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truffler1635 at my-deja.com
Sat Apr 22 12:30:06 EST 2000
>From The Oregonian, April 19, 2000, pA22
FIRST QUARTER IS THE WARMEST ON RECORD IN U.S.
The average temperature is 41.7 degrees, one degree higher than the
previous record set in 1990
By CURT SUPLEE, LA Times-Washington Post Service
The first quarter of this year was the warmest such three-month
period in the United States during the past 106 years of record-keeping,
federal officials announced Tuesday.
Average temperature during January, February and March was 41.7
degrees Fahrenheit, one degree higher than the previous first-quarter
record set in 1990, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
In addition, the agency's data show, the nine-month period from June
1999 to March 2000 was the hottest similar interval on record.
"Our climate is warming at a faster rate than ever before recorded,"
agency Administrator D. James Baker told a new conference in New
At the event, James Lee Witt, director of the Federal Emergency
Management Agency, said that there were 460 large disasters declared by
the federal government during the 1990s, compared to 237 during the
"There is no doubt that the human and financial costs of weather-
related disasters have been increasing in recent years," Witt said.
Nearly all of that increase, however, is due to changes in the way
people live, and not to substantial alterations in the weather.
"We have a society that is more sensitive than it has ever been in
the past to weather," Baker said in an interview prior to the New
Orleans announcement. "We are expending more and more every year for
damages to more expensive infrastructure," he said, owing to a "doubling
of population living near the coast during the past 10 years. Every big
storm costs us a lot more money."
Each year, more Americans flock to coastal regions and riverside
areas that are historically prone to storm damage. Considerable
construction now occurs in places that traditionally witnessed only
sparse or sporadic development.
As a result, damages from floods, hurricanes and the like are apt to
be more widespread and expensive every year.
But climate scientists have seen no trend involving an increase in
the number or severity of hurricanes, tornadoes, big floods or wind
Apparently this is not only the case in the United States, but
worldwide as well. Many experts have warned for years that increased
warming of the air at the Earth's surface could lead to a dramatic rise
in the frequency and intensity of catastrophic weather events. So far,
that has not occurred.
What the NOAA data show, Baker said, is that the amount of
precipitation in the largest storm systems has been growing. that is the
outcome one might expect if gradual global warming evaporated greater
quantities of water into the atmosphere.
"What we're seeing is that, in stronger storms, the amount of
rainfall per storm has been increasing, up about 10 percent" in recent
decades, Baker said. "That's the only real measure we have at this point
for increased intensity of extreme events. However, we are also seeing a
slight increase in the number of heat waves and in the number of days in
a row when nighttime temperatures set records."
During the first three months of 2000, every state in the
continental United States was warmer than average, with Oklahoma, Iowa
and Wisconsin setting records for the January-to-March period.
This year's winter warmth is likely to exacerbate the drought
conditions that persisted in many parts of the United States during 1998
and 1999, produced in large part by La Nina conditions.
La Nina, the opposite of El Nino, occurs when cooler than average
sea water accumulates in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Typically it
causes winter temperatures that are higher than average in the
Southeast, and lower than normal in the Northwest.
"We're witnessing very typical warm and dry conditions" in the
middle of the country and in the southern-tier states, Baker said,
"along with a wet Pacific Northwest. So there are really two-things in
the current pattern - the underlying warming trend plus the overlay of
La Nina conditions."
That situation, Baker said, is likely to continue for another three
to six months. During that period, southern-tier states from Arizona to
Florida will be at increased risk of drought, along with parts of
Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.
Posterd as a courtesy by
Daniel B. Wheeler
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