The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Extreme weather in the Midwest

Less than two weeks ago, southern Minnesota had 25 cm of snow on the ground. Yesterday, the region hit 40°C following the biggest two-day temperature swing in decades:

Even more dramatic were the stunning weather changes which occurred to Chicago's west Tuesday. Soaring temperatures smashed records from Nebraska into western Iowa, Minnesota and western Wisconsin—areas which less than 2 weeks earlier had been crippled by a record-breaking foot or more of late-season snow.

Albert Lea, Minnesota recorded a 38°C high Tuesday. Only 12 days earlier that city had been buried under a 250 mm accumulation of snow.

Iowa's state climatologist Harry Hillaker reported in a special weather statement out of the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Des Moines Tuesday that 38°C or higher temperatures have occurred in the month of May on only 11 occasions since official weather records began in the state in 1873. Even rarer have been 38°C readings two weeks after a major snowstorm. Hillaker reports this has happened only a few times over that period.

Here in Chicago, O'Hare hit 33°C and Midway hit 32°C, while at Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters—800 m from Lake Michigan—the temperature hovered around 21°C until the sun went down. Without the sun heating the city, the lake breeze stopped, and temperatures rose. Sitting at Wrigley Field last night, I had my sweater on in the first two innings and was down to a T-shirt by the 6th.

Today's forecast calls for rapidly dropping temperatures bottoming out around 14°C by 4pm.

Welcome to 400 ppm CO2, folks. With more energy in the atmosphere, continental climates like the Midwest U.S. will have these violent temperature changes pretty normally from now on.

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