As if we really needed any more proof that it's been insufferably hot outside, July 2011 has cemented its place among the hottest Hoosier months ever.
That's understandable, of course, since the temperature has topped 90 degrees every single day of the 2011 Putnam County Fair. That may well be a first for the annual summer extravaganza.
If temperatures the next two days are anywhere close to predictions, July 2011 will go down in history as the hottest month in 75 years -- or since July 1936 -- and will rank among the four hottest months since weather recordkeeping began in 1871.
Meanwhile, with a high of 93 degrees on Friday, it marked the 13th straight day the mercury has topped the 90-degree mark (punctuated by a rare 100 on July 21). Indianapolis meteorologists are also predicting 90 or higher temperatures clear through the first week of August.
If that occurs, it will mean another record for the sweltering summer of 2011. Presently the record for consecutive days of 90-degree temperatures or better is 19, set in the historic summer of 1936.
That was the Joe DiMaggio of hot summers.
DiMaggio, you probably know, was on a hot streak of his own in 1941 when he established one of baseball's all-time great records by hitting safely in 56 straight games. Then after just one hitless night, DiMaggio connected safely in another 16 straight, giving him an incredible 72 of 73 stretch.
The summer of 1936, but for a little luck, might have had 34 straight days of 90-plus temperatures.
That's because the 19 days of 90s logged that legendary July were followed by a brief respite and then another 15 straight 90s that August.
While Indiana typically averages 18 days of 90 degrees or more each year, 2011 has already racked up 24 such days. That, however, is a far cry from the record of 58 days set in 1983 (in case you're wondering, 1936 produced 55 overall 90-degree days).
During that summer of 1936, the Midwest and much of the nation was in the middle of the epic Dust Bowl. The similarities haven't been lost on those keeping an eye on 2011.
This summer, an upper air ridge has prevailed over the central United States as a result of severe to exceptional drought conditions in much of New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma. Not only has this ridge contributed to the heat wave, but it has also deflected storms from much of central Indiana during July.
As of the Friday, the Indianapolis Airport had received only 0.33 inches of rain, which is nearly four inches below the normal monthly rainfall for July.
Depending on the amount of rainfall received through Saturday night, July 2011 may also go down in history as one of the driest months of record. If less than .15 inches of rain is recorded at the airport, it will be the driest July on record.
That mark is currently owned by 1914, when only .49 inches of rain fell during July.
Of course, those records are kept in Indianapolis, and longtime Putnam County residents would point to 1988 as the driest of the dry.
Less than a quarter-inch of rain was recorded locally that July (Indianapolis received nearly an inch in one isolated storm that passed Putnam by) when water levels were dangerously low and a moratorium was issued on lawn sprinkling that summer. But 1988 does not even show up in the top 10 driest Julys in National Weather Service records.