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Monday numbers: A hot and stormy May portends the effects of climate change in North Carolina

(Source: Climate Central)

Warm and wet in the west, steamy and wet in the middle, and hot and dry in the east: North Carolina’s weather trends in May illustrated the effects of climate change.

In addition to warmer than normal temperatures, North Carolina experienced at least five confirmed tornadoes in May: in Orange, Durham, Rockingham, Iredell and Cleveland counties.

On the other extreme, drought or abnormally dry conditions covered 41% of the state, as of this week.

National Weather Service forecasters are predicting a very active hurricane season in the Atlantic, with six to 10 hurricanes. Of those, three to six could be major, meaning they rates as a Category 3 or higher.

Tropical Storm Alex, the first named system of the year in the Atlantic basin, formed over the weekend. Based on national predictions, there could be as many as 20 more named storms before hurricane season ends Nov. 30.

Here’s a look at some recent climate trends:

Worldwide
36.3 billion — Tons of carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere, worldwide in 2021, the most in human history
421 parts per million — Peak concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere in May 2022, the highest global level in at least 4 million years

Raleigh and Durham
71.5 degrees — Average temperature, May 2022
2.6 degrees — Warmer that temperature is than normal, based on a 30-year average
6 — Number of days that hit 90 degrees or above, May 2022, RDU International Airport
4.1 degrees — Increase in average temperature for May since 1970
5.25 — Inches of rain, May 2022
155 — That amount in percentage of normal precipitation

Charlotte
2.4 degrees — Increase in average temperature for May since 1970
26 — Number of summer days with above normal temperatures, 2021
3 — Number of days that hit 90 degrees or above, May 2022, Charlotte/Douglas International Airport

Asheville
1.9 degrees — Increase in average temperature for May since 1970
20 — Number of summer days with above normal temperatures, 2021
2 — Number of days that hit 85 degrees or above, May 2022, Asheville Regional Airport

Wilmington
1.6 degrees — Increase in average temperature for May since 1970
15 — summer days with above normal temperatures, 2021
3 — Number of days that hit 90 degrees or above, May 2022, Wilmington International Airport

Nationwide
11,000 — Estimated number of people who died of heat-related illnesses, 1978-2018

Monday numbers: A hot and stormy May portends the effects of climate change in North Carolina
(Map: NC Drought Management Advisory Council)

North Carolina
304 — Number of wildfires, May 2022
1,071 — Number of acres burned
10 — Number of counties in a severe drought, as of June 2
14 — Number in a moderate drought
17 — Number that are designated as abnormally dry

Atlantic hurricane predictions, 2022 (70% probability)
14 to 21 — Number of named storms
6 to 10 — Number of hurricanes
3 to 6 — Number of major hurricanes

Source: Climate Central, NOAA, NC Forest Service, NC Drought Monitor,
The New York Times



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