County wilts in third-driest year on record

Now just a few cool and wet days into fall, if your recollection of the past summer was one of scorching hot temperatures and unusually dry conditions, then you’re right in sync with local weather-watchers.

According to Joe Ramey, the point person collecting climate information for the local office of the National Weather Service, 2012 has been the third-driest year on record in Mesa County, as of the end of August.

Just 2.56 inches of precipitation was collected in the first eight months of the year at the official observation site at Grand Junction Regional Airport. The recording period goes back 120 years.

In the summer months — June, July and August — 1.18 inches of that precipitation total was collected, which Ramey said means “we’ve had a pretty good monsoon.”

“June was very dry for us, but the monsoon season kind of kicked in on July Fourth more or less, and we’ve had hit-or-miss showers since then — we’ve been hit a few times,” Ramey said.

As for temperatures, the nation as a whole has seen truly unseasonable highs this summer. Last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that the summer of 2012 was the third-hottest on record for the lower 48 states.

According to NOAA’s National Climactic Data Center, the average temperature in the lower 48 between June and August was over 74 degrees, more than 2 degrees above the seasonal average.

Though Ramey couldn’t say precisely where this summer stands in terms of historical temperature data for Mesa County, his temperature data for the area mimics the national numbers.

June’s average temperature — measured by adding the high and low temperatures for the day, and then dividing by two — was 78 degrees. That was more than 6 degrees higher than normal for the month.

July’s average temperature of 80.1 was 1.9 degrees above normal, and August’s average temperature of 78.8 degrees was 3.3 degrees above normal.

The two hottest days of the year were recorded on June 29 and 30, when the mercury topped out at 102 degrees.


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This contradicts the average temperature as stated on my XCEL Energy bill each month. EXCEL said it was 1 degree cooler this year.

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