In fact, you could argue that the North American summer actually started two days before the official end of winter this year, when the town of Winner, South Dakota turned in a 94-degree temperature reading. It was part of that wild July-in-March heat wave that stretched across two-thirds of the country, a stretch of weather so bizarre that historian Christopher Burt called it “probably the most extraordinary anomalous heat event” that the nation has ever seen. International Falls, “the icebox of the nation,” broke its heat records 10 straight days, and Chicago nine. In Traverse City, Michigan, on March 21, the record high was 87 degrees. But the low was 62 degrees, which was 4 degrees higher than the previous record high. The technical word for that is, insane.
And it wasn’t just the U.S. — new March records were set everywhere from Perth to Reykjavik, not to mention (this is the gun on the wall in Act One) Summit Station at the top of the Greenland Ice Cap.
In Dodge City, Kansas, the temperature reached 111 degrees for the first time since record keeping began in 1874.
Plants, responding in their plantlike ways, blossomed. And so, though April was warmer than normal, the expected frosts killed an awful lot of fruit before it could ever get started. Traverse City, for instance, sits at the heart of the U.S. cherry crop — but not this year. Still, April was a warmish pause, and May warm as well, with the heat gathering. And then right around the solstice in June, all hell broke loose — or at least something of a similar temperature. More