Lots of gardeners across the country would probably answer with a resounding "Yes!" given the extreme heat in many areas this past summer. And the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has the figures to back them up. According to their National Climatic Data Center, July temperatures in the central and eastern sections of the country broke long-standing daily and monthly records. The hot weather only exacerbated the effects of drought conditions that are as dry as or drier than those of historic droughts of the 1930's and 1950's.
July was the warmest month ever on record in Texas and Oklahoma. In fact, Oklahoma's 88.9 degree F average temperature for the month was the warmest monthly statewide average temperature on record for any state during any month! Overall, this was the fourth warmest July on record in the United States.
Was this summer an indication of what climate change might have in store for the future? While all this heat may be due to normal, if unpleasant, fluctuations in the weather, the statistics are sobering. Forty-one of the Lower 48 states had July temperatures that were above normal, even record setting. One aspect of the heat wave was unusually warm low temperatures at night and in early morning. This pattern has become more typical of heat waves in the last decade and mirrors the increasingly warm night temperatures that have been noted since the last part of the 20th century.
Article published on August 29, 2011.