Friday, July 6, 2012

Welcome to Arizona, Wisconsin

And not just because both states are riddled with idiotic, Tea-baggers politics. If you're in Southern Wisconsin, you've been dealing with Arizona-style heat and lack of rain so far this Summer. 104 in Madison yesterday, and similar readings throughout the Midwest. And as maps from UW-Madison's excellent State Climatology Office show, the last 30 days has featured near-record heat that is well above the average.

It's also featured a wild variety of precipitation, as Superior's floods and other forms of heavy rain have pelted northern Wisconsin, while southern Wisconsin has been bone-dry.

In fact, the U.S. Drought Monitor has now placed Wisconsin into "moderate drought", and those readings were taken on Tuesday, before 2 straight days of 100+ with no rain in that part of the state.

We've already seen effects from Wisconsin's warm 2012 weather with cherry crop failures nearing 80% around Door County, and large maple syrup losses in other parts of the state, mostly due to premature blooming due to the 80-degree March and then reversion to normal temperatures and freezes in April. The losses were enough to make Governor Walker actually do his job and ask the Obama Administration to help farmers cover their losses with federal disaster aid. Sadly, Walker's empathy and desire for Obama assistance doesn't seem to translate over into helping poor people get medical care for calamaties beyond their control. (I'm sure this inconsistency has nothing to do with Walker winning the rural vote in June)

But two big economic winners from all this heat? Electric companies who will see larger-than-expected revenues (Madison came close to an all-time record for electric usage yesterday, and only failed to break it because many people are off work and on vacation), and movie theaters, as people escape the heat for some A/C. Me and my girlfriend did just that on Wednesday the 4th, heading to Sundance in Madison to see "Ted" (pretty darn funny with a good heart, although some will seem familiar if you watch "Family Guy"), and the lines were huge. I'd be very interested in seeing the holiday week box office figures, because I bet they'll be even larger than the normal 4th of July bump because of this brutal heat.

Off to northeastern Wisconsin for a wedding (not mine), and to take off about 15 degrees on the thermometer. Stay cool and safe till then, and I'll be back here when the weather returns to a point of sanity for Wisconsin.

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