Deep breath in. Deep breath out.
How I love the sounds and feel of a tropical storm! I imagine myself a butterfly swooping between the raindrops. And the best part of it all, is that I don’t have to spew out CO2 to get there. This woman on wings can experience the celestial cleansing right here in the Great White North, thanks to…
Holy crap! A dog just dropped past my window…and a cat…and another dog. Ewe! my front lawn is covered in entrails…
…thanks to climate change.
Of course there have always been intense summer storms and the odd expulsion of canines and felines, but that was just it. They were odd; they weren’t common place. What seems to happen now as a norm is: the black clouds rumble in, the sky opens up, the sky clears, the sun shines, then the winds come again as the eye of the storm passes, and another deluge falls.
If I were to look at the Toronto daily precipitation charts from Environment Canada they would seem quite uneventful. The rainfall measurements are great for tracking overall trends, but the data does not reflect how fast and furious that water hits the ground. For this, I have to rely on my memory which of course is not quantifiable and doesn’t hold up in the courts of scientific analysis.
The summer of 2012 had a certain Caribbean feel to it even after the Caribana floats were gone. Was that an anomaly?
And the one before that also had shoppers caught off guard running for cover in store doorways, in streetcar shelters, ordering a hot dog as token rent to stay under the vendor’s tarp, or just pulling out a bar of soap and going at it Irish Spring style.
Well, if it’s not the lack of sage in my diet or eating spaghetti sauce out of aluminum plates, or, shudder to think, the fermenting of my brain cells like a good wine, then what IS causing this shift in Toronto’s rainfall patterns?
I decided to look for some dots to connect. So put on your shiny slippers Dorothy and follow the polka-dot path…
Polka-Dot Number 1
According to a study performed by the American Meteorological Society and published in Volume 26, Issue 11 (2013), the intensity of extreme precipitation— the someone-dumped-a-bucket-of-water-on-me factor— increases between 5.9% and 7% for every 1°C change in “mean” temperature.
In the language of statistical analysis, “mean” is what we non-mathematicians refer to as “average”, yet it does capture the essence of our dear Gaea getting nasty on your thin white cotton sun dress. Please stay away from construction sites…just in case.
Polka-Dot Number 2
According to a Xylene Power Ltd analysis of Environment Canada data taken over a 40 year period from 1965 to 2005, the average increase in summer temperature in Toronto was 2.726°C (2.4397°C for the annual average increase).
In 2005, Toronto’s summer soup had as much as 19.082% more broth in it than it had 40 years prior.
WOW! That’s nearly 20% more frantically falling felines and disastrously downward dogs!
But hang on a sec. There are 8 years missing. What about today: July 8, 2013?
Polka-Dot Number 3
I haven’t found any summaries on summer only temperatures, so I’ll have to use the annual averages instead until I can start sifting through the raw data myself.
The average annual mean temperature in Toronto was about 8.7°C in 2005 according to the red line on this chart taken from the Xylene Power Ltd. analysis.
According to the archives at Pearson Airport the average annual mean temperature from July 1st, 2005 to July 2nd, 2013 was 9.1°C.
9.1 – 8.7 = 0.4
So, in the past 8 years the average “annual” temperature in Toronto has risen by 0.4°C. And the “summer” average temperature has likely risen more (based on data from 1965-2005)
2.726 + 0.4 = 3.126
Therefore the average “summer” temperature in Toronto has risen by AT LEAST 3.126°C since 1965…the year I was born!
Today as Toronto deals with the aftermath of the flooded Don Valley Parkway, GO train track flooding on Lakeshore, subway station flooding, EMS sirens going non-stop, hundreds of thousands of people out of power, and the risk of the Don river banks collapsing (YUCK! I wouldn’t go swimming in it), the polka-dot path leads me to the following conclusion. And I’m not waiting to officially crunch the raw “summer” temperature data before voicing it.
On July 8th, 2013, in Toronto, we’re paying way too much for soup— about 21.9% more than 40 years prior in fact.