From Shaman’s Rock
By Jim Poling Sr.
So here comes the heat. And, the heavy rains, big thunderstorms and the wild winds that accompany them.
That’s what the professional forecasters are telling us. Their climate models suggest that the world average temperature could reach a record high this year.
Last year was the world’s fifth warmest year on record, they say, and this summer could see even hotter temperatures.
That might seem like good news to Ontarians who have just been through the gloomiest several months in more than 80 years. Clouded skies, rain, sleet and snow were the main weather features most days from December through April.
Now the world weather pattern is changing from La Niña to El Niño, the naturally occurring phenomena that cool or warm the central Pacific Ocean surfaces. La Niña is a cooling phase, and El Niño is a warming phase.
Both develop over the tropical Pacific Ocean region, altering weather patterns in various parts of the world. El Niño could dramatically impact Canadian weather this summer, depending on when it fully develops.
If El Niño fully matures within the next three months Canada could see a cooler-than-normal summer, some climatologists say. However, if it takes hold later we’ll see hotter temperatures and more rainfall in the back half of this year, and into 2024.
It already has a good start. By the end of March surface waters of the tropical Pacific had reached an average 21 Celsius for the first time on record. The temperature reached 21.1C in the first five days of April, surpassing the previous record of 20.0C set in March 2016.
El Niño occurs every two to seven years. The most recent ones were in 2018-2019 and 2014-2016. That latter resulted in 2016 being recorded as the world’s hottest year on record.
“If El Niño does develop, there is a good chance 2023 will be even hotter than 2016 . . .” British climatologist Friederike Otto told the media recently.
The climate forecasters are uncertain about when El Niño will appear and therefore exactly what it will have in store for us.
One month ago the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a watch saying El Niño likely will develop over the next six months. It is expected to release an update within the next day or two.
Whatever El Niño has planned for us this year and next there is no question that our world is getter hotter. The world’s average global temperature now is 1.2C higher than in pre-industrial times.
Last year Europe experienced its hottest summer on record, while climate change-fuelled extreme rain caused disastrous flooding in Pakistan, and in February, Antarctic sea ice levels hit a record low.
According to The Farmers’ Almanac, last summer was the third warmest in Canada’s history. The summers of 2021 and 1998 were hotter. And, last year’s heat stayed around longer, giving us an unusually warm autumn and milder than usual winter.
The Farmers’ Almanac is predicting a sizzling summer with daily highs in the 30s Celsius and “feels like” temperatures of 40C when factoring in heavy humidity. It also is predicting bouts of showery weather and thunderstorms with heavy precipitation.
The average July daily high for the Haliburton region is 19.7C or 67.5 Fahrenheit. The most rain comes in June with an average of 105 millimeters, or 4.1 inches, for the month.
For those who might be wondering, there are two farmers’ almanacs. One is The Old Farmer’s Almanac established in 1792 and The Farmers’ Almanac established in 1818. Both make weather predictions a year or more in advance and both claim accuracy rates of 80-plus percent.
We’ll have to wait to see how accurate the NOAA and various almanac predictions are for the summer ahead. Whatever we get will be better than the sunlight deprived days of the last few months. Any significant amount of sun would be much appreciated.
So far, May gives us a glimmer of hope. This past week has been a sunny one with daytime temperatures in the Celsius teens and low 20s.
The bugs certainly are enjoying it.