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Paynesville Press - August 15, 2001

Hotter than ever?
Not necessarily, says SCSU meteorologist

By Michael Jacobson

The recent hot, sticky weather in the St. Cloud area has broken a few temperature records, according to Dr. Bob Weisman, a meteorologist at St. Cloud State University, but probably fewer than people might think.

Last week, only two records were set: a new record high on Monday, Aug. 6, and a record warm low on Sunday, Aug. 5.

The old record high on Aug. 6 was 94 degrees, set in 1930, 1937, and 1983. The high on Monday, Aug. 6, 2001, reached 98 degrees.

The record warm low on Aug. 5 was 72 degrees, set in 1947. The new record warm low from Sunday, Aug. 5, 2001, was 76 degrees.

The area just missed record-high temperatures on two other days by one degree. On Aug. 5, the record was 98 degrees and the temperature this year reached 97 degrees, and on, Aug. 7, the record was 99 degrees and the temperature reached 98 degrees.

Since May 1, 2001, Dr. Weisman has recorded five record temperatures. The only two record highs were recorded on May 15 and Aug. 6. Record warm low temperatures occurred three times: on June 25, July 31, and Aug. 5.

So far in 2001, Dr. Weisman has recorded 17 days with temperatures reaching at least 90 degrees. A normal year has 11 90-degree days. The record is 33 days of 90 degrees set in 1988.

Despite the hot weather last week, the temperature did not reach 100 degrees. The last 100 day in St. Cloud was more than ten years ago: on July 3, 1990. A temperature of 100 degrees in August has not been recorded in St. Cloud in 50 years. Only seven 100 August days are on record, according to Dr. Weisman, and the last one was on Aug. 16, 1950.

Temperatures for the month of July both the average high and average low were two degrees higher than normal, according to Dr. Weisman. Temperatures cracked 90 degrees eight times in July.

Statistic: July 2001 - Normal
Average high: 84.4 - 82.6
Average low: 59.6 - 57.6
Average temp: 72.0 - 70.1

However, the warmth was not unusual for July. Just two years ago, in July 1999, the average temperature was 72.6 degrees, higher than the average for this July, which was 72.0 degrees.

Dr. Weisman thinks this summer seems so hot because we are accustomed to cooler than normal summer weather. The decade of 1991-2000 had the coldest average summer temperature of the 12 decades on record for St. Cloud. Of the summer since 1989, only three (1991, 1995, and 1999) have had above-normal temperatures.

Though the extreme dew points in late July were unusually high, the area had longer periods of heat and humidity in July 1995 and July 1999, said Dr. Weisman.

July 2001, with a 2.4-inch shortfall, was the second consecutive month in St. Cloud with below-normal rainfall. From June 22-July 21, only 0.32 inch of precipitation during a period when at least an inch of rain per week is required to keep crops and lawns healthy. The above-normal temperatures made this rainfall deficit even worse by increasing evaporation, said Dr. Weisman.

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