For Release July 27, 1999

If The Weather's Hot, It Must Be County Fair Week!

by Chuck Otte, Geary County Extension Agent

I wish I had a dollar for every time someone has come up to me and said, "Well, the County Fair's coming up, it's going to get hot now!" And often that is the general memory when people think about going to the fair. Here we are now, in the middle of fair week, and yes, we are having a warm one. On the one hand we should expect that, after all the last two weeks of July have historically been our hottest time of the year.

On the other hand though, the Geary County Fair has recently had a good history of nice weather. As you swelter at the fair the next couple of days think about this. The daily highs last year on the Monday through Friday of fair week were: 82, 85, 84 76 and 73. The last time that we had 90 degrees our higher during the Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday of fair week was in 1992 when the temperature hit 90 on the Wednesday of fair week. Am I surprised that we have warm temperatures this week? Not nearly as surprised as I am over the fact that we haven't had more warm weather in past years!

A comment over heard in a store this weekend sort of surprised me too. The comment was something to the effect of, "I can't believe how hot it's been!" I've often said that most people consider average weather to be what we had last year. I have the luxury of having a lot of weather data at my finger tips and being able to refer to it on a daily basis. Yes, the temperatures the past week or so have been a little above normal. Normal daily highs for the latter half of July are around 92 or 93 degrees. We would normally expect daily highs to start drifting back down in August as July is our hottest month.

The truth is that we've gotten pretty spoiled the past few years. The last July that had above normal temperatures was in 1991. That was the year that pretty much saw the end of a long hot dry spell that had started in about 1986. The Julys of 1983, 1986, 1987 and 1989 were all above normal, accentuating the differences between the 1980's and the 1990's. We will probably end the month just slightly above normal this year since the first half of the July was several degrees below normal.

A couple of things have made this recent heat wave seem nastier than the thermometer will acknowledge. The humidity has been fairly high. Is it abnormally high? Maybe a little but not too much. Remember, legend has it that the Smoky Hill River was named for that humidity haze that can happen in the summertime. The next factor has been the relatively low wind speeds. Even hot humid air is more tolerable when it is moving. When it's tough to find a steady breeze outside, it sends a lot of us heading for the air conditioning.

Air conditioning is another factor that makes a warm summer seem worse. Much more of the population is used to being inside in cooler, less humid air. If you go back 45 years to that nasty summer of 1954 it was a different story. Very few homes had air conditioning. July of 1954 had 19 days with daily highs of 100 or higher and another ten days of daily highs of 93 to 98. Only two days had highs below 90 and those were highs of 86 and 89. When we have another summer like that I think a lot of us are going to be hurting. There was also a four day stretch in July 1954, with daily highs of 112, 114, 114 and 114. Makes this July seem like a piece of cake, doesn't it.

Yes, this week is going to be warm, last week was warm, and next week may be warm. But it could be a lot worse! By the time the fair is over and tucked away for another year it'll be August and we'll be about 75 days away from the average first frost. With all these "cool" summers are we experiencing global warming? I think so, but that discussion will have to wait for another day!


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