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article imageTexas drought and heat combine for hottest summer in US history

By Lynn Herrmann     Sep 9, 2011 in Environment
San Antonio - Texas has recorded the hottest summer in US history, with a daily average of 86.8 degrees from the June through August period, toppling a 77-year-old record set by Oklahoma in 1934, and the near-term forecast calls for more 100-degree days.
According to the National Weather Service, the month of July was the hottest month ever for the state and, combined with June and August, has scorched the state, drying up forage for wildlife and livestock and diminishing statewide water supplies.
The 86.8 daily average beat out Oklahoma’s previous record, set during the Dust Bowl in 1934 with an 85.2 average. The decades-old record is now third on the list, as Oklahoma came in a close second this summer, with a daily average of 86.5 degrees.
For Oklahoma, July was a miserable month as well, with an average of 89.1 degrees, the highest average ever in the US.
Average figures are based on a 24-hour daily cycle, not just daily highs.
As a result of the heat and prolonged drought in Texas, early estimates for crop and livestock losses are a staggering $5.2 billion, with the figure expected to rise. The US Drought Monitor, released this week, shows the entire state in the throes of the drought, with more than 80 percent in an exceptional drought, the most serious category.
The drought and heat have resulted in tinderbox conditions across the entire state, with wildfires torching over 3 million acres this fire season alone, which began last November.
Most recent are the Bastrop wildfires which became a firestorm over Labor Day weekend, scorching more than 30,000 acres and destroying 1,400 homes. Firefighters continue battling the fires, located east of Austin, which continue burning.
Tropical Storm Nate, located in the Gulf of Mexico’s Bay of Campeche, is expected to turn westward, heading into Mexico, but high winds could become a factor for the southern part of Texas in the next two days. Along with those winds, high heat is expected to return to the state, which has enjoyed high temperatures in the low-to-mid 90s this week, after a cool front moved through on Labor Day.
“We're forecasting for triple digits to come back next week, probably starting on Monday, with at least four or five days of 100-degree heat to continue through most of the week,” said Mark Lenz with the National Weather Service, MySA reports.
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