While the “hot hail spots” of North America are still in their height of hail season, some Americans have been experiencing records of another type: heat. Furthermore, June 2021 is now tied with June 2018 as the fourth warmest June on record globally.
According to data from last month, June 2021 was the warmest June on record for the continent, with the Pacific Northwest taking the brunt of the temperature anomalies. In fact, what was happening in the Northwest is rarer than a once in a 1,000-year event. This is leaving many asking how this so-called “heat dome” could have occurred in a region that typically has a moderate to cool climate.
A heat dome is when the jet stream of a mountain of warm air becomes very wavy and elongated, and its pressure system pinches off and becomes stalled in a place it would not normally be found. The heat dome in the Northwest was acting like a block in the atmosphere, not allowing any new weather to move.
With rising temperatures around the globe, these types of phenomena may only increase. Before the heat dome occurred, computer models were forecasting the seemingly unbelievable temperatures, leaving many meteorologists in the PNW-area scratching their heads and wondering if the numbers could even be possible. As it turns out, the models were correct, and many are confirming that we can continue to expect extreme weather events, such as the one from June, to occur in the future.
Now, much of the West and Southwest are experiencing extreme heat and drought causing wildfires to become rampant. As of this writing, 12 states are currently experiencing large fires and the National Interagency Fire Center updated their national preparedness level to 5 (on a scale of 1-5). With a little over a month left of summer temps, it is vital that everyone remain vigilant when practicing fire safety and exercise caution during heat advisories.