In case you missed it (because OF COURSE you are all fixated on MY weather), our 100°-day streak ended nearly two weeks ago. Thursday, August 11, we reached a wimpy 97°. It recovered back to 103° on Friday, but that Saturday we had an earth-shattering 89°
high. (It was down to 75° that morning, too! We haven't been that cool since July 1!) It was followed by 99° on Sunday.
But ya know, we were at Wilson's Creek that weekend, and all was normal back in the 100s when we returned. No cool weather for us!
So our streak ended at 40 days, second-best to 1980's 42 days. I'm a bit bummed, but on the whole very glad.
First: THE HEAT ISN'T OVER! We're straight back into the 100s and going strong as ever. Don't get me wrong - August is usually hot here, even blistering, but at some point the boiling heat does break for good. It's overdue this year. Our NEW streak is at 9 days, with no immediate end in sight. The longest-term forecast I can find
says that MAYBE the end will come a week from Friday. Sure. I'll believe that when it happens. If it does, our 100° days will look like this:
7 days (June)
40 days (July-August)
18 days (August)65 Days
If we're going to get insane numbers of 100°+ days, let's set some for-real records! If it weren't for those measly 3 days two weeks ago, we'd be going strong for a 60-day streak. Awesome! :p
I love summer. I like heat, particularly our non-muggy AND non-desert style. I like wearing shorts, lightweight summer tops, knee-length skirts, and sandals. I like not being cold when I get out of the shower or drag myself out of bed in the morning. I love the sun.
But I so ready for a change! To not break a sweat the instant I walk outside would be heavenly. To not feel my skin burning when the sun hits it, or my lips drying when the wind blows, would be a marvel. (Above about 98°, no wind is cool.
It's more like a hot hairdryer.) To see an overcast sky would be a relief to my eyes. To check the forecast and have it say something different
, much less actually have to plan for rain, would be a miracle!
Back to why I'm glad at the end of the streak. It's not because I want cooler weather, although that's the case. (a) The streak ended, but the heat didn't. No reason to be glad there. (b) I wasn't here to enjoy it. :p
All summer there's been a lot of comparisons to the summer of 1980, which I've discussed before. The two numbers talked about the most are the consecutive streak of 100° days, and the total number of 100° days. Comparison:
1980: 42 consecutive days :: 69 total days
2011: 40 consecutive days :: 56/65 total days (to date/forecast)
Looks pretty close, huh? As I've said before, a few numbers don't tell the whole story. And for once, I'm going to look beyond my own state to get... The Rest of the Story.
That infallible bastion of knowledge, Wikipedia, has a few choice words to say.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_North_American_heat_wave
The article is little more than a stub. It says the heat wave affected "the Southern Plains, Midwestern United States, Eastern Canada, and much of the Eastern Seabord." Then there's some discussion of various records set, and mention of at least 25 deaths in the Midwest.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1980_United_States_heat_wave
"The 1980 United States Heat Wave was a period of intense heat and drought that wreaked havoc on much of the midwestern United States throughout the summer of 1980. It is among the most devastating natural disasters in terms of deaths and destruction in U.S. history, claiming at least 1,700 lives and because of the massive drought, agricultural damage reached US$20.0 billion (US$55.4 billion in 2007 dollars, adjusted for the GNP inflation index). It is among the billion-dollar weather disasters listed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration."
Whereas North America had a heat wave this summer, it was not as widespread, and definitely not as long or severe, as it was in 1980. North Texas' experience has been nearly as bad*, but not so for the rest of the country and Canada. It's just our bad luck. And definitely good luck for the rest of the country.
On the list of U.S. disasters by death toll
, 1980 is tied for #10 and just behind Hurricane Katrina. (It's an interesting list. #1 is the Galveston hurricane of 1900, and #2 is the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906. September 11th is #5 and Pearl Harbor #6.)
It will take some time to assess the total impact of the 2011 heat wave, of course. I know there won't be only 25 fatalities, and the long-term impacts of the present drought could indeed be monumental. But I hazard that it still won't approach 1980. That is definitely something to be grateful for.* In 1980, "Dallas/Fort Worth reached an all-time high when the temperature hit 113 °F (45 °C) for three consecutive days on June 26-28. In all, the Dallas/Fort Worth area saw 29 days in which the previous record high temperature was either broken or tied." The average high temperature for the whole summer was over 101°. No way we're going to make that this year. Our highest temperature this summer was only 110°, and the majority of the days were only 100°-102°. 1980 was hotter.