Temperatures bear out long, hot summer


Attention, warm weather whiners and wimps: This summer was every bit as bad as you thought.

June, July and August were, on average, the hottest ever recorded at the Custom House in Baltimore and tied the record set in 1988 at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, the National Weather Service said yesterday.

The average temperature at the Custom House for June, July and August was 81.5 degrees -- one-tenth of a degree warmer than the sweltering summer of 1988. The temperature averaged 77.3 degrees at the airport, matching the record set in 1988.

August marked the 11th straight month of above average PTC temperatures, said Ken Shaver, a forecaster with the National Weather Service at BWI, who called the long stretch "very unusual."

He attributed the higher than normal temperatures to an elusive jet stream -- the one that dipped down from Canada yesterday with deliciously cool, sunny weather and is expected to bring similar relief today.

The jet stream clung to the Canadian border for most of June, July and August, denying its fresh breezes to those sweating further south.

All summer, farmers and gardeners struggled to keep their crops and flowers from withering in the heat.

Rain was scarce, Mr. Shaver said. Only 5.38 inches of rain fell at the airport during June, July and August -- less than half the normal rainfall of 12.27 inches.

Last month, farmers in 18 parched Maryland counties became eligible for federal aid as the U.S. Department of Agriculture designated much of the state a drought disaster area. In some counties, between 50 percent and 60 percent of Maryland's corn and soybean crops were destroyed by the drought, a devastating blow to farmers.

But in some ways 1991 was a less brutal summer than 1988, Mr. Shaver said. That year, the temperature reached 100 degrees 13 days in the city and seven in the suburbs. This year, the city suffered through six 100-degree days, and the suburbs escaped with only two.

This summer also won't set any records for the largest number of 90-degree days. There were 56 in the city in 1991 compared to 63 in 1988, and 49 at the airport this year compared to 54 in 1988.

The consistency of the heat was what set 1991 apart, giving weather wimps and whiners something to moan about almost any time they ventured outside.

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