Cool First Half of Summer

Weather Matters

August 7, 2011

Now that summer has finally arrived, we can look back on a wet, cool spring and early summer, the second in a row. Doubtless some of you enjoy the cool, cloudy weather, but most people I know are pleased that things have warmed up and dried out.

It was especially bad timing that Da Vinci Days weekend (July 15-17) was so wet. Normally, that’s a very dry time here, but this year almost an inch of rain (actually, 0.87 inch) fell between Friday morning and Monday morning. In fact, a little rain fell on that Monday and we haven’t had any since.

But we had plenty earlier! For the months March-July, every month except June was wetter than normal (“normal” is the 1971-2000 average). Total precipitation for the five-month period was 17.62 inches, which is almost 6 inches above the normal of 11.90. These numbers are based on observations at OSU’s Hyslop Experiment Station, on Highway 20 near Lewisburg Road.

And for that same March-July period, we saw below-normal temperatures each month. Listed below are the average high temperatures for the month (the average of all the daily highs) and how they compare with normal

March  53.6 degrees    2.0 below normal

April     56.4 degrees    3.8 below normal

May     62.6 degrees    4.0 below normal

June     70.6 degrees    1.7 below normal

July      77.4 degrees    3.2 below normal

Hmmm. I see a consistent pattern: “below normal”!

One of the benchmarks for a “hot day” is a temperature of 90 degrees or more. This is a common statistic that is used nationally. On average, we get about 13 hot days per year, and about 6.5 of them occur by the end of July. This year we had NONE by the end of July, a rarity. In the last hundred years, only five years have had no 90 degree days prior to August: 1920, 1921, 1954, 1957 and 1993. This year is the sixth.

All of those years except 1954 reached 90 at least once after July 31. So that leaves 1954 as the only year where the temperature never reached 90. In 1993, there were 9, mostly in August.

I remember 1993 quite well. After a very cold, snowy winter (snow and ice lingered through January and much of February), the rains began. It wasn’t a cold spring, but it was a very wet one (19.09 inches from March through July). Plus more than a few thunderstorms. July was especially cloudy and “non-summer-like.”

I had an OSU friend whose daughter was getting married outdoors in the first week in August. Normally that’s the warmest, driest time of year, but 1993 was NOT a normal year! My friend had to decide whether to rent a tent to keep everyone dry.

Day by day, week by week, the cloudy, rainy weather continued. The wedding was Saturday, and by the Monday before the wedding I was getting a call every day: “What do you think? Will it rain?” Finally on Wednesday I said “I think Saturday will be dry.” My friend trusted me, and didn’t get a tent. But was I nervous! Oh, how I prayed for a dry Saturday. For their sake and for mine.

It was dry. And everyone was happy! Even this nervous forecaster. And that’s the last time I predicted Wedding Weather!

One thing about 1993, and this seems to characterize most years when summer arrives late: dry, mild weather lingered well into fall. Usually we get our three months of summer, either sooner or later. And that’s my forecast for this year: warm, dry weather, for the most part, will occur well into October. Not every day will be dry or mild, mind you, but over all that will be true.

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