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Scorching, scorching, gone

30 Aug 2023 | OP ED Watch

A particularly comic example of seeing what you expect to see on climate came from (again) Britain’s GB News courtesy of an alert reader. An August 1 story shrieked that “UK weather forecast: Scorching Azores plume to trigger 32C heatwave in Britain as maps turn red” as if maps turning red were evidence of anything other than the capture of TV meteorology by zealots. Only the zealotry was premature. By August 3 it was “UK weather forecast: Scorching Azores plume to trigger 28C heatwave in Britain as maps turn red”. Oh come now. Even in Britain 28C is not “scorching” and as we have noted, in previous decades would have been described as “fine and dry weather.” But yes, the map turned red. And by August 7 it was “UK weather forecast: Exact date heatwave to bake Britain as scorching African plume hits” with, brace yourselves, “highs of 26C expected in some southern areas” and just possibly 30C in London and a few other spots. Another week and the scorching plume might be bringing snow.

What was really going on is that Britain was having a cool summer, to the point that “Stoke on Trent Live” (yes someone sent us that link) went heatstroke on Trent with the ludicrous headline “Scorching 25C sun to bake Stoke-on-Trent THIS WEEK as summer washout finally ends”. Then threw in the towel with a picture of a pretty girl sunbathing and the comment that “The best of sunshine will most likely be found in central and eastern parts of the country. Unfortunately for those in the west and southwestern areas of the country, conditions are expected to be cloudier and wet.” See, 25C is nice, not scorching.

For more covering what you expect to see, before it happens to be on the safe side in case it never does, consider also NBC’s “news” story that:

“The combination of extreme high temperatures and poor air quality from Canadian wildfires and other sources of air pollution may become a major contributor to illness and early death in the United States, experts warn.”

May. Not has. Not is. May. Like the WMO announcing that July will have been determined to be the hottest month ever recorded before rather than after checking. And thinking “ever recorded” is covered by “estimates of temperature across the earth that date back decades” instead of measurements that date back to before the journalist was born or some even more unimaginably remote era. For instance the Edwardian, when Tony Heller notes 1911 “brought the hottest temperature ever recorded to New England, and a 70 day heatwave which killed 40,000 people in France.”

Even NBC was hedging its bets, saying “As Phoenix hits 30 days over 110, expected monsoon rains could help cool the Southwest”. But of course in climate all news is bad, so “While the wet weather may offer some temperature relief it could also bring damaging winds, blowing dust and the chance of flash flooding, the National Weather Service warned.”

And then by July 31, it conceded that “Intense summer heat relaxes for some”. But of course “parts of the South continue to bake” and “Despite heat relief for some, July will likely end up as the hottest in history.” You just can’t win.

5 comments on “Scorching, scorching, gone”

  1. We all wish that every day was a day from those memorable times of our youth or maybe from a Hallmark movie where snow falls on trees and rooftops. But we are scolded that was just weather. A favorite line comes from the July 24, 1905 Morning Oregonian "Whenever an unusually hot season is upon us, sweltering humanity talks about changes in climate and shakes its head in forboding fashion."

  2. What is or is not a heatwave does rather depend on where you are on the Earth's surface. Growing up in London where it seemed to rain all the time, summer attire meant that you carried a coat over your arm in case in case it rained rather than actually wearing it. By that standard, yep, 28C would be a heatwave. Then again, 5C would be a heatwave in Antarctica.

  3. 25C or 77F is certainly no heatwave,even in UK.Many people are not interested in the beach or swimming at that temperature.

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