In early August of the summer of 2011, scorching heat continues to smash records in many parts of the country. In Austin, Texas, triple-digit temperatures are causing unprecedented demands on power grids. Oklahoma City is on track to eclipse the number of 100-degree days in a year, creeping closer to the record number of 50. And these high temperatures only make existing drought conditions worse.
The suffocating heat comes on the heels of the government’s release of the climate “normals.” Every 10 years, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calculate the averages for temperature and precipitation from thousands of U.S. locations. These new normals not only provide a glimpse of what’s happening with the climate, but also serve as indicators of how a changing climate may affect everything from energy bills to crops to insurance premiums.
As Dr. Heidi Cullen reports, one city in the Mid-Atlantic already is taking the new normals into consideration as it plans for weather extremes.