We only hear about the blistering highs at Death Valley, Calif. What is their highest overnight low? On the cold side, what is the site’s record low and lowest daytime maximum?
–Dale Kalina, Naperville
We asked retired Chicago weatherman Paul Kubecka, an expert on Death Valley climatology. The site’s record high of 134 on July 10, 1913, is well-known, but Kubecka filled us in on some lesser publicized records. Death Valley is one of the few places on this planet where low temperatures have remained above 100. Kubecka cited lows of 110 on July 5, 1918, and 105 on July 22, 1917, as two of the highest. Despite the scorching summers, it does get cold there in winter. Death Valley’s all-time record low of 15 was set Jan. 18, 1913, and the lowest maximum was achilly 38 recorded on Christmas Eve1990.
Latest forecast models now indicate the dry high pressure air mass will persist well into next week. Rain may hold off until next Friday. Accordingly, this weekend could be the sunniest in 2009 according to Chicago’s veteran weather observer Frank Wachowski. Frank says the sunniest weekend this year was back on March 14-15 when 100 percent and 91 percent sunshine was recorded at his station near Midway Airport. The only possible fly in the ointment could be early morning fog that may limit sunlight at the start of the day, otherwise we may well experience 100 percent sunshine both Saturday and Sunday.
Record heat along the West Coast and flooding in Texas
Friday was another hot day along the West Coast with several record highs including 93 degrees in Portland, 87 in Seattle, and 95 at Mt. Shasta, Calif. Jarrell, Texas, recorded 12.90 inches of rain with extensive flooding of roads reported in many areas of south-central Texas.
Was that beautiful full moon that I saw rising on Sept. 4 the Harvest Moon?
The Sept. 4 full moon was indeed beautiful, but it was not the Harvest Moon. It carried a variety of other names, among them the Fruit, Barley and Corn full moon. According to folklore, the Harvest Moon is defined as the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, the astronomical beginning of fall. However, this year the equinox occurs on Sept. 22, 18 days after the September full moon but only 12 days before the one on Oct. 4 which is designated the Harvest Moon. Having the Harvest Moon fall in October is a bit unusual and won’t happen again until 2017. The full moon following the Harvest Moon is traditionally called the Hunters’ Moon and will occur on Nov. 2.
If you thought this was a cool summer, you would be right. It has been cool not only for us here in Illinois and Indiana, but for most of the country. According to a new report from the National Weather Service, for only the second time this decade, the United States recorded a summer that was cooler than average. Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin were among several states that saw their tenth coldest summer on record. It was the 11th coolest summer for Illinois and the 13th coolest summer for Indiana.
The cool summer weather spilled over into fall. Yesterday’s 81 at O’Hare was the first time we hit 80 in 15 days going back to August 25th.
A high temperature of 81-degrees was registered at Chicago’s official observing site at O’Hare International Airport Thursday. This marked the first time since Aug. 25 that the thermometer reached or exceeded 80-degrees. The string of days failing to hit 80 degrees finally ended at 15—the city’s longest since a 28-day run between Aug. 24 and Sept. 20, 1885.
Sunny days will continue right through the weekend expanding on an already very sunny start to September, a marked contrast to the previous 6 months which all registered sub-normal sunshine tallies. Veteran weather observer, Frank Wachowski, who logs Chicago’s official sunshine data, tells us that the opening ten days this month have registered 79 percent of possible sunshine, well above the 62 percent considered normal and the 57 percent observed by this date a year ago.
Dry weather could end early next week
An upper air pattern change could be evolving which may bring Chicago it’s next chance for rain by this coming Tuesday or Wednesday. Low pressure passing to the south should spread cloudiness north into southern Wisconsin with Chicago possibly resting on the northern fringe of the associated rain area.