Record Number of Records?

Via Steve Skolnick at Capital Climate:

The onslaught of heat records this month is so furious that it’s almost impossible to keep up. The National Climatic Data Center was forced to take its reporting system offline for several days to do emergency maintenance in order to cope, but the reports are still lagging by 2 days. In just the 4 days since theĀ previous update, data through Monday (March 19) show that the number of new daily heat records for March has more than doubled to nearly 4000, while the number of cold records has increased by less than 20, to 113. This gives an astonishing ratio of 34.8 to 1, over 50% above last August’s incredible pace. For the year to date, the ratio is approaching 20 to 1, nearly 10 times the pace of the previous decade.

Are we setting records in the number of records, I wonder…?


  1. This is a trickier question to answer than it might seem. Because records are cumulative, they should decline over time for a fixed set of stations, so just staying the same would be in effect an increase. The mix of stations can change over time as well, further affecting the raw count. Studies have shown that the ratio has been steadily rising over recent decades, currently at about 2 to 1, which is impressive enough in itself. To have a ratio approaching 20 to 1 over a period of nearly 3 months is absolutely mind-boggling.

  2. It seems to me that you can define a sort of prescient record, which is to say, the set of all records still standing. But I guess that's changing the meaning a bit, and you have the issue of different stations with different durations.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.