As the temperatures continue to hover at or above the 90-degree mark with the heat index climbing into triple digits, it begs the question: Is this normal?
Looking at the numbers from the National Weather Service, the temperatures are certainly above normal. The normal average temperature for the first few days of September is around 78 or 79 degrees.
But according to Mike Griffin, with the National Weather Service in Cleveland, “it’s not a record, by any means.”
“It’s basically a summertime ridge of high pressure,” Griffin said. “It’s not unusual or anything. It is a little later than we typically see them, as they usually occur in July or August. This one is just kind of strong and it’s not allowing the weather pattern to change.”
Still, it’s not a record.
The record highs for the first few days of September occurred back in the 1950s. In 1953, temperatures reached 101 degrees on Sept. 1, 2 and 3. The high of 95 for Sept. 4 was reached the following year, in 1954. Temperatures reached 99 and 98 on Sept. 5 and 6 in 1954.
While area temperatures may not be hitting record highs, Griffin said this summer was the seventh-hottest on record when looking at the mean average. The mean average for this summer — June, July and August — was 74.1 degrees.
“An average normal temperature is 71.6,” Griffin said. “If you take that compared to this year, that’s 2.5 degrees, roughly. That’s kind of significant, when it comes to climate.”
Griffin said the reason for the unseasonably high temperatures could have something to do with the amount of moisture in the air.
“We didn’t have a lot of record highs this summer, but it just stayed warm, especially at night,” he said. “Temperatures just didn’t cool off as much as they normally would. That might have something to do with humidity or moisture. When there’s more moisture in the air with more humid conditions, those temperatures won’t cool off as much at night.”
The humidity in the air also leads to temperatures feeling hotter than they actually are, which is referred to as the heat index.
Griffin said the heat index is similar to the wind chill in the winter months, which is “where the wind blows across your skin and blows the heat away from your body.” The opposite happens in the warmer months.
“For the body, sweating is a natural process for it to cool itself, with the evaporation or sweat,” Griffin said. “When you sweat you evaporate, and that evaporation process on your skin causes a cooling effect and it feels more comfortable for you. If you can’t sweat the sweat off, because there’s a lot of moisture around you in the air, then you start feeling that nasty muggy air. It feels hotter than the actual temperature, and that’s the heat index.’’
Griffin said relief from the heat is in sight, though.
“It will change in a couple days,” he said. “By the end of the week, we’re going to get a cold front moving in, and things will cool off with some rain.”