blueberries, and now a drought.

#4 Comment By Josh Bishop On July 16, 2012 @ 10:28 am

We’re in a moderate drought here in W. Michigan — about half an inch of rain in the whole month of June, paired with record heat, and only a scattered shower or two so far in July. Our crops are drying up in the fields, and the corn looks pathetic. Everywhere I look are brown fields and lawns. Our CSA is struggling, too, as water and irrigation costs are getting too high for the small nonprofit to cope with.

Even worse, our exceptionally mild winter brought our fruit and berries to bloom far earlier than usual, only to be killed off by a few days of frost. I’ve heard that some farmers consider themselves lucky if they only lost 70 percent of their crops; the small orchard up the road from my in-laws house lost everything. We’ll be anemic on apples here, and the cherry crop a little north of us got hit pretty hard, too. A rough time all around.

#5 Comment By Beyng On July 16, 2012 @ 10:38 am

Yes, this summer in the continental United States has been abnormally hot and dry. Summer of 2009 was abnormally cold and wet. What’s your point?

#6 Comment By Gretchen On July 16, 2012 @ 10:46 am

Here in Kansas we’ve had 100-plus temps and no rain for weeks. The trees are turning brown, as is the grass and other plants.
I don’t understand why we can’t even discuss the possibility of doing something about climate change until it’s too far along to stop. We all have fire insurance on our houses, even though the likelihood of the house burning down is very small, because it would be devastating if it happened. But the thinking seems to be that we’ll keep burning oil and coal until we’re 100% sure that climate change is a problem – 99% isn’t enough to take precautions. I’m very concerned we’ll push past the point of no return before we try to do anything about it.

#7 Comment By texasaggiemom On July 16, 2012 @ 10:48 am

We live in West Texas, which is a dry climate all the time. This year is bad, but not as hot as last summer. If we are going to be able to sustain the population growth that our fearless leaders are courting and promoting, then we have to change our lifestyle. When you mention water rationing out here, the rugged individualists and property rights advocates go crazy. But you cannot irrigate acre lots of bermuda, with sprinklers running all day long in the heat and wind and think we can continue that.

We had moved out into the county in a large lot subdivision and were horrified by what people were doing with their lawns. The water rates in town are high, so, people are moving out of the city limits and drilling wells. Then they can pump to their heart’s content–aquifer levels be damned. We moved back into town, because at least there’s a plan for water consumption. When the wells go dry, those subdivisions will be ghost towns.

People out here never want government intervention, but they don’t seem to want to do the right thing by their community without coercion, either. I’m a strong believer in property rights, but underground water isn’t something you can section off. Not sure how this is going to pan out, but the fight should be something else.

#8 Comment By Gretchen On July 16, 2012 @ 10:49 am

And Brian, it’s not “hot weather equals global warming”. It’s that 10 of the hottest summers in history have happened in the last 12 years. We’ve been keeping records for 150 years, and haven’t seen anything like this. Why can’t we at least consider the possibility that something is happening and try to do something about it. When your car starts making a weird noise, do you check it out, or do you just keep driving it until it stops dead on a lonely road before you consider the possibility that something is wrong?

#9 Comment By Susan On July 16, 2012 @ 10:54 am

Hi Rod, I wasn’t sure how to contact you privately, so I hope it is okay to contact you this way. That you feel worse with rain may be a symptom of mold allergies. Also if you feel better during the time of day when the humidity is lower or days the humidity is lower overall vs. higher humidity days could be a warning flag.

I moved from Colorado to Texas in 2004 and became sick and ever sicker even though I was going to some of the top doctors in Dallas. I even went to one of the “super doctor” allergists with no relief. Finally, in 2010, I went to an alternative doctor and found out the moldy apartment I was living in had caused me health problems. I started getting better after moving to a different apartment and then moved into another moldy apartment and started having the same problems: can’t stay awake, mild headaches, brain fog, short term memory loss, etc.

