I’ll Take Weather Patterns for $200, Alex

>> Thursday, June 5, 2008

What is going on with our spring weather?

With all the rain and unseasonably cool temperatures so far this year, I decided to look at the historical record for Utah. Last year on this day the temp was 89F with a low of 72F. Today’s range is: over night low of 44F with the expected high in the mid 60s. This was the lowest overnight low since 1995. Since I moved here to Utah in May of 2004, the highs on this day have been 2004-91F, 2005-84F, 2006-88F, 2007-89F. So this is what I have been expecting.

I moved here from San Diego, CA so these temperatures were pretty easy to deal with. But, since I started planting perennials last year after two years of digging beds and prepping the clay soil that I am not used to, I expected this year to be just like any other.

Wrong. The historical record shows that the average high on this date is 79F with a historical range of 55F to 91F. That is quite a range of temps.

I asked some long time locals about this weather and they tell me that it has reached has high as 98F on this day, so high temperatures are not uncommon, but none of them could remember this much rain. After the short time I have lived here even I know not to complain about the rain. Sitting in a valley between two mountain ranges, we depend on snow fall to fill up our reservoirs and lakes. This year we got a lot of snow and every spring with the drastic rise in temperatures there is a danger of snow melt overwhelming the river beds down through the canyons and it is not uncommon to have homes flooded out near the mouths of those canyons. So this gradual warming we are experiencing this year is a real blessing.

Since global warming is becoming a hot topic, I got to thinking about how we will be affected by it. Is this crazy change in weather the result of global warming? Could it be that this climate change does not mean higher temperatures everywhere? With the normal season changes, we are well aware of how the planet is warm on one side while being cooler on the other side. But when our fellow gardeners in Australia reported hotter than normal temperatures throughout their summer this year we in the U.S. experienced warmer than normal winter conditions. So I don’t think that would explain this current cold pattern.

And then to add to the mystery, the eastern half of the U.S. is currently going through temperatures in the 90s while we sit here on the west side of the Rocky Mountains in in the 60s. No wonder meteorologist have such a difficult time predicting the weather.

I went to the EPA Climate Change website which confirms that we can expect increased temperatures across the nation for the next century. But I cannot find anything that explains why we are experiencing lower temps when the temps are supposed to be going up. Conclusion, this is just a freak incidence and we should not get used to it and just enjoy it while we can.

On another, closely related topic, last year, after putting in the perennial garden I went in search of shade cloth to protect my plants from Utah’s hot sun. I was surprised to learn that the only thing I can find is the stuff you spread over patios to shade humans.

Even at the garden centers I could not find any of what I consider to be real shade cloth for plants. I guess they call it garden fabric or row covers. Maybe they don’t worry about the hot direct sun here. Could that be? Anyway, I had to order it online from Gardeners Supply. There are several garden supply websites that carry the same thing at comparable prices. I’m surprised these local Garden Centers don’t carry it.


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