The average temperature in August was 3 degrees above the historic norm; one lucky Texas town had about three months of 100-degree-plus days.
- The summer of 2011 ranks as the second-hottest summer ever suffered by this country, NOAA has announced. Particularly hard hit was Texas, with an unusual rash of days above 100 degrees. Here, Palo Pinto County Sheriff Ira Mercer looks over an area destroyed by a wildfire at Possum Kingdom Lake. The wildfires this year were greatly helped by severe drought. (LM Otero) (Photo: Associated Press)
This summer was hot. How hot? So hot we're going to have to dig into the Dan Rather country-folk-sayins' chum bucket for journalistic analogies. Brace yourself!
This summer was hotter than a Times Square Rolex! It was more fiery than the devil's anvil! It was as hot and squalid as a New York elevator in August, hot enough to peel house paint and hot as a Laredo parking lot!
Actually, scratch that last one. The Laredo asphalt on average was definitely hotter.
Texas, in particular, suffered hard through this infernal season, which amounted to the second hottest summer on record in the United States. Check out this map of cities with days at or above 100 degrees from June 1 to Aug. 31, the time frame of "meteorological summer" (larger):
Note that Laredo, Texas, was the leader of the pack with a brow-weeping 90 of 92 days above the Benjamin mark. That is warm enough to burn your biscuits, singe the tail of a hog and cause corn to pop on the stalk. (Somebody's got to fill the folky-wisdom vacuum left by Rather's departure.)
The damnable heat waves that recently washed over the U.S. forced temperatures in August up to an average of 75.7 degrees, which is 3 degrees above the 20th-century average for the month. The summer as a whole was overheated to 74.5 degrees on average, 2.4 degrees above average. That was a dog's hair below the thermometer reading of 74.6 degrees logged during the barbarous summer of 1936, the hottest in known U.S. history. 2011's summer was also exceedingly dry with precipitation levels 1 inch below average nationwide, a sure-fire recipe for killer wildfires.
Six states had their hottest summers ever in August: Louisiana, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Colorado. There was not a single state last month with temperatures below average, and pernicious drought spread through about a third of the nation. The demonic months behind us lend credence to scientists who say that climate change is driving the world toward permanently warmer summers.
I'm sweating just writing this, so if you'd like many more interesting facts about the sock-soaking Summer of 2011, please direct your eyes to this report from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.