Please consider finding a doctor who understands the health problems caused by mold and have your housing inspected for mold. Things like the air ducts, HVAC system, water leaks, and any musty smelling cabinets, closets, and so forth. An air sample can also used to compare indoor vs. outdoor air.

Warm regards,
Susan

#10 Comment By Connie On July 16, 2012 @ 10:56 am

My kids are leaving for New Orleans tomorrow for the ELCA youth convention, and it will be cooler (and rainier) there than in Wisconsin.

It’s very, very dry in the southern half of the state, although the farmers in the north have had sufficient rain. Last year, farmers in Wisconsin and Iowa were shipping hay to drought areas in Texas, Kansas, and Nebraska, but that practice is unlikely to continue this year. The corn leaves here look like pineapple stalks. Our aged apple tree has one fruit this year. The Door County (Wisconsin) cherry crop, along with most of the lower Michigan fruit crop, is a sad shell of its normal self.

Anthropomorphic global warming or normal shifts in the weather pattern, who knows.

#11 Comment By Brian On July 16, 2012 @ 11:03 am

“10 of the hottest summers in history have happened in the last 12 years.”

Sorry, but no. Nice try, but not even close.

It’s a crying shame that “How ’bout this weather we’re having?”, the all-time champeen conversation starter, has been hopelessly corrupted and folded into “Let’s talk about politics!”, the all-time conversation killer.

#12 Comment By Gretchen On July 16, 2012 @ 12:04 pm

Brian. Why are you so invested in disbelieving the evidence? Why not take precautions in case the scientists are right. Most climate scientists think something is happening and we shoud do something about it. Most of those who don’t work for the oil companies. Again, in most situations in life, when you think something is going wrong, you take precautions before it gets worse. But climate change deniers are actively hostile to the idea of doing anything, because they can find little niggles of doubt somewhere. Again, why are you so invested in not doing anything, despite all the evidence around us?

#13 Comment By Matt On July 16, 2012 @ 12:14 pm

Global Warming is dead, and has been since 2008. If you want people to waste money on the environment, then you will have to make sure they have money to waste. Once people saw how much it would cost to, as the Great Men said, not even make much of a dent in the pattern, the gig was up.

#14 Comment By Beyng On July 16, 2012 @ 12:23 pm

Gretchen,

No one’s “disbelieving” or denying any evidence. In order to do that, one must be apprised of the evidence in the first place.

And you certainly are not apprised of the evidence for global climate change. Your claim that “10 of the hottest summers in history have happened in the past 12 years” is simply blatantly, factually untrue. Entirely false. In fact, this summer–even with its prolonged stretches of 100+ degree heat–isn’t even in the list of top ten hottest summers yet. Your claim is also exaggerated: this is certainly not the hottest summer in history, given that there is evidence that the “age of the dinosaurs,” for example, was much warmer than our own day (tropical fossils in Antarctica?). In sum, this isn’t even the hottest summer on record, and the record only goes back 150 years.

Yes, the climate is changing. It’s always been changing. It’s quite possible that human beings have something–certainly not everything, though–to do with it. But it doesn’t help your cause to make spurious, sensationalist claims.

And it also doesn’t help to observe that this summer is unusually hot. Again, so what? As I said, the summer of 2009 was unusually cold. The weather has hence made for interesting conversation-starters lately, but to see in your thermometer harbingers of the apocalypse indicates a failure of consciousness on your part, an eschatological pathology. Americans managed to avoid doomsday prophecies in the summer of 1936, even as they suffered through the Dust Bowl.

#15 Comment By Beyng On July 16, 2012 @ 12:25 pm

(Not to mention that the designation “hottest summer on record” would seem foolish to Europeans who are experiencing an extremely wet summer, and Alaskans an extremely cold summer.)

It’s the weather, folks. Say a prayer for the farmers and deal with it. Next summer will be better.

