The hot temperatures forecast for much of the Northern Plains this week will cause many people to comment about climate change. Keep in mind that weather is naturally highly variable, particularly in the Northern Plains. A week of very hot weather, even if a few daily records are broken, is just the weather being variable. Our region had some remarkable cold snaps the past few years, and if the week ahead is our climate warming up, then what were those cold snaps?

Climate change, and specifically our warming climate, is measured not by the regular ups and downs of weather, but by the increasing frequency of warm spells and the decreasing frequency of cool spells. One hot day or one hot summer might challenge a record set back in the 1980s or 1930s, two decades known for their heat waves, but that comparison just means it was about as hot that many decades ago.

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