Twice as many hot days: Look for a toasty summer in Rochester in 2023 amid climate crisis
Summer should be different this year in Rochester, and for many years to come, due to the climate crisis.
New York state will be far from the hottest place. The Southwest region of the United States will be hit hard by heat in coming decades, according to climate modeling. But places like Rochester, upstate New York, New England and the Pacific Northwest will at times suffer more thermal shock, as warming slams into people, pets, homes and offices not prepared for it.
"Extreme heat exposure is increasing across the country," said Jeremy Porter, chief research officer for First Street, a Brooklyn, New York, research and technology group.
We saw it last year.
July was the third-warmest on record in the U.S., and the 76.4-degree average temperature was nearly 3 degrees above normal, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration said. Europe broiled. New England suffered through two heatwaves.
HOTTER FORECAST: According to NOAA's most recent seasonal climate forecast from May 18, Rochester is leaning toward "above normal" temperatures with a 40%-50% chance of higher than typical temperatures for July, August and September this year.
Late June and the month of July have typically been the hottest months in Rochester, according to rssweather.com. July is when the average daytime temperature has been above 81 degrees, with June and August in the very high 70s for average daytime temperature.
Rochester will experience twice as many hot days this year
Spending time in heat where the heat index or “feels like” temperature is higher than 90 can be harmful for people, especially those with high-risk conditions. Under more normal conditions three decades ago, the number of days above 90 degrees in Rochester would have been about 10 days, according to projections from First Street.
This year in Rochester, about 20 days are expected to hit or go higher than 90 degrees.
On those days, it will likely feel hotter than that in parts of the city that lack vegetation and feature large expanses of cement, glass and metal.
I expect a strong urban heat island effect with this heat as downtown Rochester will be several degrees warmer than other areas with more vegetation and less pollution. pic.twitter.com/ERPgQIAFUR
— James Gilbert (@JamesGilbertWX) August 29, 2022
IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE: There is “literally no question” that heat waves are becoming more intense and more frequent in the U.S. and around the world because of climate change, said Dr. Michael Mann, a presidential distinguished professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science at the University of Pennsylvania.
“Sure, heat waves happen naturally,” he said. “But we would not be seeing this record (Northwest) heat wave, or the unprecedented ‘heat dome’ last summer, if not for human-caused warming from fossil fuel burning.”
What is the role of El Niño?
An El Niño appears to be forming along the equator off the west coast of South America in the Pacific Ocean. That could have a big effect on the weather in the United States and around the world.
For three years now, La Niña was large and in charge, but the La Niña ended, and now warmer water temperatures signal an El Niño probably is forming.
The Climate Prediction Center sees favorable chances of an El Niño and the possibility of a strong El Niño. El Niños often lead to some of the hottest years on record, including the record-high global average temperature set in 2016. That leads to fears the globe could see a new record high within the next couple of years.
In a mid-May update, the Climate Prediction Center said El Niño is likely by summer and puts the chances for a strong El Niño at 55%. Climate scientists say a strong El Niño would almost certainly send temperatures soaring this year and into 2024, increasing chances for a new record high global average.
Projected increased temperatures in western NY state
Monroe County is planning for well-elevated temperatures in the coming decades.
What has the city of Rochester said? This is an assessment published by the city:
"Rochester’s climate is changing. Over the next 50 years, Rochester will see:
"Warmer winters and hotter summers
"More days over 90°F, and longer heatwaves annually
"More rainy days
"Two to three times more frequent extreme storms
"Climate change impacts can put the health and well-being of many people living in our city, especially vulnerable populations, at risk and can worsen issues around equity and accessibility.
"Potential climate change impacts from increased temperature days and duration include:
"More heat can lead to poor air quality such as high levels of pollen and pollutants. This may worsen rates of asthma, allergies and respiratory illnesses.
"Cities are hotter than rural areas because things like roads, buildings, and parking lots absorb and hold heat. This 'urban heat island' effect can lead to increased heat exhaustion and respiratory illnesses.
"More heat can increase the need for AC in homes and public spaces, which uses lots of energy.
"More heat can expand the range and seasonal activity period of ticks, which may increase Lyme disease."
The Democrat & Chronicle is investigating the effects of a rapidly heating planet on people who live in our city. Follow along with "City on Fire" as we report the struggle with summer temperatures. This is part of the USA TODAY project Perilous Course. Contact journalist William Ramsey to be included in a story if you have been affected by heat: expense of air conditioning or lack of it, health risks, less access to green space, concern about pets and animals in the summer conditions, worry about an older loved one, etc.
Includes reporting by USA TODAY and reporters Dinah Pulver and Doyle Rice.
This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Rochester NY weather: What is the summer heat forecast for 2023