Just like it surely felt, the unpleasant month just ended was the warmest July on the record books in St. Louis.
The National Weather Service reported this morning that the average daily temperature during July was 88.1 degrees. That beat the months of July in each of the worst summers in local weather history, including those of 1901, 1934, 1936, 1954 and 1980.
The previous champion, July 1901, had an average temperature of 87.4 degrees. July 1936, part of the deadliest heat wave on record in St. Louis, falls to third place with an average daily temperature of 86.4.
The daily average takes in the morning low and the afternoon high temperatures.
The Weather Service office in Weldon Spring said the reasons for July’s dreary place in the books were many. Among them:
• The most number of days, eight, with temperatures of at least 105 degrees. (There were seven in 1934, now ranked fourth.)
• The most number of nights, 11, with low temperatures of at least 80 degrees. (There were nine in 2011, which now ranks as the fifth warmest July.)
• Tied for the most number of days, 28, with temperatures of at least 90 degrees. (Ties with 1901 and 1936).
This July set high-temperature records on eight days and seven records for warm overnight lows. The Weather Service says 2012 continues to be the warmest year on record thus far since it began keeping temperature records here in 1874.
The average daily high temperature in July was 98.6 degrees, the average low 77.5. Those are almost 10 degrees hotter than the normal high, and 6.5 degrees warmer than the normal low.
Adding to the discomfort for July is the continuing drought. Less than an inch of rain was recorded all month at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. That is almost 3.5 inches below normal for the month. St. Louis is 8.7 inches below normal since May 1.
July did manage to spare the high-temperature record for a single date in St. Louis. The high of 108 degrees on July 25 wasn’t as bad as the 115 record set on July 14, 1954.
Because air-conditioning has become so common in the Midwest, even in low-income households, deaths by heat this summer total 24 people in the St. Louis area. All but three died in July. In 1936, the year of the worst heat wave ever recorded here, 479 people died of heat-related illness.
The forecast for today calls for a high of 102, followed by highs near 100 through Saturday. The Weather Service says Sunday and Monday may be in the low 90s, but there's no indication of a break from the strong high-pressure system that has scorched the Midwest since late June.