#16 Comment By James On July 16, 2012 @ 12:30 pm

@texasaggiemom,

I’ve seen what you’re saying. I’m originally from Tom Greene County, and from ranching/farming family. W. Texans have indeed always been rugged individualists, but up until recently, were also staunch conservationists, especially where water was concerned. Somewhere in the past couple of decades conservationism got lumped with environmental-extremism (they aren’t even on the same plain), and now people have the “it’s mine, buzz off” attitude about resources. It’ll be our undoing, and a good example of why we should never let our attitudes and views be defined by an overreaction to an opposite extreme.

#17 Comment By James On July 16, 2012 @ 12:31 pm

(And yeah, I know there’s no 3rd “e” in Green…d’oh!)

#18 Comment By Gretchen On July 16, 2012 @ 12:34 pm

Matt, there are much greater costs to doing nothing. Once we run out of water, we can’t make more. Once summer temperatures are higher than the temperatures at which photosynthesis can occur, we won’t be able to feed ourselves. Germany gets a good portion of its electricity from solar, while the oil companies here actively try to prevent alternative energies. If we subsidized wind and solar to the extent we subsidize the oil companies, we’d be way ahead of the game. Unfortunately, our politics are bought and sold by the corporations.

#19 Comment By seaoctopus On July 16, 2012 @ 1:25 pm

Living in the PNW, we have been blessed with a mild wet summer so far. I just did the STP ride ( Seattle to Portland bike ride ) and rode through rain with temperatures in the mid-fifties until it cleared up.

#20 Comment By Monterey On July 16, 2012 @ 1:27 pm

No droughts here in Seattle. Wouldn’t mind a wee bit of one and lots more sun.

#21 Comment By Beyng On July 16, 2012 @ 1:39 pm

Gretchen:

Please acquaint yourself with facts!

In the United States, “big oil” companies receive “subsidies” that, depending on how you assess the number, amount to somewhere between 10 billion and 52 billion dollars. The latter figure includes a number of policies that don’t actually constitute direct subsidies, but I’ll grant that figure for the sake of argument. (Note, by the way, that $52 billion is a miniscule percentage of the federal budget.)

It costs about $10,000 just to convert a single private residence to solar power, and those solar arrays often won’t even generate enough electricity for the home to disconnect entirely from the public grid. Thus, if we reappropriated all oil “subsidies” for solar subsidies, the federal government could enable about 5,200,000 homes to convert to solar power. You’ll notice that this isn’t very many homes, and that it won’t change the way automobiles or industries or all other activities are powered.

Meanwhile, “alternative” energies already receive billions and billions in direct subsides. Remember Solyndra? Ethanol? Biomass (the Hot Thing at the moment)? The Navy’s “Green Fleet”? And the companies who invest in these alternative energies are often the big oil and power companies! They know where the money is.

I don’t know what you’re on about, and the idea that subsidizing solar and wind power more than we already do would even slightly alter the course of global climate change is patently absurd.

Seriously people. The summer is hot. Ric Romero reports. More at 11.

#22 Comment By Texasaggiemom On July 16, 2012 @ 2:41 pm

@James: you’re right. The property rights discussion when it comes to water is so far over the top that you can’t rationally discuss it with a lot of people. Shame, because we’re losing time in figuring how best to deal with the situation.

#23 Comment By Sands On July 16, 2012 @ 2:47 pm

What difference a year makes. Last year was the driest in Texas history, and Texas is a drought prone state. Man it was two shades hotter ‘n hell. This summer we’ve had flooding and few days of high temps in Houston in the mid-80’s.

#24 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On July 16, 2012 @ 2:56 pm

Josh Bishop,

Where are you in West Michigan? I spend my summers (usually May-August) at a Michigan State research station in the greater Kalamazoo area, so yeah, we’ve been living through that same West Michigan drought you’re talking about.

