The Mountain West's alarming September heat shatters records in Utah, Nevada
It’s been hot in the Mountain West — so hot that parts of the region broke September records, new data shows.
The National Centers for Environmental Information released its national climate report for September, indicating that the month's national average temperature was 68.1 degrees Fahrenheit – the fifth warmest September in the 128-year record.
Nevada and Utah experienced their hottest September ever recorded. Both states set records that were nearly one degree Fahrenheit above their previous records.
“That may not sound like a huge difference, [but] we haven't seen that recently in the past where the record value is almost a degree Fahrenheit warmer than the previous highest value,” said Dan McEvoy, a climatologist with the Western Regional Climate Center. “So this was very anomalous.”
McEvoy lives in Reno. He said temperatures around this time of year usually reach the upper 80s. This September, the first eight days of the month were all above 100 degrees. On the 6th, the Reno airport recorded 106 degrees — the second-highest temperature in t he a rea eve r rec orded .
“[I] can't emphasize enough how unusual it is to see those extreme values so late in the year,” McEvoy said.
The data also shows that Arizona, Idaho and Wyoming had their second-warmest Septembers, with Colorado following right behind. New Mexico saw its fifth-warmest September.
One of the main causes was a heat wave that hit the West around Labor Day. Almost 1,000 heat records were broken across the region on Sept. 9.
“What was pretty interesting about this event is that it wasn't really isolated to one state or a small area,” McEvoy said. “This was a really big, widespread heat wave that really engulfed the entire Western U.S., which is somewhat rare to have that large of a scale of heat wave.”
The whole country saw scant precipitation during the month, with a total s reac hing onl y 1.83 inches. That's 0.66 inches below average for September.
McEvoy said that this warming trend isn't going away.
“Be prepared for more hot years like this as we move forward,” McEvoy said. “And while it may seem extreme right now, we could certainly see something similar or more extreme moving forward.”
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
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