2017 could be hottest on record in El Paso


    Photo: Pixabay/MGN

    This year hasn't just been hot in El Paso, it's been record-setting hot. Temperatures last month soared above the century mark for several days, even reaching 111 degrees at once point, making it the hottest day in El Paso since 1994.

    The high temperatures are still baking the Borderland and there may not be no significant end in sight.

    "Well so far, if we just go January to June, we're looking quite hot and we're averaging 5 degrees above normal for both the high temperature for each day and the low temperature for each day," said Tom Bird, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service office in El Paso. "We haven't seen these in our climate record, which goes back to 1887."

    In fact, out of the top 25 hottest years on record in El Paso, 15 have come since 2000. Eight of those years fall into the top 10. According to Bird, it's a trend he continues to see happen with the increase in global carbon concentrations.

    The Earth tends to see its greenhouse gas emissions and carbon concentrations fluctuate over centuries. "We're in an uptick right now," Bird said. "Part of it is the natural cycle, and a lot of it is we've got a lot of extra CO2 that's trapping the heat and is resulting in warmer temperatures around the world."

    Those greenhouse gasses keep the heat in, so when El Paso and the Borderland see big ridges of high pressure set up over the region for weeks on end, temperatures can soar well past the century mark and can sometimes go over a period of weeks before relief is found.

    Bird said that with the arrival of July, our percentage of days over the century mark is only 37 percent. That is a drop from the yearly high of 45 percent we find every June. But the triple-digit heat tends to stick around at least through August. By September, those triple-digit days only have a 1 percent chance of coming around. Currently, the Borderland averages 20 days of 100 plus-degree temperatures a year. As of Friday, we're already at 20.

    Our friends at Climate Central predict that if the Borderland continues the same temperature increase with no fluctuations, we could see that number of triple-digit days soar even higher. By 2060, they predict El Paso could see as many as 25-50 100 plus-degree days, and by the year 2100, over 50 days at 100 degrees or higher per year.

    But even the winter could see much warmer temperatures. Using data from the National Weather Services climate database, temperatures in the last 30 years have averaged 64.6 degrees for the Borderland, higher than the total average of 64.1 degrees since 1887. The increase in El Paso 30-year temperatures by a half-degree is a stark reminder that several hundred days have been well above average to bring the 30-year total up by that much.

    So while the summer rolls on in the Borderland, remember that these extremely hot days we've been seeing, could become a bit more of the norm as years progress.

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