We finally hit 90 degrees Friday — 92 to be exact in Keene — the first time we’ve surpassed it this year.
Add in some high humidity, and it’s pretty sticky out there. But it’s nothing compared to what’s happening in Europe. On Friday, France recorded its highest temperature ever when it soared to 114 degrees in some places, and well over 100 in most non-mountainous areas. That’s Phoenix-like scorching heat, in places that generally don’t have or need air conditioning. The four-day heat wave has also blanketed Spain, Italy, Germany and the Czech Republic.
It’s fascinating to read and hear what meteorologists are saying. Sure, weather aficionados are prone to hyperbole when it comes to extremes, and comments are running the gamut.
“Today is the hottest day in the history of France,” tweeted meteorologist Eric Holthaus, a Kansas native who is co-founder of a podcast named “Warm Regards.”
Then there is the simple, though more dramatic:
“Hell is coming,” tweeted Silvia Laplana of Spain last Sunday in reading the computer models for this week.
Finally, we get to the extreme though not untrue. Ruben Hallaili, a French meteorologist, noted that the projected temperature map resembled a human skull and tweeted, “France looks like a screaming heat skull of death.”
Of course, this weather phenomenon can be explained scientifically. An unusually large upper ridge set up across Europe, essentially pushing air down on the land mass. The wind is blowing in from the Sahara Desert in Africa — hot air — and it’s trapped under the dome of unusually high pressure. Normally, that hot air would rise into the upper atmosphere, cool and cycle back down, keeping land temperatures moderate.
Europe has experienced plenty of heat waves, just none as intense as this one. “There’s never been a high pressure system over Europe that matches the current one, in all the decades we’ve been keeping track,” Holthaus tweeted. “The atmosphere is different now.”
The elephant in the room is climate change — just how much is climate change affecting the atmosphere and driving these extreme weather events? Many climate change scientists are opining that heat waves like the one in Europe are exactly what they expected, a trend they predict will continue. Temperatures Saturday are forecast to reach the mid-90s in Paris, then cool to the 80s and 70s by next week.
Our own weather this weekend could get a bit dicey. A cold front moving in from the west will clash with the soupy air that’s been over us, setting up the risk of thundershowers, some possibly severe. The atmosphere is ripe, and watches and warnings could be issued from here all the way down to New Jersey. Rather than a straight line of storms, they will most likely pop up here and there, but predicting the exact here and there just isn’t possible.
Sunday will be unsettled with showers and thundershowers possible, though they shouldn’t be severe. Fingers crossed, as the entire week looks to be a summer pattern, with warm temperatures in the mid-80s and a chance of spot thunderstorms in the afternoons and evenings.