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July 31, 2012

Heat pushes toward Clinton records

July 2012 is set to be second-hottest ever

CLINTON — July 2012 is poised to be the second hottest in the Clinton area, rivaling a year widely regarded as the worst drought year in Iowa history.

Only in 1936, the year in which many of Iowa’s extreme weather records were set, did people experience a hotter July.

“We haven’t had a lot of really hot Julys recently for the most part,” State Climatologist Harry Hillaker said.

With the exception of this July, last July and the July of 1983, the rest of the top ten state records were generally set more than 50 years ago, Hillaker said.

The average temperature for the Clinton area this July is 81.4 degrees, only half a degree shy of the 1936 record of 81.9 degrees, according to Clinton area weather observer Jim Blaess.

Temperatures should normally only be an average of 74.8 degrees in July, Blaess said.

Hillaker said statewide, this July will likely go down as the third hottest following 1936 when temperatures averaged 83.2 degrees and 1901 when they averaged 82.2 degrees.

The statewide temperature for July this year was 79.9 degrees, 6.3 degrees higher than the normal for the month.

This summer is also remarkable for the number of gruelingly hot days it carried. Clinton area residents experienced 19 days above 90 degrees including five that hit 100 degrees plus in July alone. Since May, there have been 30 days when temperatures reached 90 degrees or above.  The average from May to September is 15 days.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, continuous high temperatures not only contribute to heat-related illness, but food-related illness such as salmonella, caused by improper food handling, as well. The IDPH warns illness causing bacteria can grow on food within an hour in summer heat.  

The hot temperatures have also caused this July to be devastatingly dry.  

“Those higher temperatures make quite a difference evaporation wise.  Those really hot days are really stressful to every type of vegetation,” Hillaker said.

This July will be the fifth dryest in Iowa history and second dryest for the Clinton County area.

“It took every bit of moisture out of the ground,” Blaess said.

Without the moisture, there is no evaporation, which is one of the key ingredients for rainfall, Blaess said.

Clinton County was declared a disaster area by the USDA because of the drought conditions, which is predicted to have a noticeable effect on food prices. According to the USDA, consumers will see a 3- to 4-percent increase on milk, egg, beef, poultry and pork prices next year because of the increased cost for feed.  

August promises little relief.  While August temperatures will not surpass the scorching July heat, it will still be an above average month.

“Unfortunately, chances are it’s going to be a hotter month, probably a drier one as well,” Hillaker said.

With temperatures expected to remain above average, it also doesn’t appear rainfall totals will catch up to annual averages.  So far this year the Clinton area has had only 13.65 inches of rainfall, 6.31 inches less than the average of 19.96 inches.  

By the end of August the Clinton area will need to receive a lofty 10.92 inches to reach the average 24.57 inches expected by that time in the year.

“That’s going to be pretty hard to,” Blaess said.

While Blaess said August through October are expected to be warmer and drier than usual months, some relief could come in September.

“Looking back at unusual years, we’re typically back to normal temperatures by September,” Hillaker said.

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