Hot, wet, weird year — all across the country.
Rim Country enjoyed one of its wettest monsoons on record, although the forecast calls for things to dry out for the rest of the week — with highs around 80.
The remnants of a hurricane that flooded Tucson over the holiday weekend largely missed Payson. The rainfall hit some areas hard and missed nearby areas completely. For instance, on Friday Tonto Creek had 234 times its normal flow as it entered Roosevelt Lake. However, the Salt River at the other end of the same lake had just 37 percent of its normal flow, according to the Salt River Project’s daily water report.
Roosevelt Lake, the main water storage system for Phoenix, was just 47 percent full — up from about 40 percent when the monsoon started.
After today, the forecast calls for clear skies and highs around 80 in Payson on through the weekend, with the official end of summer looming on Sept. 21.
However, the weather remains far from normal all across the country, which many climate scientists attribute to the inexorably mounting effects of the buildup of heat-trapping pollutants in the atmosphere.
We just finished the warmest July in 136 years of record-keeping, according to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. That means July was also the warmest single month in recorded history worldwide. The previous hottest Julys came in 2015, 2011 and 2009.
In fact, each of the past 10 months have set planetary records, according to NASA — with the Northern Hemisphere setting the most high marks.
June set records as the hottest June on record in the continental United States. The temperature averaged 71.8 degrees, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That beat the next two warmest average temperatures — 71.56 degrees in 1933 and 71.4 degrees in 2015.
So far this year, heat records have outpaced cold records by a four-to-one margin.
The summer of 2016 ranked as the 24th wettest summer on record, with some states setting all-time records. The West remained relatively dry, although Arizona had a wet monsoon. The sharp shifts in the weather conform to the predictions for the destabilizing effort of the buildup of energy in the form of heat in the atmosphere and the ocean.
The summer of 2016 set all-time heat records in 45 U.S. cities, according to the National Weather Service. Another 53 cities came close to a record, mostly in the East. However, in the West, Anchorage, Alaska, Las Vegas, Nev. and Palm Springs, Calif. all had record-hot summers, with the highest temperatures coming later in the summer than normal.
Climate scientists largely agree that the buildup of heat-trapping pollutants will lead to a steady rise in average temperatures, but the localized effects of the increase remain unpredictable. Some models suggest the shift could dry up the vital monsoon season in the Southwest. Other models suggest the monsoon could become more violent and unpredictable — drying up in some years and causing flooding in other years.
One study published recently in Nature Climate Change predicted more extreme-rainfall events as a result of the projected warming. The researchers predicted that extreme precipitation will increase by 1 to 2 percent every decade in dry regions like the Southwest, based on 60 years of measurements from 11,000 weather stations throughout the world.
NASA reports that the 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since 2000, with the exception of 1998. The average global temperature as an annual average has risen by several degrees since 1968. Sea level has risen by about 87 millimeters since 1995.