Monday, July 11, 2011

When Will It End?

For much of East Texas June was the hottest June on record and July is starting off much the same way. If the forecast high temperatures are reached today across East Texas it will make the 14th straight day that Tyler as hit or surpassed 100°F. This is the second longest stretch of 100°F plus days on record. The longest on record is 16 days in 1980. Today would be the 12th straight day of 100°F heat in Longview, the longest stretch on record. So why has it been so hot?

Well, if you can think back to April when we first started to see the mercury hit the 90°F mark, we began to mention if we do not see a significant amount of rain we were in for a very hot summer. The reason for this is because of how dry our soil is here in East Texas. As the sun shines down on the Earth’s surface, much of its energy is used to evaporate soil moisture causing the ground to remain relatively cool. This year we have seen soil moisture extremely low across East Texas. When this happens all of the sun’s energy can be used to heat the ground which in turn heats the air. The hotter the soil temperature, the hotter the air will become. For the majority of East Texas the soil moisture is less than 5% of what it normally should be for this time of the year. On Saturday the 10th the soil moisture for much of East Texas was actually less than 1% of what we normally see. (The dark red shading across the southern 2/3rds of East Texas indicate less than 1% of normal soil moisture)

This is not good for the hopes of seeing cooler temperatures anytime soon. Even if we are able to see afternoon and evening thunderstorms develop, the amount of aerial coverage will not be enough to cause an increase in soil moisture to bring temperatures back to a normal level. East Texas’ climate this year is becoming more like what you would find across west Texas where dry soil leads to 100°F quite often. The only real hope we have of seeing a significant increase in soil moisture is if a tropical system moves into our area bringing widespread 3 to 5 inches of rain.

Hopefully this will happen. The Atlantic Hurricane seasonal forecast is above normal this year. Of course we do not need a tropical storm or hurricane to cause a significant amount of damage to the area. What we need is a tropical depression to move into the area and stay for a day or two providing widespread heavy rain. This would give us the average amount of soil moisture we usually see giving us average temperatures instead of well above temperatures. If we do not see this we may set all time record high temperatures across East Texas this summer. In Tyler we hit 105°F in June tying the all time record for the month. The all time record high for Tyler is 111°F and for Longview is 113°F. As many tell me, “This is summer in East Texas. It’s supposed to be hot!” Well not this hot. But don’t worry. We are only 91 days away from our average highs being in the upper 70s, and it can’t get here soon enough.

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