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Heat wave rolls through the U.S., toppling records

June 28, 2012|By Michael Muskal
  • Cruz Martinez feels the heat as he joins workers from Southwest Construction Services replacing spacing in new curbs and sidewalks in west Fort Worth, Texas.
Cruz Martinez feels the heat as he joins workers from Southwest Construction… (Joyce Marshall / Fort Worth…)

If you think “Heat Wave,” is just a song, odds are that you’ve been living in an air-conditioned bubble during the past week or so.

According to records kept by the National Climatic Data Center, part of the federal government, the United States has been sweltering through a wave of high temperatures that has hampered fighting wildfires and growing crops. And summer is just days old -- at least according to the calendar.

“One of the things that sticks out,” said Jake Crouch, a climate scientist with the agency, “is that we had had 41 all-time records broken or tied so far in June. This has been a really warm year, a record-breaking year.”

According to the agency’s data, 41 records have fallen or been tied in the past seven days, and the same number in the past 30 days. Over the past 365 days, 233 all-time records have fallen.

The numbers are equally impressive when it comes to just daily records. On Wednesday, 196 daily high temperature records were topped, increasing the past seven days’ worth of records to 1,133.  When looking at the past 30 days, the number of broken daily records climbs to 2,359 and -- like mercury breaking through the top of a thermometer -- hits 34,294 over the past 365 days.

According to Crouch, the records have been falling for months, especially because March was an especially warm month.

While the warmer-than-expected weather had some positive effects, such as lowering energy expenditures for heating in the East, it also brought  problems. Hiring got a boost earlier in the year, but was less robust in recent months; employers, in essence, filled jobs in the winter that they would have filled in the spring.

Further, farmers are now struggling to save crops that are crisping in the fields, and consumers ultimately will face higher food prices.

In the West, the record temperatures have conspired with low humidity to turn vegetation into tinder. Colorado has been especially hard hit by wildfires, which have caused an active early burn season in several Western states.

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Join Michael on Google+. Email: michael.muskal@latimes.com

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