North Texas Climate Change? By Steve MacLaughlin

November 11, 2007 at 4:11 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

The following is not some Global Warming propaganda. This is actually a summary of some incredible North Texas weather statistics; but they have started to worry me. I simply want to raise questions and make connections, but recognize from the start that I don’t know everything nor do scientists. But we at least need to leave open the possibility that the climate is changing. North Texas is hot. It always has been. It’s always supposed to be. That is why it’s a great barometer for climate change. When we break heat records here, it means something rare and remarkable is occuring, but records are not out of the ordinary. When it happens month after month, year after year, it becomes a pattern that needs to be looked at more closely.

This year has been record-setting in so many different ways here in North Texas. The spring was a mess. More watches and warnings were issued than ever before with relentless storms and floods. Even tornadoes occured on several occassions in some of our very highly-populated areas around the metroplex.

Hail destroyed my windshield in April. I was in New Jersey, reporting on the massive, historical spring floods on the east coast at WeatherPlus out of MSNBC. Ironically, two days before, while I was in New Jersey, those storms were in North Texas and large hail pounded my car parked at DFW airport. I returned two weeks later to a lovely surprise. Why I didn’t spring for covered parking still perplexes and haunts me. Lesson learned.

This summer was on pace to be the wettest ever, nearly eclipsing the summer of 2004 which holds the record in North Texas. 18.89″ of rain fell that June, July and August.

And now…The heat!

Before we go on, I need to explain one important theory on climate change. The United States is vast and has so many different climates covering huge geographical stretches. Every part of America will feel climate change differently. Some worse than others. Some may barely be affected. Some have no idea yet how Global Warming may affect them and will learn in the coming years. Some have already seen droughts, floods or high temperatures that are the most dramatic on record.

For North Texas, there are two ways we might be affected, based on climate experts’ theories. The first is extremes. By that, we mean huge swings in the weather pattern. And we’re not talking about that daily swing that’s always been part of Texas’ history and character. We are talking about long-term shifts. Like, let’s say, the wettest summer ever followed by one of the worst eighteen-month droughts ever, followed by one of the stormiest and wettest years ever. Sound familiar? Again, just theory, but it’s making me a believer.

The other place where North Texas will see climate change is in the overnight low temperature. A change in moisture and weather pattern may not affect highs as much as that low temprature. It just doesn’t get as low. That means the next day starts a little warmer and the next night doesn’t cool down as much. It’s a viscious cycle that extends our heat waves and keeps your air conditioning running while you sleep later into the fall. That being said, please note how most of the records below have to do with average temperatures or low temperatures over time.

October 1st thru the 14th of 2007 was the hottest start to October ever. The average was 79.8 degrees; The average high over that two week stretch was 89.5 degrees, almost ten degrees above the normal high in the lower 80s. We also set a record for low temperatures with an incredible average of 70.1 degrees. Simply amazing.

I worked out a series of mathematical equations; simple arithmetic really. I took the average temperature, the average high and the average low from the first of each month thru yesterday for all the months in 2007. In other words, I worked out January 1st thru November 10th, then February 1st thru November 10th and so on. Each gave me three numbers: Average temperature, average high and average low. This was then compared to every other year on record in North Texas for the same period of time.

The results: The LOW temperature in 2007 for each period was either the hottest or second hottest ever. There were only two exceptions; one was the third hottest and one the fourth hottest. As far as overall average temperature, if you take August 1st thru yesterday, it is the hottest on record; September 1st thru yesterday, the second hottest.

Over the last 365 days, we are having the second warmest year ever based on overnight LOW temperatures with first place going to the same period of time in 1999-2000.

If you take November 11th thru November 10th (last 365 days) over the years, the hottest years ever based on overall average temperature are the following:
1) 1999-2000
2) 2005-2006
4) 1998-1999
5) 2004-2005
9) 1997-1998
14) 2006-2007

The warmest years (calendar) on record in North Texas still remain 2006, 1999 and 1998 in that order. In all fairness, you might think that mixed in with all those warm years were a few cold years that we are not mentioning. Of the top ten coldest years on record in North Texas, the most recent one was 1983. I was seven adorable years old. The coldest ever was 1899.

Again, the numbers don’t guarentee that all the Global Warming theories are correct, but they certainly make it difficult for me not to have a thirst and hunger to know more. Perhaps this decade is an anomoly, but if the next two or three years continue to show these trends, there will be no doubt that change is happening here in North Texas right in front of our eyes and our kids may live in a much different Texas.

Steve Mac



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  1. Good work, Steve, in providing interesting data on recent changes to the climate in north Texas.
    As I’m sure you are aware, temperature data from any single location does not prove the validity of global climate models; however, the data you are reporting may help to convince residents of the Dallas area based on their own realm of experience.
    Two other important conclusions that people need to clearly understand are: 1) Not only is warming occurring, but the rate is increasing , and 2) Human activities–especially relating to the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere–are having a strong impact on the rapid changes we are now seeing.
    Recently, I’ve spent a lot of time researching “Climate Change Denialism”. I can understand why you are so “careful” in how you present your data… Nevertheless, facts are facts, and we need to confront them.
    Climate Change Denialism depends on rejection of valid data, the promotion of invalid, disproved theories (such as cosmic rays, solar variation, etc.), and increasing politicization of the issues (It’s “us” versus “them”)
    The best way to combat Denialism is by persistently appealing to facts. This may not be enough, though. I’ve found that when facts conflict with ideology, people are more inclined to disbelieve the facts than to reconsider their ideology.
    Oh well. We must hope that despite this, truth eventually will prevail… hopefully soon! Thanks once again for your efforts.

