it’s been hot

Yes, indeed, it’s been hot this past few weeks. Hot and humid. Enough so, that Sabrina has been spending a lot of time sleeping on the tile floor of the kitchen by the basement door — a spot she rarely occupies except during the dog days of summer. This year, those days appear to have arrived ahead of schedule. I’m beginning to wonder what July and August have in store for us.

Anyhow, that got me to wondering if this June was hotter than those I remember from the past. Surely they weren’t *all* this warm — or were they? I decided to use the Environment Canada Weather Office’s Canadian Climate Data website to build some temperature charts so that I could compare this June to a bunch from the past. I chose to go with Junes from 1940, 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, and 2007. After creating a bunch of charts, I pasted them all together in one long row so that I could compare them more easily. There’s a thumbnail of this graphic below. If you want to see a modest sized version of it, click here or on the thumbnail, or if you want to see a larger version (approx. 475kb), click here. You’ll have to scroll across your screen to see the whole graphic of the larger versions.

On these charts, the line that I’m most interested in is the red line. That one represents the maxiumum temperature each day (usually achieved sometime by early afternoon). As indicated on the chart, the purple line represents the extreme maximum temperature for each day between 1938 and 2006. The green line is “normal maximum” for each date.

Now, these charts are all marked in Celsius, and some of you may not be entirely conversant with that, so I provide the following conversions to Fahrenheit. 35=95, 30=86, 25=77, 20=68, 15=59, 10=50, 5=41, 0=32.

As you can see from the above chart, in June, we’ve had daytime maximum temperatures over 25 (77) fairly steadily for much of the month. Near as I can tell, it looks like we’ve even peaked over 30 (86) on seven days this month, and we almost made it to 35 (95) twice in the last two days. In looking at the climate charts in my graphic, I’d say that’s a little unusual. Most years, we may have hit 30 once or twice in a month. Further to all of this, we’ve been riding along on the upside of that green “normal maximum” line for a good part of the month. The chart doesn’t reflect humidity, but it’s been high too — unpleasantly so at times. The other thing that isn’t reflected on this chart is how long the heat seems to be hanging on each day. We’ve been noticing that, even after the sun is well down, the air temperature is still quite hot. That also seems rather unusual. I haven’t yet looked at daily temperature charts to see if I’m just imagining that, but I’ll get to that sooner or later. I’ll also try to follow up on this post with future posts comparing temperatures throughout the seasons.

From a naturalist’s point of view, what is the impact of these high June temperatures? These are just a few that I’ve noticed. Pasture grasses are very tall this year due to a combination of quite a bit of rain and these very hot days. Other vegetation seems to have gone absolutely wild. The tomato plants in our garden are outrageously tall, and squash leaves are huge for the end of June. I’ll be posting some photos from my little vegetable garden in the next few days and that will help to show you what I mean. Insect activity in mid-day seems to be very depressed by the heat, with the exception of the butterflies who always seem to delight in soaring over the meadows in the scorching sunlight. Meanwhile, other insects are hidden away beneath the plant leaves and only creep out in the morning and evening. Grasshoppers seem to be very abundant this year, as are the stinkbugs. However, I’m not seeing too many wasps, bees, or hornets. The main pollinators I’ve been seeing are the many hover flies and the like. Moths seem to be abundant. The Gray Treefrogs seem plentiful too. All of the new trees that we planted are doing well. I just walked around checking on them this morning and I suppose we couldn’t have asked for better weather for transplanted seedlings.

That’s about it for my weather observations. They’re probably not of interest to that many of you. However, I think it’s good to compare weather and also try to tie it to nature observation as one really is dependent on the other.

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8 Responses to “it’s been hot”

  1. Wayne Says:

    That’s an interesting analysis, Bev. Scanning across the decadal selections shows what 2007 is like compared to quite a few times in the past.

    It’s interesting about the precipitation you’re getting, sounds practically semi-tropical, and thoroughly unpleasant humidity wise.

    Doubtless someone will come along, take a glance at what you’ve done, and dismiss it as a part of a cycle. That really rots my socks, and thanks for that phrase. They’ll trot out that cheap rejoinder out with no intention of presenting you with the cycle to which they are referring. And they’ll give no indication of how they’d defend that that mythical cycle must now last for centuries, and not decades if they are to argue that it exists. Which of course they won’t do.

    I’m still trying to think of how to quantify extremes. Yours is one, both in terms of temperature and precipitation. Ours is another in terms of lack of rain over the last decade (though it just keeps getting worse and worse).

    One way is how we’ve both chosen to do it – count the number of days in a period when there are extremes above or below the average. I’ve been kind enough to choose as the average all the data to the present, but it strikes me that I should be choosing 1970-2000, the current 30-year period against which things are being compared.

