Friday, September 15, 2006

This was hottest summer since 1936

The evidence just keeps mounting.....

By Brad Heath

The USA sweated this year through its hottest summer in 70 years, with temperatures not seen since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, according to a government report.

From June 1 to Aug. 31, as summer is defined by the National Climatic Data Center, the continental USA had an average temperature of 74.5 degrees, based on readings from hundreds of weather stations nationwide. It was the second-hottest summer temperature the government has recorded since it started keeping track in 1895. The only one warmer — by about two-tenths of a degree — was in 1936.

Nevada had its hottest recorded summer, the report said. Nationwide, the first eight months of 2006 were the warmest January-to-August period on record.

That's likely the result of long-term warming trends and unusual weather patterns that trapped hot air over much of the country this summer, said Jay Lawrimore, chief of the data center's Climate Monitoring Branch. “It's not unprecedented, but the trend is definitely toward warmer weather,” he said Wednesday.

In July, a widespread heat wave caused more than 200 deaths nationwide, including more than 160 in California. The state is now reviewing those deaths to prevent fatalities in future heat waves, spokeswoman Norma Arceo said. The hot weather also intensified a drought in many parts of the Plains and drove record electricity usage.

Lawrimore said temperatures stayed warmer than usual at night in many parts of the country. “It's the 100-degree afternoons that people notice, but more of the country was affected by the high minimum temperatures,” he said.


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