The high temperature in Okarche today reached 109 degrees which set a record for the date. The previous record was 107 degrees set in 1999. With a low temperature of 78 degrees, the average temperature today was 94 degrees which is two degrees warmer than the previous average warmest day. In addition, the 109 degree high came within three degrees of being the hottest July high of record. If the forecast holds during the remaining two days of the month, we might end up with the 4th warmest July of record.
When the lack of thunderstorms keeps the sky clear, and seasonably low moisture values limit the amount of haze we have, the next best thing is staring at the sky. I started an almost nightly sky watch at the beginning of the Perseid meteor shower which started on July 17th. For most of July, rates are quite low (only one or two an hour), but when combined with other minor meteor showers which are occurring, several can be seen each night. During a two hour watch last night, I observed almost 50 meteors. Most were associated with the delta Aquarids, but there were numerous Perseids as well. Activity should increase steadily until the peak of the Perseids from August 11th through August 13th. The best time should be near or after midnight during the early morning hours of the 12th when as many as 100 meteors per hour will be possible.
Not only have we entered the meteor shower season, but the sun has been getting active as well. We have already had aurora events which have been visible this far south this year, and others seem likely as we approach our solar cycle peak in 2013. Earlier today, an M6-Class flare erupted from sunspot AR1532. The sunspot currently is not facing Earth, but will rotate more in line with us during the next few days. Any further strong flares could lead to more aurora activity.
A Perseid meteor shot from the backyard early this morning:
The 2012 Summer Lightning Season has been a weak one so far. This was the case last year as well before cranking up strongly in August. Hopefully, there will be a repeat of that this year. I saw a few strikes of lightning on the 19th, but only managed to capture one image. On the 25th, I took a late evening drive into the northwest part of the state and saw the only decent lightning I’ve seen so far this summer near Mooreland. Things don’t look too promising through the first week of August, but mid to late parts of that month can still be productive.
An image from the 25th near Mooreland:
The early last freeze this year and the rainfall we got in Okarche from March to May allowed the garden to flourish. We got a decent amount of potatoes, tomatoes, onions, and a variety of peppers. Added in were copious amounts of carrots and cucumbers. The daily haul has been slowing down, but still remains rather impressive. We had enough tomatoes to put up sauce and salsa. We use something from the garden daily.
I’ve always said that rain makes things grow, watering only keeps them alive. The lack of rainfall over the past month and a half is starting to make an impact. Also, the return of intense heat has helped cause a reintroduction of insects which plagued us last year. I suspect the best days of the garden have passed and our production will dwindle through August.
Here is an image of a typical daily haul from the garden this year:
The total precipitation in Okarche so far this month has been 0.08 of an inch. It looks like it will remain that through the end of the month. This will stand as the 13th driest month of over 30 years of records. It will be the second driest July of record – being beat out by only July of 1983 when no precipitation was recorded. Here are the 13 driest months of record:
1. 0.00 – July, 1983
1. 0.00 – January, 1986
1. 0.00 – April, 1987
1. 0.00 – November, 1989
1. 0.00 – February, 1991
1. 0.00 – November, 2007
7. Trace – January, 1996
8. 0.01 – November, 2005
9. 0.02 – August, 2000
10. 0.04 – September, 2000
11. 0.05 – March, 1997
12. 0.07 – January, 2003
13. 0.08 – July, 2012
The year started out doing pretty well with precipitation generally within a couple of inches of normal through the middle of June. The last nine days of June saw no precipitation. Assuming no precipitation will fall through the end of the month, that leaves us with 0.08 of an inch of rain in 40 days. Not a lot of hope is on the horizon for the start of August either. We are now about five inches below normal.
The latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows a huge area of the country with varying degrees of drought. You can almost count on one hand the states which don’t have areas considered in drought. Almost the entire state of Oklahoma is considered to be in drought ranging from severe to exceptional.
July really didn’t start out all that bad temperature wise in Okarche. The last six days of June saw 100+ degree high temperatures, but 100 was only reached twice during the first 17 days of July. With the humidity kept in check, the heat index temperature never reached 105 degrees during that time. More than half of that period saw the daily average at or below normal. It was starting to seem like we might escape a tough July. All that changed on the 18th when low temperatures stopped dropping into the 60′s and highs were regularly reaching over 100 degrees. We have had five days where the temperature has reached 105 degrees, and it appears it will continue to do so through the final few days of the month. Yes, once again I am reminded why July and August have become a couple of my least favorite months, and it becomes more of a case of endurance than anything else. The day usually consists of folding up in the house – waiting out the heat of the day – and trying to get things done outside during the evening. The month that started out looking like it would come in below normal, now stands a chance at being one of the top five hottest July’s on record in Okarche. It’s possible that some high temperatures during the next few days could approach 110 degrees which would help push it to a top four July.
The story has been the same across the nation. Here are a few recent record reports:
The town of Alpine, AZ (a place which my wife and I hold dear to our hearts) sits at 8100 feet. Even in the summer, you can expect to have a light jacket on during the evening hours – usually. On July 26th, the low temperature only dropped to 65 degrees which set a new high low temperature record, beating the old record by eight degrees. Their records date back to 1905.
Today, the temperature at Little Rock and Hot Springs, Arkansas reached 105 degrees – both setting records for the date.
It’s supposed to be hot in Death Valley, California, but within the past couple of weeks they have set record high low temperatures. On one day, the LOW temperature dropped to only 107 degrees! They have seen 129 degrees for a high several times this month.
On July 26th, Idaho Falls, ID set a record high of 96 degrees.
Records continue to be set in Kansas and Missouri. Springfield, MO had a record high of 102 degrees on July 27th. Healy, KS had a record high of 105 degrees – also on the 27th.
A record high was set in Ponca City, OK on the 25th when the temperature reached 106 degrees.
In Wichita Falls, TX, the low on the 25th was 8s degrees which set a record high low. The previous record was 81 degrees set in 1925 and 1930.
Also on the 25th, Galveston, TX set a record high low temperature when the low dropped to only 85 degrees.
Washington DC set a record high of 98 degrees on the 26th. Danville, VA set a record at 99 degrees.
On the 25th, the high at Madison, WI of 98 degrees tied a record which dated back to 1934.
Finally, on the 27th, record high temperatures were set at Sidney, NE (101 degrees) and Alliance, NE (100 degrees).
It will be a hot Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (5th,6th,7th) in Oklahoma as the state remains under the influence of strong high pressure aloft. However, it appears certain now that relief is on the way. Several models and consecutive runs of those models are in agreement that the upper high will shift westward and take up a position over the Rockies by Sunday. This will allow mid level flow to become northerly across the Plains for most of the upcoming week. Also, this will allow a cool front to move into the northern part of the state on Sunday morning – which will move to the Red River by late Sunday. Showers and thunderstorms will form along and behind the front on Sunday, with a decent shot at rain for most areas. While the upcoming week will be mostly dry, temperatures may have trouble reaching seasonal normal. The better news is that this change in the weather pattern may last for an extended period of time. It is quite possible that seasonably mild July temperatures could be with us for at least a week or more.