I should mention here, that I was at a pool party on Saturday, at the home of a very hard-core evangelical friend of mine, and most of the people there were her friends from church. One of them made the comment that even if global warming is real, it doesn’t matter. God promised to Noah that he wouldn’t let the world flood again, so somehow He will keep the polar ice caps from melting.

It was pretty depressing to hear. Personally, my concern for the environment is part and parcel of the same skepticism of modern, liberal-capitalist civilisation that stems from my religious faith. And it makes me roll my eyes to hear Christians abusing their own faith to justify a lack of concern for the environment. Just like too many Episcopalians have become mindless hacks for the Democratic Party, including with regard to horribly un-Christian practices like abortion, so too many evangelicals have lined up in lockstep behind the party of economic greed, foreign wars, and environmental irresponsibility.

#25 Comment By cui bono (in TX) On July 16, 2012 @ 4:07 pm

Rod: Here’s a refutation of the WaPO and US News hysteria about X times more likely. Written by a Global warming proponent.
[6]

His Money QUote: This is only one if series of weak global warming scare articles. My own sensitivity to the issue came five years ago when certain folks (including a coauthor of the Texas article) were hyping that global warming was resulting in the rapid loss of the Cascade snowpack (which has not declined in 30 years by the way). These folks think they are doing society a favor by hyping global warming impacts now and in the past. They aren’t. Most of the impacts of global warming due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas increases are in the future and society will not believe us if you cry wolf now.

This work will only hammer the credibility of the scientific community at a time when society needs to be taking global warming seriously.

You might also check out this most recent study… [7]

The truth is that there are Scientists and $cientists. Cui Bono?

#26 Comment By cecelia On July 16, 2012 @ 4:20 pm

dry here in NJ – I am actually concerned my hydranga bushes are dying – despite giving them water – the dirt just crumbles it is so dry and so of course the water gets absorbed by all this dry ground and the poor bushes get nada. But – my tomatoes are doing great!

BTW – read that 97% of the tart cherry crop destroyed on the trees because of weather.

#27 Comment By The Mighty Favog On July 16, 2012 @ 4:40 pm

The NOAA’s drought-severity map indicates that Omaha is “severely dry,” just a notch down from the worst category, “excessively dry.”

[8]

It has been weeks since we had significant rainfall — we’ve had 3.5 inches since June 1 and .01 inches since July 1. Let me put it this way: The grass has stopped growing; ours hasn’t had to be cut in two weeks.

It’s also hot as the blazes. We spent a couple of weeks around or above 100 degrees, had a normal week last week (which felt like a comparative cold snap), and are going back up to around 100 this week.

Basically, this sucks. And the droughts in the Midwest are growing closer and closer together. My money’s on global warming.

If you go to the Weather Channel website, you’ll see the headline “2012 Drought Rivals Dust Bowl.” And if you go here, you’ll see the NOAA drought prediction:

[9]

Yeah, it’s getting bad.

#28 Comment By Liam On July 16, 2012 @ 5:06 pm

“Climate change”, not “global warming”.

One of the things that was foreseen a generation ago is that weather extremes would likely intensify in many places. Some places would likely get cooler, on average, and many more would likely get warmer. One key thing is that, with the dramatic reduction in polar ice (not just its extent but how long it stays in place in the colder part of the year) is removing a moderating force for the weather. That means that, for folks in non-arid temperate zones like the eastern half of the USA, winters are likely to be shorter but with a higher risk of being fiercer, especially in the first half of winter, because the polar ice is taking longer to return – and, until it does, all that water vapor is available to feed into the jet stream and cause more disturbances to move over the pole between Asia and North America. And then also there is more likelihood of subtropical moisture being brought into play for longer. Et cet. Some years, people in a given place will luck out, but an increasing number of winters will be of that shorter-but-more-fierce variety.

And, on the flip side, the typical aridity that afflicts certain areas in midsummmer was foreseen to have a higher risk of becoming longer in duration.

