Whenever I’ve said this summer that it seems hotter than ever before, someone invariably has responded that it just feels that way because I’m getting older. Or, they’ll recall a summer in the past when, “It was so hot, (enter your own version here).” So it was with a sense of some relief and reassurance that I read a report from the University of Georgia that 2010 was indeed the hottest summer on record in many locations.
For June, July and August, several locations in Georgia, according to the state’s climatologist, recorded their warmest summer in history, including Savannah, Athens, Columbus and Alma. Other locations, like Atlanta, Macon, Augusta and Brunswick, recorded their second or third hottest summer ever. Also, nighttime minimum temperatures were especially high, contributing to the misery of the season. There are also reports from here in Alabama that many locations broke the record for consecutive 90-plus and 100-degree days. There certainly have been worse years in terms of drought, as Georgia reports that rainfall was more variable than usual, with some areas receiving more than 200 percent of normal while other areas received less than 50 percent of normal rainfall.
Of course, my assumptions of it being the hottest summer ever were not based on any scientific measurements, just observations. For the first time I can remember, ivy and other groundcovers around the house literally burned, along with a portion of my front lawn. And while summer field days in the lower Southeast can always be a challenge, there were a few this year that seemed particularly unbearable. My most reliable barometer – long-time farmers – also confirmed the fact.
What’s in store in terms of weather for the near future? No less an authority than the just-published 2011 Farmer’s Almanac says that overall, it’ll be a “kinder, gentler” winter over most of the United States. But the Eastern third of the country – including much of the Southeast – will experience colder-than-normal temperatures and “copious” amounts of rainfall from three storm tracks. We’ll see soon enough.