MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This weekend, temperatures are expected to soar back into the 90s. Minnesota averages 13 90-degree-plus days each year, and this year, the state is already at 12. It was the second hottest June in Minnesota on record.
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“There’s never really one reason for these extreme events,” says Mike Augustyniak, WCCO’s director of meteorology.
He points to a weather pattern that brought in a persistent flow of air from the south and southwest much earlier than normal. Then, add in an unusually sunny June and drought conditions that could have bumped up temperatures a few degrees.
“Dry ground is always easier to heat than wet ground,” Augustyniak said. “I think the drought is probably the biggest contributing factor to why this has been such a hot summer, but the drought itself is tied to climate change.”
Still, Augustyniak says it’s hard to draw conclusions between Minnesota’s warm June and climate change directly because there just isn’t enough data.
Minnesota DNR Senior Climatologist Kenny Blumenfeld agrees, saying when climatologists try to determine whether events can be tied to climate change, they look at whether this has ever happened before and are events like this becoming more common.
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“The more extreme the case is the easier it is to point to climate change as the cause,” says Augustyniak, pointing out the record-breaking temperatures in the Pacific Northwest. In late June, Portland hit 116 degrees, setting record-high temperatures for three days in a row.
“These temperatures are unbelievable even for a meteorologist,” Jeff Berardelli, CBS News meteorologist and climate specialist told CBS This Morning.
Augustyniak says that when the average temperature overall increases – even slightly – more extreme heat becomes exponentially possible.
Minnesota hasn’t been averaging more 90-degree-plus days yet, but Blumenfeld says the state is seeing them earlier and later in the season.
“That would make it easier to have more 90-degree readings,” he said.
According to NOAA predictions, Minnesota should expect double to triple the number of above-90 degree days by mid-century.
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