June-July weather city’s third hottest, driestBetween the extremely high temperatures and dry conditions, visions of carefree summer days outdoors have devolved quickly into misery.
By: Chris Huber, The Daily Republic
Brutal. That may be the best word to describe this summer’s weather in Mitchell. Between the extremely high temperatures and dry conditions, visions of carefree summer days outdoors have devolved quickly into misery. But it hasn’t quite been the hottest summer on record. Not yet, anyway. From the start of June through Tuesday, Mitchell experienced enough heat for this summer to qualify as the third hottest June 1 to July 24 stretch, with an average temperature of 77.9 degrees. The hottest average temperature over that stretch in Mitchell came in 1936, at 78.9 degrees.
Those numbers factor in all temperatures throughout the time period, including the overnight lows. When only the daily high temperatures are considered, this June 1 to July 24 stretch ranks fourth in city history with an average daily high of 90.8 degrees. The record was set in 1936 when the average high was 94.6.
“It’s a little scary, because we are seeing temperatures like they were in the Dust Bowl days,” said National Weather Service Meteorologist Mike Fuhs. “We are just hoping these kinds of temperatures don’t stick around as long as they did then.”
Tuesday’s 104-degree high marked the eighth time Mitchell reached triple digits so far in July. That is already double the number of triple- digit temperature days Mitchell experience in all of 2011.
The last time the high dipped below 90 in Mitchell was July 8, when thermometers reached 88 degrees. The last time the high temperature was below 80 was June 12.
Fortunately, the city is in for a reprieve as high temperatures are forecast to dip into the 80s Friday and Saturday.
For a mental reprieve, perspective might help. As hot as this summer has been, the summer of 1936 was worse. Ten of Mitchell’s daily high temperature records set in July of that year still stand as records today. Five of those records are 110 degrees or higher.
Between July 15 and 19 of 1936, five consecutive records were set when the high temperature never dipped below 107.
On July 5, 1936, South Dakota recorded its highest ever temperature when the mercury climbed to 120 degrees in Gann Valley. The lowest-ever temperature for the state had been set a few months earlier on Feb. 17, when it dipped to 58 below in McIntosh.
To go with the high temperatures this year, Mitchell has had little relief in the way of rainfall.
The paltry 0.13 inch of July precipitation Mitchell had through Wednesday morning was well off the 3.11-inch historical monthly average.
In June, Mitchell felt short of the historical average by more than 2.5 inches when it only received 1.61 inches.
In total, the 1.74 inches from June 1 through Tuesday is Mitchell’s third driest stretch over those dates.
The driest such stretch was in 1988, when Mitchell received only 1.41 inches.
Despite the recent dry spell, Mitchell’s total precipitation since the start of the calendar year is actually outpacing the historical average.
Mitchell had received 16.79 inches of precipitation through Wednesday morning so far in 2012. The historical average for that point on the calendar is 13.31 inches.
Both figures are from the National Weather Service.
“That data seems a bit skewed,” Fuhs said. “We had some rains in late winter and then a really heavy storm in May that makes the numbers look as though we are in better shape than what we really are.”
Seven of those nearly 17 inches of precipitation so far this year came in the month of May, with about 3.5 inches falling during heavy rains May 4 and 5.
February also outpaced its monthly precipitation average when 2.56 inches fell, which was more than 2 inches above average.
The last significant rainfall in Mitchell — prior to anything that may have fallen as this edition went to press — came June 20 when the city received 0.62 inches.