    It will be interesting to see how the rest of the summer develops. Of course *then* it will be interesting to see how the subsequent autumn and winter develops!

  2. firefly Says:

    Well, this isn’t intended to negate the post, or the observation that it’s hot this year (it’s been cool-ish but dry as dust here in Portland, Maine so far compared to last year, when we got 17 inches of rain in 6 weeks between May 1-June 15), but I was under the impression that there is an El Nino either building or resident in the Pacific.

    I don’t have temperature or precipitation charts, but I clearly remember the last pronounced El Nino year, in 1997, when we had quite a few days in the high 90s with low humidity and very little rainfall. I had a container garden at the time and I had to water every day. (It might be interesting, Bev, if you compared temperatures for 1997 and 2007 to see if there are parallels.)

    This year seems very similar to 1997 in terms of rainfall, and we just had our first ugly heat wave with three days in the mid-90s but lower than usual humidity. I’m interested in this post because I was wondering if anyone else in this zone (USDA Zone 5) had noticed significant differences parallel to 1997 in rainfall or temperature.

    I had made a mental prediction of a hot dry summer, but it would be nice if someone else noticed and I could be sure I wasn’t just confirming my own impressions.

    The past 2 springs were extremely rainy and humid enough to curl the covers on paperback books (and swell the front door shut for 2 months).

    This year I am having to soak the garden every 3 or 4 days, especially since I’m in startup mode, having planted several areas intended as habitat over the past 2 years.

    I’m kind of glad I didn’t go ahead with a rain barrel this year — it wouldn’t have done any good.

  3. bev Says:

    Wayne – With the precipitation it does feel semi-tropical. The vegetation is certainly behaving as though it were. Quite a switch from a few very dry, hot summers since 2000. I’m also trying to find a good way to quantify temperatures and precipitation. I’m most interested in recording extremes, as they do have an impact on the environment and on all living things. For example, I’m not sure of the year, but back about 19 years ago, we had a very hot summer here. We kept chickens at that time. Don was in the hospital and I was trying to juggle going back and forth to the city and looking after everything here. At one point, we got a ridiculous heat wave and it actually killed off a lot of our chickens even though they were in a shaded pen outdoors, had water, etc… It was just too much for some of them one afternoon and evening when the temperature rose relentlessly. I can see having the odd peak like this, but if they become more frequent, how do we explain such things. And how do we explain things like poor freeze-up on the rivers up here — increasing in recent years. That’s were all of the data and the phenological observations become useful as we try to understand just what’s going on.

    firefly – I have, indeed, been comparing 1997 and 1998 to the weather we’ve had this past few months. January ’98 was the year of the ice storm here (you would have experienced that to, I believe). We had an ice storm this January as well — after a very strange autumn in which winter never seemed to arrive until February. Autumn 97 was also odd. I happened to be out on the west coast in the SF area, and it was blazing hot in October. I flew home around Oct. 25 to find snow banks along the airport runways, and it never really went away and then we were hit with the ice storm in January. Anyhow, yes, I’ve been looking at the weather and trying to relate such things as the El Nino. Sometimes it agrees, and sometimes it doesn’t, so that doesn’t seem to tell the whole story either. Good to keep records though and try to be observant to what’s going on around us.

  4. Ruth Says:

    Our newspaper reported today that our rainfall the last 3 months is 50% of normal here in our part of SW Ontario. We have had record hot temperatures too with lots of smog days and things are very parched. We are on the verge of even more severe water restrictions. We need more rain than scattered thunderstorms!

  5. Cathy Says:

    I’m just hoping that the cooling that’s broken the 90’+ temps here on the east coast have given sweet Sabrina a reason to leave the kitchen.

    This is all so interesting, Bev. And I find the fact of you patiently recording and aligning the data and making garden and field observations – comforting. Reasoned analysis is the path to sorting things out.

  6. bev Says:

    Ruth – I’ve noticed some of the smog days in parts of Ontario, and from what I recall, some of them were for very early in the season. I think that’s one of those indicators that we should be taking a better look at when discussing climate and weather.

    Cathy – Yes, we’re finally getting a break from the heat and humidity. It was very unpleasant earlier this week. Sabrina is back to wanting to go for a couple of walks a day, so that’s always a sure sign that the weather agrees with her.

  7. celeste Says:

    HI! Here in my chunk of Oregon, it “feels” normal. In fact even more “normal” going back to my childhood with a grey rainy June. I found it interesting that 125 years ago the Willamette River would freeze solid in the winter, enough for folks to drive their wagons across. I can only imagine how that would snarl things up these days!!

  8. Daniel Says:

    I have to say, that I could not agree with you in 100% regarding s been hot, but it’s just my opinion, which could be wrong :)