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Relentless heat continues into August

One of the hottest summers in nearly 60 years looks like it will continue into August, according to the Kentucky Climate Center at WKU.

Even though no record highs were set and no days topped 100 degrees, the number of days in June and July with afternoon highs of 90 degrees or above was three times the number from 2009 and the highest since 1952, according to a monthly climate summary prepared by Dr. Greg Goodrich.

State Climate Stuart Foster notes that the outlook for August is more of the same, as the Climate Prediction Center indicates an enhanced probability of above normal temperatures for much of the country, including Kentucky.

The National Weather Service is predicting temperatures in the upper 90s to near 100 this week. (For daily temperatures and other weather data, check out the Kentucky Mesonet website.)

“The worst part about the heat this summer is that it has been relentless,” said Dr. Goodrich, who leads WKU’s meteorology program in the Department of Geography and Geology. “Aside from a brief cooler than normal period prior to the Fourth of July holiday, our last big cool down relative to normal dates back to mid-May. Climatologically speaking, the culprit appears to be related to the developing La Nina in the tropical Pacific. Historically, some of our warmest summers in the mid-South have occurred when La Nina is developing.”

Temperatures in July were 1.5 to 4.5 degrees above normal. Despite the afternoon heat, morning low temperatures were actually much warmer relative to normal compared to afternoon high temperatures, according to Dr. Goodrich’s report.

For example, July 2010 was the fifth warmest in Bowling Green using minimum temperatures but only the 33rd warmest using maximum temperatures. From July 23-25, Louisville suffered through three consecutive nights with overnight temperatures in the 80s.

As was the case in June, rainfall for the month was highly variable and ranged from 30 percent to 200 percent of normal. Paducah was among the driest spots with just over an inch of rain while locations in central Kentucky including Monroe and LaRue counties picked up more than 8 inches of rain.

In far western Kentucky, dry conditions have impacted the corn and soybean crops.

Dating back to May, counties along the Kentucky-Tennessee border have received more than 20 inches of rain, which marks the second straight year that the May-July period has seen near-record rainfall in this area.

Severe weather caused extensive damage and loss of life during July.  Pike County was declared a federal disaster area after a flash flood claimed two lives and caused more than $10 million in damage to property and infrastructure on July 17.

Severe storms also caused damage in Shelby County on July 17 and in the northeastern Kentucky counties of Carter, Elliott, Lawrence, Lewis, Mason and Rowan on July 20-21.

Contact: Greg Goodrich, (270) 745-5986; or Stuart Foster, (270) 745-5983.

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