With drought watches, wildfire smoke, and killer humidity, it's been a cruel summer in the Philadelphia region so far.
The City Cast Philly team recently spoke with Frank Kummer, environmental reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, about how climate change is driving this extreme local weather. Here’s a condensed version of what we learned:
“What you’re seeing now are these storms that are just kind of materializing. The forecasts see them coming, but it’s usually a day before. They’re hard to track,” said Kummer. This sudden onset means people can be outside when unsafe weather is imminent, as tragically occurred this past weekend in Bucks County.
Canadian scientists say that because of drier, hotter, and windier conditions, wildfire activity has increased. In our region, we’ve seen wild wind patterns that brought the smoke here. In nearby New Jersey, the wildfire season is also starting earlier, though that smoke usually blows out to sea, not towards Philadelphia.
The winter of 2022-23 was among Philly’s five warmest in 150 years. Not only that, but the average local temperature for June has warmed 3.1 degrees Fahrenheit since 1970. Higher temperatures mean earlier plant flowering, and more mosquitoes. Yikes.