Summer began cool, got warmer, stayed wet
With our reservoirs full, and a few extra bucks in our pockets thanks to cool weather in June and July, we can kiss the summer of 2009 goodbye with a smile on our faces today.
The meteorological summer ended at midnight last night, and the reality was easy to accept with that cold breeze wafting in through open windows. Temperatures dropped to 50 degrees out on the WeatherDeck, and that extra blanket was welcome.
(Some poor toad crawled into our barbecue grille after dinner Sunday night, presumably seeking warmth from the cooling ceramic brickettes. He was still there last night when I fired it up for the salmon. It was a crispy garnish I tossed onto the lawn for whatever critters might have a taste for such things. But, I digress...)
It was 60 this morning here at Calvert and Centre streets. Out at BWI-Marshall, the official low for Baltimore was 57 degrees, just four degrees above the record low for a Sept. 1 in Baltimore, set in 1963. Here are some other low readings this morning from around the region. Plenty of 40s and at least one reading in the 30s on the map.
So how does the summer stack up?
June and July were cooler than the long-term averages for Baltimore; July especially, with an average temperature nearly 2 degrees below the norms. August warmed up, averaging 76.6 degrees, or 2.1 degrees above normal.
You can see that trend in the count of 90-degree-plus days. June had none. It was only the 6th time Baltimore's official instruments have failed to reach 90 degrees in June. It was also only the 4th time we've failed to reach 90 in May and June of the same year, and the first since 1979. The average is 7.2 days in the 90s in those two months.
July saw its first 90-degree day on the 12th, the latest date for that event since 1979. Cool nights made the news, too. The low of 58 degrees on July 14 tied the record reached in 2001 and 1895. On the 19th, the low of 57 degrees broke the 59-degree record low for the date, set in 1962.
There were four days in the 90s in July, and 6 in August as the weather finally began to heat up. That's a total of 10 for the June-August period, less than half the normal count of 25 days of 90 or more.
Steve Zubrick, science and operations officer at the NWS Sterling forecast office, says 10 days of 90-degree weather for the three-month meteorological summer ties for the eighth fewst such days since record-keeping began in 1871. All of those summers with fewer 90-plus days were a long time ago.
Summers with just 10 days of 90-plus weather occurred in four other years: 1883, 1884, 1904 and 1907.
Summers with fewer such days:
Nine days: 1915
Eight days: 1886, 1889, 1917, 2004
Seven days: 1897, 2000.
The record for the number of 90-plus days in a Baltimore summer is 51 days, in 1988.
So we saved money on cooling, with cooling degree days ( a measure of demand for cooling energy) averaging almost 3.5 percent below the long-term average. Curiously, April had three days in the 90s, too, bringing the year's total to 13 so far.
We also recorded about 2.5 inches of surplus rain over the summer. June and August were wet, but July fell a half-inch short of the average. That all followed very wet weather in April and May, and all of it has left high water in all three of the city's reservoirs. The system is at 99.55 percent of capacity, according to the Baltimore Department of Public Works, which is extraordinary for the end of a summer that (so far) has not seen a tropical storm.
The rain totals for April through June totaled 19.74 inches, the second highest amount on record for those three months in Baltimore. The 120-year-old record is 21.69 inches, set in April-June 1889.
So, did this relatively cool, wet summer affect your outdoor activites? Is your garden out of control? Did the mosquitoes drive you crazy? Are we looking forward to cooler autumn weather? To snow? Let's hear it.