The Climate Lottery: Summer 2018 Contest

*The Climate Lottery is a forecast contest free to play by giving your picks in an e-mail. No prizes will be given out for the contest, which is for educational purposes only this time around. The special account that I have set up for the contest is guywalton10@gmail.com* This time I will make a personal pick, following along with any players.

The National Center for Environmental Information ranking numbers for average temperatures of the lower 48 states for summer 2018 will be posted on or shortly after September 7th, 2018 which will be the official “Climate Lottery” numbers of the contest. Any subsequent changes by NCEI after their initial posted rankings will not be valid for the contest…and those ranking numbers will change with time. The winning Climate Lottery numbers for spring (MAR, APR, MAY 2018)  were 76/16/124 with a Power Ball number of 103 for the season. 

Hello again to all weather and climate geeks out there.  Spring 2018 had a lot of wild swings, temperature wise, across the continental United States. Once statistics were processed, though, Spring 2018 goes down in history as yet another above average season. If you wish to play “The Climate Lottery” pick three numbers between 1 and 124 (with 1 representing the coldest possible ranking and 124 being the highest possible ranking) for June, July and August 2018. Also, pick a “Power Ball” or overall ranking number for summer 2018 between 1 and 124. The Power Ball ranking will serve as a tiebreaker for any close picks between contestants. Your picks are NCEI rankings for average temperatures across the lower 48 states. Since 2018 is the 124th year that the National Center for Environmental Information has been ranking years since 1895 all months for 2018 will have a warmest ranking of 124. Those for 2018 will have a range from 1 to 124. The coldest ranking would be the number 1. Please give your picks to Guywalton10@gmail.com before July 5th, 2018. If you wait until just before July 5th to make your picks, you can make an educated guess as to what the ranking for March will be (and, also a heads-up guess for April). All data can be found at the National Center for Environmental Information site noted here: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/temp-and-precip/us-maps/1/201702#us-maps-select

The Power Ball (or overall National Center for Environment Information) number for Spring 2018 for the lower 48 states was 103, which was well above the average ranking of 62, and the 21st warmest spring on record for the lower 48 states. In the Climate Lottery game, I’ve defined each individual lottery number as rankings for each month for the lower 48 states, Power Ball numbers as those for each season, and Mega Ball numbers as those for each year. Spring 2018 temperatures were above average across most of the lower 48 states.

Chances for an entire season of below average temperatures are becoming much less likely across the lower 48 states due to carbon pollution. The spring season, as a whole, saw above average temperatures across the lower 48 states. The whole point of these posts is to demonstrate how skewed temperatures have become towards warmth due to climate change. Of course, as far as the globe goes, the larger an area that is compared to averages, the more likely that area is to be above long term averages. What has happened, so far, this decade is yet more proof of the climate lottery game being loaded for warmth in the United States. Balls coming out of the Climate Lottery hopper are likely to have high numbers, which was indeed the case for the spring except for one cold, anomalous month.

Here’s a breakdown of the National Climatic Center’s ranking numbers for Spring 2017, which was the 21st warmest spring on record (or a Powerball ranking of 103):

3-Month Statewide Average Temperature Ranks

Well above average temperatures occurred in the Four Corners States and Texas only. No states saw below average temperatures.

The following is a breakdown of each month for Spring 2018. Each chart shows “Climate Lottery” numbers for each state (or rankings) from a scale of 1 to 124. In March the overall ranking for the lower 48 states was 76 (out of 124):

The south-central states continued to see above average temperatures. The mid-Atlantic area and Florida saw colder than average temperatures. Average temperature wise March 2018 was not noteworthy.

In April 2018  the overall ranking was 16 for the lower 48 states (out of 124).

Despite the average temperature of the planet being about 1C above long term averages we can still see well below average temperatures over large areas of the globe for a month or two on occasion if a cold synoptic pattern develops. April 2018 fit that bill for the U.S., which was the first much colder than average month since November 2014. I’ve noticed that such weather patterns are becoming much more rare, particularly since the turn of the century. Wisconsin and Iowa had their coldest Aprils on record. Monthly low temperature records were set at 373 stations across all nine Midwestern states, including 82 in Iowa and 79 in Wisconsin. 

In May 2018 the overall ranking for the lower 48 states was 124 (out of 124):

Wow! What a tremendous turnaround from April. The lower 48 states saw it’s warmest May on record. Eight states from Oklahoma to Virginia saw their warmest Mays on record. I believe that once a “cold pocket” such as occurred over North America in April will quickly turn warm since averages are so high across the planet. May 2018 was the poster child for this effect in the U.S. Here is Bob Henson’s write up on May: 

https://www.wunderground.com/cat6/nations-hottest-may-record-leaves-dust-bowl-dust

These are some of Bob’s stats contained within the Weather Underground post:

Dozens of other U.S. cities and towns had their warmest May on record. This includes at least 11 state capitals, all with more than a century of weather data under their belts:

Austin, TX (80.6°F, tied with May 1996, records begin 1898)
Atlanta, GA (74.8°F, tied with May 1996, records begin 1880)
Charleston, WV (72.0°F, old records 71.7°F in 1991, records begin 1892)
Columbus, OH (71.7°F, old record 70.8°F in 1991, records begin 1879)
Indianapolis, IN (72.6°F, old record 70.7°F in 1896, records begin 1871)
Lansing, MI (64.7°F, tied with May 1881, records begin 1863)
Little Rock, AR (76.4°F, old record 76.3°F in 1987, records begin 1880)
Raleigh, NC (74.2°F, old records 73.9°F in 1896, records begin 1887)
Richmond, VA (73.4°F, old record 73.0°F in 2004, records begin 1897)
Springfield, IL (74.5°F, old records 72.3°F in 1962, records begin 1880)
Topeka, KS (74.7°F, old record 72.7°F, records begin 1888)

May tipped the scales making Spring 2018 another warmer than average season with a ranking above 100.

The following are the rankings, so far, for individual months or “climate lottery number picks” for the 2010s:

The average ranking for 2018 is 62 since the coldest ranking would be 1 and the hottest 124. I have color coded all rankings for this post at or below 42 blue and all those at or above 82 red with rankings + or – 20 from the mean value of 62 black. With time, the rankings for each individual month, season and year will change as more data becomes available from NCEI. Also, for reference, the annual or “Mega Ball” numbers are shown on the chart. The mega ball number for 2017 was 121 meaning that 2017 was the third warmest year on record for the lower 48 states. Now this is important…The last three years have had at least a top four ranking for the U.S. The year 2012 remains the top dog seeing the hottest year on record. 

Seasonal or Power Ball rankings for winter are those for DEC/JAN/FEB, spring are MAR/APR/MAY, summer JUN/JUL/AUG, and fall SEP/OCT/NOV. Also, keep in mind that NCEI rankings for seasons compare and are not merely an average of rankings of individual months of a season or year as was the case for Spring 2018: 76/16/124/P.B. 103

Notice that since the start of 2010 only four out of thirty-four seasons have been below average or “blue.” Twenty-five out of thirty-four seasons since 2010 have been “red” or above average. Indeed, the Climate Lottery hopper is very much loaded for above average temperatures for the lower 48 states looking at recent history. The last fourteen seasons were all red and ranked at or above 100. Yes, the “casino of climate averages” is cheating causing the “house of warming” due to carbon pollution to win just about every season

 I hope that everyone will have a great summer. Try to stay cool.😎

Guy Walton

“The Climate Guy”