One thing I know: in my three decades of living in Boston (just 3 miles from the ocean), my garden journals reveal that Boston’s growing has become what I grew up with on Long Island, even milder, perhaps approaching that of the middle of NJ. This winter, I joked I had a Charlottesville winter (a blissful change from the prior winter where we had 7 feet of snow in the first six weeks of winter, and then very little after that – not the historical pattern for our area, but in the past 5-6 years, the front-loading of winter has become a new and relatively recurrent pattern).

#29 Comment By JonF On July 16, 2012 @ 6:27 pm

Not too bad here in Baltimore– if you can ignore the heat. We had a super-mild winter (“unwinter”) but a beautiful and very mild spring. Only since late June has the furnace really kicked on high– 106 a week ago. However this has been accompanied by thunderstorms, including the really violent one a couple weeks ago that left many parts of the Northeast without power (luckily not us right here in the city). However even with rain the extreme heat has not been good for some of our plants. Not everything is turning brown, but the less heat tolerant things are dying– there are “weeping” evergreens outside my office that look like they are native to the Adirondacks or the UP of Michigan– and they are not long for this world now. My garden has been a struggle too. My potted eggplants were starting to die off despite being watered twice day; I even had bring them inside during the worst days. My beans are on life support, and may not make it. And even the peppers and tomatoes, which normally like heat, have stopped fruiting after a great start. While the cucumber vines are making a bid to conquer the back yard yet failing to produce any cukes.

I joke on Facebook about how nice my looming Florida visit (for my cousin’s birthday at the end of the month) will be, a chance to cool off in more temperate climes!

#30 Comment By Andrea On July 16, 2012 @ 7:00 pm

I don’t know that North Dakota is in a drought but it has been in the mid 90s or higher and incredibly humid for the last two or three weeks. It’s miserable and dangerous weather for people who don’t have air conditioning. Before too long it will start affecting crops. Odd to be in a drought-like state after having a major flood and never ending rain last summer here.

#31 Comment By Joe On July 16, 2012 @ 7:10 pm

“Last year I went to Tanzania in August, and it was cooler than Milwaukee.”

Yes, since Tanzania is in the southern hemisphere and August is their winter, it is not entirely unexpected that it would be cooler than somewhere else experiencing a summer.

#32 Comment By Joe On July 16, 2012 @ 7:12 pm

“Odd to be in a drought-like state after having a major flood and never ending rain last summer here.”

Warmer air can carry more water than cooler air. That either means either a) it can rain more in some areas or b) it can absorb more moisture in other areas. It’s well expected that global warming would cause more flooding in some areas and more droughts in others. The problem is it’s not at all consistent where.

#33 Comment By Joe On July 16, 2012 @ 7:14 pm

“The truth is that there are Scientists and $cientists.”

Yes, I hear cancer researchers are only it for the money too.

#34 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On July 16, 2012 @ 7:19 pm

RE: read that 97% of the tart cherry crop destroyed on the trees because of weather.

Yes. I live in a big cherry growing state (Michigan). One of my good friends is a commercial fruit & vegetable farmer (including cherries), and I know a bunch of people who do research on cherry trees. You read right, the cherries in Michigan have been wiped out (90% or so of the harvest destroyed). The cherry wine makers had to import cherries from Poland this year.

#35 Comment By Joe On July 16, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

“I don’t know what you’re on about, and the idea that subsidizing solar and wind power more than we already do would even slightly alter the course of global climate change is patently absurd.”

The idea was never to convert 100% of our grid in a year. The idea was to eventually get technologies cheap enough where we can eventually. Solar is just a single option. (Wind and nuclear are other non-carbon options.) We have already massively cut our carbon emissions by sheer chance that natural gas is now half the price of coal, which also halves carbon emissions as well. As solar continues exponentially (with an installed base doubling every two years), natural gas can be a perfect complement to more intermittent carbon free sources. At the current rate of doubling, solar could overtake the grid in about 18 years.

