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2012 brings a year of weather records

Posted by Natalie Bishop on Jul 20, 2012
Tags: climate change news

Across the world, unusual weather patterns have been a hot topic of discussion (literally!). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that nearly all of Europe, Asia, northern Africa, most of North America, and southern Greenland experienced warmer than average monthly temperatures in May.

In the United States, headlines such as "Spring Temperatures Hit Records" and "Warmest Spring on Record in U.S." popped up incessantly in the news. According to the USA Today article "Warmest Spring Heats Up Economy," 31 states reported record temperature highs for spring (March through May). Compared to the average spring, this year was a remarkable five degrees Fahrenheit warmer! A recent look at the Drought Monitor reveals this: "Statistics... show 53.17 percent of the United States and Puerto Rico are in moderate drought or worse, compared with 50.92 percent a week ago." The heat is affecting various aspects of the economy from agriculture to tourism.

Environment

  • Pro: In Washington, D.C., cherry trees bloomed particularly early, while apple and peach trees blossomed two months early in the Midwest. Strawberry crops were also harvested extraordinarily early (2-3 weeks) in many parts of the United States.
  • Con: Hot temperatures also spurred early allergies, mosquitoes, ticks, and wildfires.

Jobs

  • Pro: About 50,000 jobs during January and February were added as a result of the warm winter, according to economists at Moody’s Analytics. Jobs that depend on the weather, such as construction and hospitality, were also brought back earlier than usual.
  • Con: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a natural disaster declaration for about 1,000 counties in 26 states (from California to Delaware!), which makes farm operators eligible for low interest emergency loans. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) crop production data, around 78 percent of U.S. corn is grown in a drought area.

Tourism

  • Pro: According to The Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report on the economy, the warm spring raised ticket sales on Broadway, boosted Florida tourism, and even improved restaurant sales in January and February due to the mild winter.
  • Con: Colorado Springs forced thousands to evacuate from campgrounds and hotels due to the seriousness of the wildfires.

Health

  • Pro: What life form could possibly benefit from intense heat and no water? The answer: weeds.
  • Con: The heat wave dangerously threatened the health of living creatures from farm animals to wildlife to people. The Guardian reported that eight deaths can be linked to the extreme heat across the country.

If you think this is the end of the heat wave, think again. The warm weather is expected to continue through the summer as the Climate Prediction Center predicts that about 75 percent of the country will see above-average temperatures from June to August. The USDA’s natural disaster declaration on July 11 brings to light the hardships much of the country is facing due to the dry, hot weather. It is the most widespread drought since 1988 in the U.S.

 

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