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Thursday, July 30, 2015

August Traditionally Hot and Tropical

July is just about over. Although the official climatology report won't be released until the end of the month, it's safe to say that July was slightly warmer and drier than normal. In fact, there weren't any heat waves during the month, and there were just a pair of back-to-back 90+ degree days at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford. The month of August is knocking on the door, and it can be quite tropical.

You may recall that August of 2010 was much warmer than normal. We experienced a heat wave the last three days of the month, and the average monthly temperature (75.1 degrees) was less than one degree from the record of 76 degrees set in 1955. Nine years ago, we christened August with a heat wave when the first three days established record high temperatures of 95, 96, and 97 degrees, respectively, at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford.

Traditionally, August is the second warmest month of the year with a mean average temperature of 73.1 degrees, just behind July's average of 74 degrees, based on 40 years worth of data. The mercury has actually climbed to 100 degrees twice --- on August 9, 2001, and August 27, 1948. In fact, the daily record highs for the month never dip below 90 degrees. The warmest August on record (1955) featured two of the most potent rainstorms.

However, there are subtle signs that Summer is in decline over the next four weeks. The normal high temperature falls from 82 degrees on August 1 to 78 degrees by the end of the month. The overall mean temperature drops from 75 degrees to 70 by August 31. In fact, the record low temperature on August 29 is 44 degrees!

Daily sunshine continues to dwindle, too. We'll enjoy 14 hours and 21 minutes of daylight at the start of the month. But, by the last day of August, the Sun is out for 13 hours and nine minutes. We lose about an hour and a quarter of daylight over the next 31 days. In fact, sunrise occurs at 6:18 and sets at 7:27 by August 31. Remember, on the first day of Summer, the Sun set at 8:30.

As far as rainfall is concerned, the month averages about 3.75" of precipitation. The wettest August happened in 1952 when 13.29" of rain fell. There have been some drenching rains in August, including 4.66" on August 19, 1991, 4.01" on August 27, 2006, 3.99" on August 11, 2000, 3.92" on August 12, 1955, and 3.69" on August 21, 1952. Remember, we are in the heart of hurricane season, and tropical moisture is always a threat.

Long-time area residents will never forget August of 1955 when two of the most memorable hurricanes --- Connie and Diane --- battered the Northeast. Hurricane Connie soaked New England with torrential rains on August 13, 1955. Just five days later, Tropical Storm Diane followed suit creating massive flooding not seen since the 1930s.

The combination of Connie and Diane yielded rainfall totals close to 25 inches in some areas, resulting in unprecedented flooding. Nearly all of the major rivers in the lower Connecticut Valley exceeded flood stage. Some rivers rose more than 20 feet over their banks. There was tremendous destruction in the Naugatuck River Valley, especially in the city of Ansonia.

Summer officially reaches its halfway point early next week. And, the 'Dog Days of Summer' come to a close August 11. It's still Summertime, though. Daytime high temperatures will continue to climb well into the 80s and close to 90 degrees in some parts of the state through the upcoming weekend. Good-bye, July!