Where did this weather come from?

Posted Tuesday, Jul. 16, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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More information July records 74 July 15, 2013, record for this date 79 July 15, 1900, previous record low high 71 July 4, 1924, record low for entire month Days below 75 in July July 9, 1905; July 11, 1945— 73 July 22, 1944; July 31, 1925; July 15, 2013 — 74 In North Texas, average high for July 15 — 96 In Portland, Maine, average high for July 15 — 79

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Portland, Maine, and the Dallas-Fort Worth area are rarely mentioned in the same sentence.

But they are today because there’s been a strange role reversal.

Monday’s high in North Texas of only 74 shattered the 113-year-old record of 79 as the coolest high temperature on July 15. In fact, Monday was only one of five days in recorded weather service history that the July high has been below 75 degrees.

In Portland, dubbed America’s Foodiest Small Town in 2009 by Bon Appetit magazine, the average high temperature this time of year is 79. But on Monday, Portland topped out at 91, just shy of the record of 92 set in 1957.

It didn’t take much prodding to convince Maine residents that the weather had traded places for a few days.

“Please give it back,” joked Ruth Henry, a bookkeeper at the Maine Diner in Wells, Maine, about 30 miles southeast of Portland. “It definitely feels hot to me.”

Maine isn’t alone.

Much of the Northeast, including New York City, was baking under an excessive heat advisory, while Philadelphia was under an excessive heat warning that is expected to last until Wednesday.

But down here in North Texas, the record book will show a high for the day of 74 at DFW Airport, well below the previous record of 79 set on July 15, 1900.

That follows Sunday’s high of 81 that tied the record for the coolest high temperature on that date set on July 14, 1989.

In North Texas, the average high for July 15 is 96.

“Bring it on”

What brought these strange circumstances together?

A high pressure system in the Northeast, which brought the heat to that region, also helped propel the unusual southwestward movement of an upper level-low pressure system that brought the rain and cool temperatures to Texas.

“In the summertime, I cannot recall an instance where that has happened,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Jennifer Dunn.

The weather system even prompted flash flood watches across parts of North, Central and West Texas on Monday. Near San Angelo in Concho County, a flood advisory was issued for a part of the state that has been hit hard by drought.

In West Texas, the prospect of potential deluges had everyone crossing their fingers.

“They’re saying ‘bring it on’,” said Don Heller of Ag Crop Insurance in Stamford. “We don’t have the sub-moisture to survive August when we usually don’t get any rain. Not only do the farmers need it but our lakes are horrible right now.”

In New Mexico, Dona Ana, Otero, Luna, Sierra, Grant and Hidaldgo counties were all under the same flash flood watch as West Texas.

The storm’s reach is expected to extend into Arizona and even southern Colorado.

The last time the DFW area saw a similar July cool spell was in 2007 when there was a string of 80-degree days, Dunn said.

We’re quicker to remember triple-digit July temperatures, such as 2011, one of the hottest summers on record. On July 15 that year, the high was 105.

But highs in the 70s during July is not unheard of, said Jason Dunn, another weather service meteorologist.

“For the period of record, which goes back to 1899, there have been a total of 36 times in which the high was 79 degrees or less,” he said. “July 1905 had four of them.”

The all-time record low high temperature in July is 71 on July 4, 1924, according to the weather service.

This “cool” spell will stick around until Friday when high temperatures are expected to reach 96, the average high for mid-July.

But Jennifer Dunn said any break is worth celebrating.

“We’ll be below normal for almost the entire week,” she said. “You’ll always take that this time of year.”

Beach season

The official rain totals at DFW Airport Sunday and Monday were 0.35 and 0.51, respectively.

Just to the south of Dallas-Fort Worth, far more rain fell. Both Waco and Hico had more than 4 inches of rain over the two-day period.

Maine residents have found one positive benefit to their heat wave.

“Everyone is going to the beach, and up here beach season is pretty short,” said Jim MacNeill, manager of the Maine Diner.

At the diner, the heat hasn’t stopped customers for ordering the diner’s signature dishes of lobster pie and seafood chowder. One reason may be because the cold waters of the Maine coast will quickly take a bite out of the heat.

“The water will get up to 64 and maybe for a week it might get up to 70,” MacNeill said. “So it doesn’t take long to cool off. It will put a chill in you pretty quick.”

Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698 Twitter: @fwhanna

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