Energy Musings contains articles and analyses dealing with important issues and developments within the energy industry, including historical perspective, with potentially significant implications for executives planning their companies’ future.
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September 5, 2023
Weather Versus Climate Change
This summer has been dominated by news of record-setting heat waves. Houston, our home, was prominently featured in those record heat stories. In Rhode Island, the state set a record – fourth year in history ‒ without a 90-degree temperature during June, July, and August! When we started looking at how temperatures in Houston, Rhode Island, and nationwide compared with history, we found some interesting surprises. The biggest being was this past winter when temperature records were being broken in Houston and Rhode Island. READ MORE
Weather Versus Climate Change
Climate change is a hot topic (pardon the pun), and not just because much of the country has been living under a heat dome. We have avoided the worst of the nation’s heat waves by spending the summer at our vacation home in Rhode Island. Last week, The Providence Journal posted a headline saying that there had not been any 90-degree temperatures registered officially during June, July, and August at the state’s weather station at T.F. Green Airport in Providence. Wow! We knew it had been a cool summer here, but we were unaware of just how cool it was. The Providence Journal article pointed out that since 1905, only three other years did temperatures fail to reach 90 degrees: 1962, 1951, and 1932.
A local meteorologist said that while the chances of 90-degree temperatures in September are low, the month averages about one 90-degree day. The rarity was September 1983 which experienced nine 90-degree days. The current weather forecast for this week is targeting temperatures to reach 90 degrees for one day before a cooling trend moves in sending temperatures down about 8-10 degrees on average.
All summer, the media reported how these U.S. heat waves were unprecedented. Yes, we had record temperatures in places, but history shows that they were not as pervasive as reported. But for a media intent on accentuating the worst of the weather and trying to link it to climate change, it was not hard for reporters to find one-off episodes of how much people’s lives were impacted by hot temperatures.
Our home in Houston experienced significant heat this summer along with a lack of rainfall. The latter became serious enough that the City of Houston instituted a watering ban in late August, something we don’t remember happening for many years. Population and business growth in Houston and Texas are putting increased pressure on local water systems. In the Houston area, the gumbo soil is sensitive to moisture content, so movement associated with drier conditions can cause water mains to leak or break resulting in thousands of gallons of water being lost. More money and workers will be needed to address this problem. And more rain would help.
But heat is our focus. A chart from the Houston Chronicle showed the number of 100-degree days in Houston by year. Through September 3, there have been 41 days of century temperatures. That total still trails 2011’s record of 46 days of triple-digit temperature days. Will 2023 catch 2011?
Exhibit 1. Houston’s 100-degree Days First Record Summer Was In 1902