December in Houston may be even hotter than what climate change is predicting – Houston Chronicle
It’s beginning to look a lot like… the warmest Houston December on record.
Average temperatures measured at Bush Intercontinental Airport over the first 20 days of the month were the warmest since the National Weather Service began keeping records around 1889, local meteorologist Jimmy Fowler said.
And the coming days are looking toasty, too, with highs of 79 and 80 forecast for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, respectively.
The whole month offers a reminder of the warmer, weirder weather climate change is expected to bring. Average temperatures are predicted to continue to get hotter, and extreme high temperatures are predicted to continue to get higher.
“With climate change, we are experiencing on average not only warmer temperatures but also extremes of temperatures,” Fowler said, “and so we will get these periods where we get into these abnormally, extremely high temperatures.”
But this December weather is proving even warmer than the most dire climate predictions on average , said John Nielsen-Gammon, the state climatologist. The amount which it’s been warmer than normal here is on track to beat any other month.
Normal daily average temperatures for this month, which are calculated based on data from the past three decades, range from 58 to 55 degrees. On several days this December, averages have been more than 20 degrees above that.
The daily average measured at IAH for the whole month, based on the current forecast, may turn out to be about 12 degrees above normal, Nielsen-Gammon said. Currently, the warmest December on record is 1933, when the average temperature was 64.4 degrees, or 9 degrees above normal.
“It’s going to be a warm Christmas,” Nielsen-Gammon said.
There are some meteorological explanations for this, and some randomness to it, experts said. But human-driven climate change, spurred by the burning of fossil fuels, is certainly contributing some to this month’s warmth. Average temperatures have already heated up compared to a century ago, bringing consequences with it.
Surface ocean temperatures have also been abnormally hot, another trend expected as the globe warms.
“It’s been a weird, weird month,” said Matt Lanza, meteorologist with Space City Weather.
Lanza hadn’t forgotten the day early on this December, when the maximum temperature hit 87 at Hobby Airport, a harbinger of what was ahead. Record high temperatures continued to be broken. Other parts of the region and state also experienced warmer-than-normal weather.
Across the country, headlines told of other strange weather, including high winds in the Colorado Rockies and deadly tornadoes in the midwest.
In Houston, the weather seemed locked into a warm pattern, Lanza said. No one should be waking up Christmas morning expecting snow. Or ugly sweater weather. Or hot chocolate drinking temps.
“Forget milk and cookies…” the local weather service office advised on Twitter, “leave ice water and orange slices for Santa Claus this year!”