Paul Homewood ranks the data from NOAA/NCDC in a pragmatic way, and comes up with this graph.
An Alternative Look
We often hear today’s climate described as “post-normal”, but what was so normal about climate 50 or 100 years ago? The bottom line is that the climate of the last couple of decades or so is what we have all lived through, and adapted to. Bearing this fact in mind, and putting more emphasis on what most people would regard as extreme weather, I have come up with my own index, based on:-
- Cold temperatures in winter – the colder it is, the more “extreme”.
- Hot temperatures in summer – the hotter it is, the more “extreme”. (I appreciate Minnesota might like a warmer summer, but I have to draw the line somewhere!)
- Annual precipitation variation, compared with the 1981-2010 mean, (both higher and lower).
- Tropical storms/hurricanes, as calculated in NOAA’s index.
Rather than using the “percent of area affected” system that NOAA have adopted. I have chosen a ranking system. Each year since 1910 is given a ranking for each category, with “1” being the least extreme, and “103” most extreme. The four individual rankings are then averaged together, to give the overall ranking.
The results are shown in Figure 8. (above)
2012 finishes with a ranking of 54, making it an unremarkable 46th most extreme, out of 103. The individual rankings are:-
|Winter Mean Temperature||3|
|Summer Mean Temperature||101|
Under my ranking system, the worst years for extreme weather were:-
|1936||2nd coldest winter, as well as 4th hottest summer and drought.|
|1933||5th worst for hurricanes, hot summer, dry.|
|1910||4th coldest winter, driest year on record.|
|1988||8th driest year, 9th hottest summer|
|1955||Cold winter, very dry, hurricanes.|
|1918||7th coldest winter, dry|
My system does have one drawback – based on national data, regional variations could be missed. For instance, a wet East Coast could cancel out a dry West Coast! However, I think it is fair to say, that in 2012 the warm and dry weather was pretty well distributed.
See his full post here.