Steamy July: Maybe a Record Month for Heat After All

by Categorized: Data, Environment, Science Date:

In our last post, we celebrated the end of a week-long heatwave by noting that as brutal as July 2013 has been, it was certain to fall short as a record-breaking month as measured by either average high temperatures or by the number of days – or days in a row – that the thermometer topped 90.

But as astute readers pointed out, the maximum daily temperature is not the only way to gauge heat, and this month has been noteworthy for steamy nights that seemed to hold onto oppressive temps long after the sun was down. Climatologists, in fact, frequently measure the hotness of a period by looking at the average daily temperature; not a true weighted average evaluating the temperature at multiple points throughout the day, but simply by taking the mid-point between the daily high and the daily low.

And when July’s numbers are crunched in that fashion – well, let’s just say that those of you with central air conditioning may be in for a shock when your next electric bill arrives.

So far this month, the midpoint between high and low temperatures in Hartford has averaged 81.2 degrees. That tops every July going back at least to 1920, just as this month’s average high temperature – 89.1 degrees – is unmatched.

But while moderating temperatures for the rest of the month are certain to knock out July 2013’s chances of having the hottest high temperatures since at least 1920, the month is likely to retain its distinction as having the hottest average temperature on record.

For the full month of July, the highest average temperature since 1920 was 78.8 degrees, set in 2010. That’s more than 3 degrees lower than this month’s average temperature to date, and it would take some unusually cool weather over the next nine days for July 2013 to lose the top spot in average temperature.

As long as average temperatures hit at least 73.1 degrees for the rest of the July (as they have every day for a month), July 2013 will top every other month since at least 1920 in average daytime and nighttime temperatures.

So by that measure, one for the record books after all.

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