Eager for August after valley’s typical hot July

A couple of weeks ago, Kathy and I left Jackson Hole, Wyo., about 8 in the morning. The temperature was a brisk 46 degrees. Eight hours later we pulled into our driveway. The temperature was 102 degrees.

That’s the problem with good ol’ River City. July.

I know, how is it possible to not adore summer? There’s July 4, after all. And the beginning of the smorgasbord of fresh fruits and vegetables. All true, and I like fireworks, patriotic music, Olathe Sweet and ripe tomatoes as much as the next guy. But the heat I can do without.

Give me the cold of January over 100-degree days. Take away the Independence Day and some good food and there’s nothing left to like about the month named after Julius Caesar. To the contrary, the best thing one can say about July, as far as I’m concerned, is that at least now we can look forward to nothing but cooler temperatures for the next 11 months.

There are many ways one can tell it’s July in Mesa County other than consulting a calendar. There are tell-tale signs, and peculiar activities, that signal it’s the hottest month of the year:

✓A sure sign is people constantly looking to the west, over the Monument. On good days, the sky will be filled with ominous clouds, puffy cumulonimbus behemoths that hold the promise of relief. Occasionally they do what they are intended to do and roll over the valley spilling torrents of cooling rain, wind and deafening thunder. More often than not, though, they’re nothing more than the meteorological equivalent of the high school tease. We simply look to the west, watch the dark clouds that never quite get here and wonder what could be.

✓ Another sign is the line at the drive-through at Dairy Queen at Seventh and North. Does it snake all the way around the north side of the building? If so, there’s a good chance it’s July.

✓ Is everyone just a little grumpier than usual? Or, in my case, according to my wife, a lot grumpier than usual. It must be July.

✓ Have the lush lawns of May and early June given way to dull green and brown. Is the grass crunchy under your bare feet? It’s July.

✓ Did you ever drive to the Mesa, just because it is covered in clouds, and you know it’s a good 25 degrees cooler just an hour’s drive away? If you’re lucky you might even run into a cool shower. You’ve done that? It was July.

✓ Do you retreat to your air-conditioned den after work instead of the deck? It’s July.

✓ Ever have a thunderstorm wake you in the middle of the night and then sit on the porch at 3 a.m. to watch it? If you did, it was probably July.

✓ And of course in even-numbered years — that’s when elections are held — you can tell it’s July because between 6 and 8 every evening you receive robo calls from annoying politicians. (Sorry, I think those last two words are redundant.)

As July goes, 2010 was painful. Every July is. But it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. In fact, only on eight days did the thermometer climb to 100 or above. And not one single record high temperature was posted in Grand Junction this year in July. It’s small consolation, I know. After all, what is the practical difference between 104 and 105? They are equally miserable.

Here’s the good news. When you read this, July 2010 will be history. The average high temperature for July in Mesa County is 92. (I know, it seems low, but weather.com swears it’s correct.) Things get a little more comfortable this month. Not much. But the average high for August drops to 90, and then, come September, the number plummets to 80.

You might still be cursing the heat. I am. But relief isn’t far away.

In the meantime I’ll see you in the line at Dairy Queen.

Denny Herzog is the retired executive editor of The Daily Sentinel. E-mail him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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