DC falls short of making history as high heat demolishes records across US
As a heat wave bakes the south and central Plains, organizers have been forced to cancel several of the historic Fort Worth cattle drives because of the heat.
The stretch of 90-degree days in the nation’s capital fell just short of tying its 21-day record on Thursday as temperatures settled at 87 degrees. The preceding days had barely scraped the 90-degree threshold. Washington, D.C., had seen its 20th straight 90-degree day on Wednesday, recorded at Reagan National Airport shortly before 1 p.m. EDT.
The streak needed to continue through Friday to break the record for most consecutive 90-degree plus days, a record shared by the summers of 1980 and 1988.
However, cooling conditions ended up getting the best of the rising temperatures, and the location where official temperature recordings are taken, at the airport, also played a factor.
AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski had said that although forecasters expected to see a high temperature near 90 F on Thursday, a slight breeze off the Potomac River could interfere with temperatures at Reagan National Airport.
“The airport sits right along the west shores of the Potomac River, where the water temperature is cooler than the land,” Sosnowski said.
If the breeze had ended up blowing south-southwest, the record might have stood a chance, according to Sosnowski. However, a south-southeasterly flow ended up contributing to the shortcomings of Thursday's temperatures.
Sosnowski added that more clouds around on Thursday, compared to other days this week, may also have been a factor.
Wednesday's mark gave the city its second-longest streak ever, moving past the previous mark set way back in 1872. Earlier this week, National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist Cody Ledbetter told AccuWeather that he viewed Monday and Tuesday's conditions as the biggest threats to snap the streak.
Many states away, enough new record book chapters have been rewritten in the Southwest that some areas might as well just get an entirely new record book.
On Tuesday, another 15 daily records were set or matched in Texas alone. According to NWS meteorologist Jeff Vitale, who works in the Lubbock, Texas, office, conditions have hardly budged in the past week, keeping the blanket of heat draped over the region.
"We've seen this upper-level ridge over the area for the past week and it's coupled with the relatively dry spring we had," Vitale told AccuWeather. "The dryness contributed to the amount of heat. We're in a drought at the moment."
The drought conditions started in the spring and robbed the area of the normal wet period of the year, which typically occurs in May and June. Vitale said those same drought conditions have extended over the New Mexico state line.
Lubbock saw new daily high temperature records set on both Monday and Tuesday this week, starting the week off on a historically sweaty note. Monday's high in the city reached 110 F and Tuesday's high reached even higher to 111 F.
Elsewhere in Texas, new daily record high temperatures were set in Amarillo, Borger, Childress, Del Rio, Miami, Midland, San Angelo, San Antonio, and Victoria. In Midland, residents saw the all-time high temperature record from 1933 fall as thermometers reached 111 F.
AccuWeather's National Reporter Bill Wadell reported this week that some water parks have reopened at half capacity to help residents cool down in the extreme Texas heat while following coronavirus safety guidelines. He said that even AccuWeather RealFeel Shade™ values have been eclipsing the 100-degree mark, adding to the grueling nature of the heat wave.
The heat has been so intense that it forced organizers to cancel several historic cattle drives in Fort Worth, Texas. And cattle drivers are paying special attention to give the animals extra water, shade and care during the searing heat.
"Animals are just like us. They get too hot just like we do," Lynette Jones of Springfield, Illinois, told Wadell. She traveled to Fort Worth specifically to see a cattle drive and visit family. Temperatures have topped out in the high 90s for the last several days there and are forecast to reach triple digits over the next couple of days.
The recent record-breaking heat in Texas forced organizers to cancel cattle drives in Fort Worth, disappointing visitors who came in from around the country. (AccuWeather / Bill Wadell)
For many Texans, the annually hot summer conditions may not be out of the norm, but this year's particularly intense heat is hard to live in, even for the most adapted residents.
"We're used to it normally being pretty warm this time of year," Vitale said. "But this is pretty excessive."
Additional reporting by AccuWeather's Bill Wadell.
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