June abnormally hot locally and globally

Published 12:13 pm Saturday, July 16, 2022

By Skip Rigney

The average temperature on planet Earth last month was the sixth warmest in 143 years of records, according to statistics released Thursday by the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in their climate reports for June 2022.

The heat was on, not just globally, but locally as well. Pearl River County was much warmer than normal compared to the average June temperature calculated for the 127-year period from 1895 through 2022.

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Nearby areas had an even more extreme June. The three coastal counties of Mississippi as well as St. Tammany and Washington Parishes in Louisiana joined a number of other counties across coastal Alabama, southeast Louisiana and south Texas in experiencing their hottest June on record. This region, along with a couple of counties in California, was the most abnormally warm in the contiguous U.S. last month.

Helping push the June average into record and near-record territory in the region were several days during the period June 18-25 when daily high temperatures flirted with and in some cases exceeded 100 degrees across south Mississippi and southeast Louisiana.

Also contributing to the hotter-than-normal June averages, including in Pearl River County and the surrounding region, were abnormally warm nights and early mornings. For example, the daily low temperature at the Slidell Airport was at least one degree warmer-than-average 25 out of the 30 days last month.

Things were unusually toasty on a global scale as well. The only large region on Earth where the average temperature for June 2022 was cooler-than-normal was the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean as the climate pattern known as La Niña continued for a seventh month.

The amount of sea ice, which is ice floating in the polar oceans, reached its second lowest coverage last month in the 45 years that it has been monitored using satellites. That reflects not just a warmer-than-average June but several decades of polar warming that has slowly melted both the horizontal extent and thickness of the ice.

Over the past half-century the Arctic has warmed twice as fast as the rest of the globe according to last year’s annual Arctic Report Card from NOAA. In 2020 a team of polar researchers published a study showing that at the other end of the globe, Antarctica has warmed even faster over the past three decades, three times the global average.

While those data certainly line up with the hypothesis that the climate is in a period of long-term warming, whatever the cause or causes may be, temperatures across the first half of July across the Gulf South have retreated from June’s scorching levels to more typical territory on the thermometer’s scale. Precipitation in Pearl River County has been, as is typical for July, spotty with some locales running slightly above-normal rainfall totals for the month thus far, while others have been slightly drier-than-average.

Forecasters predict that our daily high temperatures during the upcoming week will be very near the historical averages for mid-July, which are in the low 90s. Daily minimum temperatures in the middle 70s will continue to run a few degrees above the historical averages, which are in the lower 70s.

Also matching the climatological normal pattern, will be the usual chance of summer thundershowers especially in the afternoons and early evenings.