Heat, drought stay big story in Central Indiana

Friday, July 6, 2012

Putnam County, like all of central Indiana, is in the middle of an historic heat wave, the likes of which the area has not seen since the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s.

To make matters worse, the drought conditions in early July are currently worse for the local area than in early July 1934 or 1936. The only time that less rain has fallen in the period from May 1-July 4 came in the years 1988 and 1895.

With a high of 103 degrees on Thursday, Indiana broke the record of 99 set in 1936, while the high on Wednesday was 102 degrees.

Based on the latest forecasts, the Putnam County area is expected to experience two more 100-degree days before a cooling trend begins on Sunday and continues into early next week. That will bring the total number of 100-degree days to six this summer -- the most ever for so early in the year. Currently 1934 holds that distinction with four days for the June 1-July 7 period.

The expected four consecutive 100-degree days will only be the third such occurrence for the Indianapolis area for weather records dating back to 1871. The last occurrence was July 7-15, 1936 with a record nine consecutive days.

The only other time was six consecutive days from July 20-25, 1934. The six projected 100-degrees days for the year will eclipse the five that occurred in 1988 and would only behind the record 12 in 1936 and nine in 1934.

If you are like most of us, you really don't need to be told how hot and dry it has been in central Indiana this spring/summer. You only need to look outside to see your brown grass and steam coming up off the blacktop.

But using the theory that misery indeed loves company, the National Weather Service has announced official June figures for central Indiana. And they're not pretty.

Some of the hot and heavy facts for the heat wave and its impact on records in June include:

-- The record high monthly temperature for June at Indianapolis was broken on June 28 when the temperature at Indianapolis reached 104 degrees. The highest June temperature previously was 102 in 1988.

-- The June 28 of 104 temperature was the hottest temperature at Indianapolis in nearly 58 years. The last time the Indianapolis area reached 104 degrees was on July 14, 1954.

-- A record high for June 29 was established when the temperature reached 103 degrees.

-- This is the first time since 1934 that a June at Indianapolis has had at least two consecutive days of high temperatures in the triple digits. The only other time this happened in June was on three consecutive days from June 27-29,1934. Overall, the last back-to-back 100-degree days occurred July 8-9, 1988.

-- The record high temperature of 97 was tied on June 30. The record was originally set in 1913 and tied in 1933.

-- The number of 90-degree days in May and June was 15, the most for that time period since the Great Drought of 1988, which had 17. The record for May and June is 19 days set in 1934.

By comparison, the earliest the temperature has ever reached 100 degrees at Indianapolis was June 2, 1934. The all-time record high for Indianapolis for any month is 106 degrees. The last occurrence of 105- and 106-degree readings was on July 14, 1936.

As far as precipitation -- or the basically the lack of it -- goes, June 2012 is the driest June on record for the Indianapolis area with less than one-tenth of an inch of rain recorded over the 30 days.

The total precipitation for the month at the Indianapolis International Airport was 0.09 inches. Average precipitation for June is 4.25 inches. The old record was 0.36 inches set in June 1988.

June 2012 also became the second driest month on record for the Indianapolis area. The driest month on record is March 1910, with 0.07 inches.

Through June 30, there were 26 consecutive days without measurable precipitation at Indianapolis. This is a record for June and is the longest period without measurable precipitation since the 25-day stretch ending March 4, 1983. This is a relatively rare phenomenon for the Indianapolis area, occurring only 10 other times since records began in 1871.

The record number of consecutive days without measurable precipitation is 39 days, set from Aug.14 --Sept. 21, 1908.

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