Summer of '09 burns toward records
Sunday was the first calendar day of summer but through Tuesday the U. S. Weather Service thermometer at KRXT-FM had already climbed to the century mark, or past, on 12 consecutive days.
That's more than halfway to Rockdale's record of 20, set in the all-time scorching summer of 1998.
(That's a somewhat deceptive comparison. The high on July 15, 1998, was 99. Had it been one degree more that summer would have logged 31 consecutive days of 100-degree highs.)
Rockdale eventually recorded 59 days of 100-plus in 1998 and 47 in 1980, the previous hottest summer until 1998 shattered all local heat wave records.
Sweating it out
Since the mercury first climbed to 102 on Friday, June 12, it's been at least 100 in Rockdale every afternoon.
Rockdale's highest June temperature ever recorded has been 109 on June 14, 1998.
An extreme dry spell has punctuated the triple-digit temperatures. No measurable rain has fallen since May 22-23 when 1.83 inches were recorded.
Summer, 2009, is already logging extreme heat with a high of 104 on Monday, also mimicking those two hottest years.
In 1998 five highs of 103 or greater were recorded, topping out at 109.
The 1980 total was seven days of 103 or greater with a high of 106.
But those still aren't close to a sweltering week at the end of the 2000 summer which saw the town record its five highest temperatures ever.
On Aug. 31, 2000, Rockdale tied its all-time high of 109. Highs the next five days were 110, 110, 108, 113 and 112.
The 113 reading for Sept. 4, 53 percent of the temperature needed to boil water, remains Rockdale's all-time high.
What remains to be seen in the summer of '09 is if early summer temperatures will be sustained all the way to September.
That's what happened in Rockdale's other two super-heated summers. In 1998 the mercury climbed to 98 or higher on 62 of 75 days.
In 1980 the heat started later— there wasn't a 100 degree reading until July—but highs were then 98 or higher for 63 of the next 69 days.