Also we don’t have to convert 100% of the grid, only the carbon portion. About 33% of our electricity comes from nuclear and hydroelectric. They can continue with no deleterious effects to global warming.

Similarly with carbon-free transportation options. As I point out, the first cell phones cost $3,000 (or $12,000 in today’s dollars). A mere 25 years later, nearly everyone in the country had one. Technology always gets cheaper over time. The idea is to keep the R&D and the ramp up going at a steady pace and we will get there.

#36 Comment By Gus On July 16, 2012 @ 9:53 pm

I hate these threads. They always devolve into pissing matches between people who aren’t experts on either side. The truth is that the majority of climate scientists believe in human caused global climate change. I’ll take their words for it because by my observation, the climate has changed in my neck of the woods, but that’s all I’ll say. I find it hilarious that people think scientists are getting rich off their climate research. Seems to me like they’d be better off being in hock to the carbon energy companies, like PA’s government.

#37 Comment By JonF On July 16, 2012 @ 9:54 pm

Re: The problem is it’s not at all consistent where.

Overall it will mean a wetter world. To get an idea what it will be like, study the Pliocene era, which was as warm (or maybe warmer*) than we are likely to get, and in which the continents, mountain ranges etc were pretty much as they are today. It was a much wetter world.

* Back in the Pliocene parts of Antarctica were not only ice free but boasted coniferous forests. But Florida was nothing but the northward extension of the Bahamas since much of it was underwater.

#38 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 16, 2012 @ 9:59 pm

Global warming? What makes you think record high temperatures, widespread drought, half the Arctic Ocean melting, is evidence of Global Warming? That’s just what Al Gore wants you to think. Therefore, you must find some other way to think about it. Because there is no Global Warming. It would be both inconvenient and expensive if it were true, so it can’t be. Therefore, it isn’t. So there is no Global Warming. Pay no attention to that thermometer going over 100 degrees in climates that seldom used to reach 90.

#39 Comment By alcogito On July 17, 2012 @ 1:22 am

Just because it is hot and dry where you are doesn’t mean it is that way everywhere. In the Northwest it has been very chilly and rainy. The Seattle area had its normal quota of rain for June by the 7th and then it kept on raining the rest of the month. After the 4th of July it stopped (more or less) and we may have our typical summer, no rain for 7 weeks and in the 70s.

By the way, I got a note from a correspondent in Wales. They are having a very cool wet summer in the UK and they are worried that it may damage the Olympics.

#40 Comment By grendel On July 17, 2012 @ 2:05 pm

well it is just Wikipedia, but:
“The list of warmest years on record is dominated by years from this millennium; each of the last 11 years (2001–2011) features as one of the 12 warmest on record. Global temperatures are affected by the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), with the extremes of El Niño and La Niña leading respectively to unusually warm and cool years. 2010 as an El Niño topped the previous record set in the El Niño year of 1998. While 2011 as an La Niña year was cooler, it was still the 11th warmest year since records began in 1880. Over the more recent record, 2011 was the warmest “La Niña year” in the period from 1950 to 2011, and was close to the global temperatures of 1997 which was not at the lowest point of the cycle.[45]
Although the NCDC temperature record begins in 1880, less certain reconstructions of earlier temperatures suggest these years may be the warmest for several centuries to millennia.”

[10]

#41 Comment By Joe On July 17, 2012 @ 3:44 pm

“By the way, I got a note from a correspondent in Wales. They are having a very cool wet summer in the UK and they are worried that it may damage the Olympics.”

It’s worth pointing out that London is on a latitude north of Winnipeg.

#42 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 17, 2012 @ 9:36 pm

When large areas experience unaccustomed drought, it generally means the rain is falling in larger quantities than needed in a few other areas. If persistent warm, high pressure is dominating the middle of the continent, then the rain will fall in larger quantities in the Pacific northwest, for instance. Sometimes it is worth adjusting a delicate balance, if we can… but a long growing season isn’t much use without water for the plants to take up as they grow.