It was another hot one today, 106 °F and tomorrow’s forecast is even hotter, 110 °F. This is the fourth consecutive record-setting day in a row and the seventh since this heat wave began last week. I spent the day scurrying from one air-conditioned environment to another. I’ve taken to gulping one last cool breath before going outside, because that first hot breath always tickles my nose hairs. I had to go to Saint Chuck, so there was more scurrying today than originally planned. Stepping into a black car that has been sitting out on a shadeless parking lot is now a race. Foot on brake, I start the car, roll down the windows, as the fan cycles up to speed, switch the air conditioning from recirculation to outside air, buckle the seat belt, release the parking brake, put the car in drive and get moving to get more air circulation. Once the car has cooled close enough to the ambient temperature, I roll up the windows and switch back to recirculation. My race to cool down the car now enters a waiting game, as time crawls and the car’s air conditioning takes effect. This process usually finishes about the time that I reach my destination.
2012 has been a hot year, not only here in Saint Louis, but also nationally. In fact from this day in July to the same day last year, the national ratio of record highs to record lows has been running six-to-one. This is according to the National Weather Service. This means that in the last twelve months, six times more record highs have been set than record lows. Is this a clear sign of global warning? Not if you look six months further into the past, the first half of 2011. That six month period shows a near even ratio of record highs and lows. So is this weather another sign of climate change or just a hotter than normal Saint Louis July? I’ll let the readers decide for themselves, but remember this is Saint Louis and we’re not exactly known for our pleasant summer weather. When we first moved here, the old hands would warn, “Just wait until August.” They were just pulling my leg, because I have a chart that catalogues the record of Saint Louis temperatures. It catalogues both the record highs and lows for every day, but also their averages and standard deviations. It is a bit out of date, because it was published in 1995, but it predicts that late July is the hottest time of the year here in Saint Louis. The other thing that the old hands would say was, “If the weather was nice all year-long, we couldn’t afford to live here.”