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Comparing This Summer's Heat with Yester-year

Tony has some surpriings stats on just how this summer's heat compares with recent years. The numbers and his perspective may surprise you.

 Wednesday Night Add On

Congrats to historic Marietta-Parkersburg. Wednesday's afternoon thundershowers arrived in the nick of time and helped to keep the temperature under 90 degrees for the first time in 13 days. The official high coming in at 88 at the Wood County airport (actually, the storm arrived a half hour later in Marietta so downtown in Belpre County did hit 90).

Meanwhile, Huntington and Charleston have taken turns dodging the 90 degree level, though just by a notch the past two days. So the heat wave is over right? Sort of !

You see, the tradeoff now is for a higher octane tropical climate, one where we exchange the heat for the humidity. 

Now we turn our attention to that influx of southern moisture. Since the Dixie states have been super wet and steamy this summer, it stands to reason that when our air flow comes from the south, we are poised to get equally muggy and perhaps just as wet. It all adds up to a constant level of high humidity and the risk of an afternoon gully washer into next week. 

Wednesday's thundery action affected Logan and Middleburg Island into the Tug Valley of Mingo County. Thunderstorms also dropped some heavy rains in Putnam County especially around the Winfield Lock. In Central WV, the Little Kanawha Valley experienced some downpours from Arnoldsburg downstream to Parkersburg. Elizabeth missed out but not so Spencer and Reedy in Roane WV. 

In the Bluegrass, visitors to the Mountain Homeplace near Paintsville went scurrying for cover when a storm moved in while in the Buckeye State evening thunder rumbled and rained upon Scioto County from the fairgrounds northward. The soy and corn crops gulped in every delicious drop of water. 

And there is more rain and thunder to come in the days ahead as we trade in the desert clime of early summer for the  tropical environment of mid summer. But a word of caution, it can take hot and sunshiny hours to develop the storms, so don't cancel your plans until you see the downpour!

Perspective on the Great Summer Heat Wave
 
I am still crunching the numbers as far as the June-July heat wave is concerned. Since statistics can sometimes overwhelm our society, I am going to compare what we have been through to two years in particular. Both were scorching summers here in Appalachia. Both, in my book, earned legendary status and stand as benchmark summers in my playbook.
 
This summer is legendary for the effects of the heat in a 2 week period after the Derecho wind storm, but not yet for the sheer intensity and duration of the heat. At least not yet. Another long heat wave can change that. Still the 104 degrees this past Saturday in Huntington was the hottest since 1954. Not too shabby!
 
By way of comparison, take 1988 for example. My first summer here in West by God was a scorcher starting in June and lasting through most of August. It was also a drought riddled summer as crops failed, especially the corn and soybeans.
 
Assigning a value of one for every day Huntington hit 100 and another one for every day Charleston hit 100, you will find a total heat score value of 14. This summer so far Huntington comes in at 6 and Charleston at 4 for a total heat score of 10. That’s still well below the numbers put up in the summer of 1988, though there is still more than 2 months in astronomical summer to go.
 
But humor me. The chances of hitting 100 again this summer are no better than 50-50. And if we get some soaking rains by week’s end as I sense, the 100 degree days should be done for the year.
 
THAT WOULD LEAVE THE SUMMER OF 1988 AS SUPERIOR TO THAT OF 2012.
 
Now fast forward to the sizzling summer of 2007. By mid August the hottest temperatures in more than 50 years baked our region when Charleston/Huntington hit 104/103 respectively on August 16.
 
As of July 10, the summer of 2007 had registered 16/13 ninety degree days in Charleston and Huntington respectively. So far this season we are running ahead of that schedule with both Charleytown and Collis P’s hometown having put up 18 ninety degree days.
 
However, virtually every day in August of 2007 hit 90 degrees and the heat went all the way through September and into October. That fall, high school football games were delayed an hour on Friday nights to allow for some evening cooling. The temperature on Columbus Day was in the mid 90s.
 
We wound up with 54/53 ninety degree days in Charleston/Huntington respectively. I contend we are not likely to hit that number this summer.
 
 
THAT WOULD LEAVE THE SUMMER OF 2007 AS SUPERIOR TO THAT OF 2012.
 
Add it up and my gut says it is the Derecho not the admittedly blazing heat of late June-July that will go down as the most remarkable weather event of this summer.
 
Special thanks to the Cornell U. Press center for the following statistics.
Record number of days at or above 90 degrees starting July 1.

Location
2012
Record/Previous Record
Prior Record Year
Dulles Ap, VA
8
6
2002*
Washington, DC
8
8
1958*
Wilmington, DE
8
7
1934
Baltimore, MD
8
7
1966*
Newark, NJ
8
6
1955
Philadelphia, PA
8
6
1999*
Charleston, WV
8
8
1921*
Huntington, WV
8
8
1999*

* Record also occurred in another year.
 
Locations that came close to the hottest date ever on record

Location
Temp
Date
Rank
Hottest
Date
Washington, DC
105
7/7/2012
3
106
7/20/1930*
Elkins, WV
96
7/8/2012
6
99
7/16/1988*
Baltimore, MD
104
7/7/2012
8
107
7/10/1936
Huntington, WV
104
7/7/2012
8
108
7/28/1930
Dulles, VA
101
7/8/2012
9
105
7/22/2011
Atlantic City, NJ
100
7/7/2012
13
106
6/28/1969
Harrisburg, PA
101
7/7/2012
16
107
7/3/1966
Wilmington, DE
101
7/7/2012
18
107
8/7/1918
Newark, NJ
102
7/7/2012
18
108
7/22/2011
JFK/NYC, NY
99
7/7/2012
18
104
7/3/1966
Philadelphia, PA
101
7/7/2012
19
106
8/7/1918

* Record also occurred in another year.
 
 
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