Typical local weather contrasts with global events

Published 7:00 am Saturday, July 24, 2021

By Skip Rigney

After seemingly endless weeks of multiple showers every day, locally we have finally settled into a more typical summer weather pattern. There will still be a chance of rain most days, but overall, fewer showers in the upcoming week means that south Mississippians have improving odds of being able to mow their lawns.

But, don’t get carried away with strenuous outdoor exercise. Fewer showers also means hotter afternoon temperatures, with highs predicted to reach the lower to middle 90s. Combined with continued muggy levels of humidity, the heat index (sometimes called the “feels like temperature”) will exceed 100 degrees most days.

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In other words, the weather will be typical for late July in south Mississippi. So, instead of focusing on local weather this week, let’s look around the world, where there have been numerous unusual weather events.

Even though we’ve had some heavy downpours lately, they were nothing compared to what happened in Zhengzhou, China, a few days ago. Zhengzhou may be the biggest city I had never heard of until it made news earlier this week. Over 10 million people live in Zhengzhou, which is located in east-central China. Over 25 inches fell in just 24 hours in Zhengzhou on Tuesday. That’s more than they usually get in a year. The resulting floods killed 33 people according to the Associated Press.

Last week over 200 people died in Germany and Belgium as six to twelve inches of rain over two days produced historic flooding. Those might not sound like particularly heavy amounts to those of us on the Gulf Coast, but it is very unusual for those areas in Europe. Additionally, the rain fell on ground that was already saturated.

Heavy rain and flooding aren’t often threats in the states of Arizona and New Mexico. However, this is the time of year that those arid states get most of their annual rainfall from the summer monsoon. Flash flood watches have been in effect there for the last few days as monsoon thunderstorms bubble up each afternoon.

While some have too much rain, others don’t have enough. Drought and abnormally hot temperatures in the western United States and southwestern Canada have fueled wildfires in those regions for the last several weeks, making for a very active start to their fire season. This past week, smoke from wildfires blew thousands of miles eastward, causing hazy conditions and poor air quality in cities such as Washington, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston.

Even in Siberia, a place we usually associate with frigid winter weather, record-breaking hot temperatures worsened wildfires this week. Millions of acres of Siberian forest have already burned this summer, making this one of their worst wildfire seasons on record.

Of course it’s not hot everywhere. It’s winter in the southern hemisphere, and a cold Antarctic blast hit South America earlier this week, pushing much farther northward toward the equator than usual. Frost and temperatures 30 degrees-below-normal hit parts of southern and central Brazil that seldom see such conditions. Early reports indicate that damage to Brazil’s coffee crops could be severe, and commodity coffee prices quickly headed upward.

What’s been going on elsewhere makes our forecast of hot and humid with a chance of afternoon showers sound blessedly boring.