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Climate Skeptics on Record Heat: Have a Nice Big Slice of Cherry Pie

By Tom Yulsman

With astonishingly high temperatures for this time of year persisting over the Central and Eastern United States — including nighttime “low” temperatures that exceed the normal highs — it’s only natural to wonder what role climate change might be playing.

As Andrew Freedman of Climate Central put it Tuesday:

“In a long-term trend that has been found to be inconsistent with natural variability alone, daily record-high temperatures have recently been outpacing daily record-lows by an average of 2-to-1, and this imbalance is expected to grow as the climate continues to warm. According to a 2009 study, if the climate were not warming, this ratio would be expected to be even.”

Of course, it shouldn’t be any surprise that the blogosphere has lit up with denials that any such link between the record-breaking warmth and climate change exists. And in one very narrow sense, they’re right. That’s because the immediate cause is a huge north-to-south kink in the normally west-to-east flowing jet stream. This kink in turn has caused a large ridge of high pressure to become stuck over the Midwest and East, bringing unprecedented warmth.

The weather pattern responsible for the heatwave in the Midwest and Eastern U.S. (Credit/National Weather Service)

As Jeff Masters, a meteorologist with Wunderground.com, reports in his blog, northern Michigan has recorded temperatures in the 80s — about 40 degrees above average for this time of year. International Falls Minnesota, sometimes called the “Nation’s Icebox,” has experienced unheard of temperatures pushing 80 degrees during the day, and lows that have failed to dip below 60 at night.

A balmy March evening in northern Minnesota? Really?

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