  2. I’m sorry, but the Treedoctor has must have just finished the whole punchbowl of Al Gore’s Kool-Aid, and is another Heidi Cullen “climate change skeptic = holocaust skeptic” hate monger. There are a significant number scientists in the climate field who have serious scientific questions about climate change. The “politicization” Treedoctor talks about comes from scare tactics used by academia and government researchers to extract further grant money in their own self interests.

    No offense to the media either, but let’s face it, “sunny and 85 degrees tomorrow” is just not as good a ratings grabber as “Florida underwater in 100 years, film at 11.” Steve, I admire your curiosity on this topic, and appreciate you being open to both sides on this issue.

    I’ll throw this out for discussion – are there any climate models that can accurately track known climatoligcal history when initialized with a previous climate state?

  3. 1) Klystron’s “Kool-Aid” argument is invalid. I don’t drink Kool-Aid, and haven’t even seen Al Gore’s movie. When I began investigating the issue of Global Climate Change (GCC) I started out with a “skeptical” approach, as any reasonable scientist would do, but I’ve become persuaded by the weight of evidence that the conclusions of the IPCC and others are valid. Similarly, I have followed up on the most popular Denialist arguments, and have found that most turn out to be unsupportable. Of the Denialist arguments that can be supported, most are “red herrings” (e.g. climate has changed in the past without human influence), or “Straw Man arguments” (e.g. Klystron’s news story regarding “Florida under water in 100 years”). Nevertheless, the popular Denialist arguments “refuse to die”, and are raised again and again, even after they’ve been addressed.

    2) Al Gore—who happens to be a Democrat—has become a “bogey man” to many GCC Denialists. Just because Al Gore says something, however, doesn’t mean it’s not true. Nevertheless, many of his detractors seem to believe exactly the opposite. The motivation for this appears to me to be political, but I cannot cite any specific data to prove this. It’s simply based on my observation that a lot of the venom spewed against Mr. Gore is coming from people who already (believe that they) hate Democrats and “liberals”. This is where I see “politicization” of the climate change issue, not from imagined “scare tactics used by academia and government researchers”. Based on the criticisms and discussions I’ve read regarding “An Inconvenient Truth”, I’ve concluded that the science is basically valid. The errors in the movie are minor, and have been greatly exaggerated and or distorted in Denialist blogs. In any case, Gore does not claim that his movie is a substitute for “real” climate science, but provided a means of bringing this topic to the public eye. In any case, I don’t regard the reporting of scientific conclusions to be “scare tactics”. What I do find scary is that so many people are willing to believe that thousands of “academics” around the world would join together in an elaborate hoax; as is argued in so many Denialist blogs.

    3) I initially respected Denialists’ preference to be described as “skeptics”; however, I have concluded that this term is inaccurate and undeserved in all but a few cases. ALL good scientists are skeptics. In contrast, a denialist works backward from an “expected” conclusion, and is obliged to reject as invalid any data inconsistent with their conclusions, sometimes for preposterous reasons At the same time, denialists propose their own specious arguments (e.g. solar variability and cosmic rays) that cannot be supported. This is not good science. It is for THIS reason–and not a global “conspiracy”—that the technical literature overwhelmingly supports the basic conclusions of the IPCC. Nevertheless, denialists often contend that ALL of the published data has been willfully distorted by mercenary scientists interested only in stuffing their own pockets with grant money. Bias and financial self-interest is certainly a risk in science, yet how could a rational person believe in the existence of an international cabal involving so many individuals.
    Denialism has developed with regard to a number of issues, including the Holocaust, Darwinian evolution, and more recently climate change. In nearly all such cases, there is a strong “religious” or “political” component. (And thank you, Klystron, for providing evidence of this in your response.) I do not necessarily think that someone who is a denialist on one of these issues will be a denialist in all of them (and I don’t know who Heidi Cullen is). Nevertheless, although Klystron may not like it, there are many commonalities in the tactics used.

    4) It is a very common denialist argument that “there are (sic) a significant number of scientists in the climate field who have serious questions about climate change”. This statement is undoubedly true. (Congratulations, Klystron. You got something right!) However, Klystron seems to be implying is that there is a significant proportion who disagree with the principal conclusions of the IPCC and others. I have found no evidence to support this. For example, I attempted to verify similar claims made by notorious denialist Fred Singer that more than more than 50% of rank and file members of the American Meteorological Society question the AMS statement on climate change; however, I was able to find no evidence to support his allegations. At least one of Singer’s allegations was a lie (i.e. something he KNEW to be false when he said it.) It’s pretty sad affair to have to rely on someone like this as a prominent spokesperson.

    5) Finally, the predictive ability of climate models is limited, but they are increasingly accurate in explaining observed trends as well as in estimating the impact of changes in different parameters, such as CO2 content of the atmosphere. A full response to Klystron’s challenge would be very lengthy, but I encourage anyone who is SINCERELY interested in this topic to investigate it with an open mind. On the other hand, if you already “know” the answer before you begin, you will be wasting your time.

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