JOHN CURLEY AND SHARI ELLIKER

Cliff Mass: ‘I don’t think they can say’ 2023 was the hottest year on record

Jan 3, 2024, 3:24 PM

global warming el nino winter...

Seattle skyline on a winter morning (Photo courtesy of The Cliff Mass Blog)

(Photo courtesy of The Cliff Mass Blog)

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) stated there’s a more than 99% chance that 2023 was the hottest year on record according to the recorded global average temperature, beating out 2016, the previous leader. Now climate scientists are claiming 2024 will be even hotter.

“There’s some people claiming this was the warmest year in 125,000 years, which I don’t think they can say that,” University of Washington Meteorologist Cliff Mass said in response to the claim on The John and Shari Show. “It is the hottest year for the period that we have observational records; thermometers and stuff like that. So that’s going back maybe 70-80 years.”

More on WA weather: After warmest December on record, new year to bring new cooler days

According to the National Weather Service, temperatures one hundred years ago were approximately 4.7 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than they are now globally.

“A hundred years ago, it was a couple of degrees cooler, so it’s not a huge amount,” Mass said. “Some of that is natural and some of it is due to us. And we can debate about that. It’s probably a little bit more human C02 and stuff, but there’s some natural warming there as well. But it is only two degrees. The big danger is when some people start talking about big heat waves and things like that, saying, ‘Oh, this is global warming.’ That’s really not good science.”

Mass cited two reasons for 2023 being so hot: Global warming and the Pacific Northwest having one of the strongest El Niño winters. El Niño is a natural climate phenomenon marked by warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean near the equator, which occurs on average every two to seven years.

Despite the strong El Niño winter, Cliff Mass cited that some areas in the Cascades and British Columbia will have more than two feet of snow over the next nine days, and some snowflakes may even reach sea level over western Washington. Some weather experts are stating the El Niño winter could be gone by February, phasing into a La Niña pattern by the end of spring.

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“Extreme weather is the important piece,” Mass told John and Shari on what weather would alarm him. “If we started getting hurricanes here in the Northwest, that we get my attention. But most extreme weather is overwhelmingly natural. That’s the thing you have to keep in mind.

“It’s not that global warming is unimportant,” Mass continued. “Slow warming is going on. Sea levels are slowly rising and we may want to switch to nuclear power. That would be a good thing to do, but it’s not like there’s a crisis that we have to change everything overnight. That’s just completely wrong. And it’s pushing people to do things in a way that costs a lot of money and is actually hurting the most underprivileged because they’re stuck paying the gas tax and all these other things that people are pushing.”

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Cliff Mass: ‘I don’t think they can say’ 2023 was the hottest year on record