Understanding Extreme Weather in a Changing Climate

ClimaMeter is an experimental rapid framework for understanding extreme weather events in a changing climate based on looking at similar past weather situations. Find out more here and follow us on X

Western US deadly heatwave mostly exacerbated by Climate Change and up to +4C warmer

In July 2024, the western US experienced a potentially historic heatwave. From July 5th to July 7th, some parts of the western US experienced temperatures in excess of 120°F (~48.9°C), with Death Valley reaching 129°F (53.9~°C) on Sunday 7th of July, that left a motorcyclist dead and another severely ill due to heat exposure. The temperature reached in Death Valley was just shy of the 1913 all-time record of 134°F (~56.7°C), and the possibly more reliable all-time record obtained with modern measurements of 130°F (~54.4°C), and mirrors several other extremely high temperatures in Oregon, California, Nevada and Arizona, with certain cities reaching record-high or notable temperatures for the period. 

ClimaMeter found that heatwaves akin to those that hit the western US are up to +4°C more intense than the previous heatwaves recorded in the region, with temperature anomalies reaching +10°C. ClimaMeter scientists have determined that human-induced climate change exacerbated these extreme temperatures, with natural climate variability playing a minor role.

Image Source: Bing-Create for ClimaMeter

Hurricane-force winds and heavy precipitation in Hurricane Beryl strengthened up to 30% by climate change

On July 03, Hurricane Beryl's, the strongest hurricane in the Caribbean for this time of the year since at least 1850, was also the first hurricane of the 2024 Atlantic season, rapidly intensified to a Category 5 storm unusually early in the year. The hurricane left scattered debris along the waterfront of Carriacou, Grenada, and led to the closure of Jamaica's main airports. 

ClimaMeter found that cyclones near Jamaica similar to Hurricane Beryl are up to  30 mm/day (up to 30%) wetter and up to 9 km/h (up to 10%)  windier in the present than they have been in the past. We find no effect of El Niño southern oscillation, but note that natural variability from the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation may have influenced the event, alongside human-driven climate change.

Image:  Satellite image of a Category 5 Hurricane Beryl on July 2. Photo: CIRA/RAMMB

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