I’ve mentioned before that meteorologists consider the full months of June, July and August to be the summer season. I guess that means summer is over and it is now fall. It certainly felt like fall last Friday and Saturday. The older I get the longer winter seems to last and the summers go by more quickly. It seemed like a warm and humid summer this year so let’s take a look at the numbers.
According to the National Weather Service, this was the fourth warmest summer of record in Grand Rapids. It was warmer in 1921, 1901 and 1933. In Muskegon, it was the warmest summer of record. What is amazing is that there were no record high temperatures set across the area.
Grand Rapids had eight days with highs of 90 degrees or more. The average is nine. The highest summer temperature was just 93 degrees. In the hot summer of 1988, the last time it hit 100 degrees, there were 37 days with highs of 90 or higher and 14 days with highs of 95 degrees or higher.
What made this summer so warm were the warm nights caused by high humidity. The warm nights produced some of the tallest corn I have ever seen. Grand Rapids had 20 days with lows of 70 degrees or higher, which is tied with 1921 for the greatest number of summer days with lows of 70’s degrees or warmer. There were very few cool Canadian air masses this summer to give us cool nights and beautiful blue skies during the daytimes.
At least it was sunny. We received 71 percent of possible sunshine. Out of the 102 days between June 1 and August 31, there were only 12 cloudy days. There was measurable rain on just four days in August.
How did the rest of the country turn out? Here is a map showing temperature departures from average across the U.S. for the summer season.
You can see that from the Central Plains to the East Coast, this was a hot summer, especially just south of the Ohio River where some of the heaviest snow fell last winter. It was the warmest June & July of record in Washington D. C. and Richmond, Virginia. The 18 consecutive days of 100 degrees or higher in Dallas was impressive but the record is 42 days set in 1980.
Montana and the West Coast had a very cool summer. This was the coolest summer since 1948 in Los Angeles and 1944 in Santa Barbara, California. The average high temperature for the three summer months in Los Angeles was just 70.3 degrees, the lowest of record.
In San Diego, there were only 10 days between March 30 and August 31 with above average temperatures. The warmest temperature for the year through the end of August was just 82 degrees. In July, there were only 8 days when the temperature climbed higher than 70 degrees.
This has been the kind of West Coast summer that supposedly prompted Mark Twain to say “the coldest winter I ever experienced was one summer in San Francisco”. However, the real author of this quote is unknown.
Craig James has been retired since July 1, 2008, after 40 years of broadcasting television weather. He was chief meteorologist at WZZM-TV for 12 years and chief meteorologist at WOOD-TV for 24 years. He is a graduate of Penn State University, where he received a Centennial Fellowship Award. He was also honored as a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society.