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Heat is just getting started

Heat is just getting started

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The evidence that summer has arrived is everywhere.

It's common to break out in a sweat just walking from the house to the car. Children are munching on snow cones and sunburned cheeks punctuate crowded pools. All are indications that days are getting longer and nights are getting hotter.

The season officially began a week ago, but it's felt like summer for several weeks in the Brazos Valley.

Kent Prochazka, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Houston, pointed to statistical data to show that summer is in full swing: The average temperature has been above 70 degrees in Brazos County for most of the year, he said.

The high temperature hasn't reached the 70-degree mark on just 56 days, according to National Weather Service data.

While the average high for May is typically 84 degrees, the region saw temperatures top 92 degrees at least once last month.

Raindrops that have blanketed Bryan-College Station for the past few weeks could keep temperatures in the low 90s the first few weeks in July, said Adam Wiley of the Office of the State Climatologist at Texas A&M University.

"The ground is a bit wetter than normal, so it's not going to warm up as much as it usually would," he said, noting that Brazos County has already surpassed the 3.42-inch average rainfall for June.

Bryan-College Station has seen 3.78 inches of rain this month, according to the National Weather Service.

But that moisture, and the cooler temperatures it brings, won't last all summer, Wiley said.

"When we move into the middle of summer, it will dry out," he said. "July is usually pretty dry, as well as August."

Prochazka said climatologists are predicting that temperatures in July will be below normal for most of Texas, including Brazos County. But from August to October, temperatures are expected to rise above normal, he said.

In an average June, area residents spend 21 days with temperatures around 90 degrees. The average high temperature in June is 91.7 degrees, with a record high of 107 in 1911, Prochazka said.

"It doesn't look like we're going to come anywhere near that this month," he said.

In July, average highs hover between 93 and 95 degrees, with a record high temperature of 110 degrees set in 1917.

But, as most Texans know, August typically is the hottest month, with average high temperatures topping out at 96 degrees in the middle of the month. A record high of 109 degrees was set in August 2000.

Prochazka said he remembers the summer that record was set: "It was just miserable."

Temperatures generally lower about three degrees by the first of September. In recent years, September high temperatures have fallen below 90 degrees by the third week.

Wiley said there haven't been any tropical storms yet, but that's something forecasters will keep an eye on throughout the summer.

"If we were to get any tropical storms in Southeast Texas, that would certainly put some much-needed rainfall in late summer to cool us down," he said.

The records for the warmest average temperatures in June and July for the area both occurred in 1998, with 86.7 degrees and 88.6 degrees, respectively. The warmest August average was 88.5 degrees, in 1951.

Prochazka said those numbers might seem low, but because they're averages of temperatures during the day and night, those months actually were sweltering.

"The air conditioner is constantly running," Prochazka said, noting that high electric bills probably weren't a concern in 1951. But then again, without air conditioning, those warm months would have been unbearable, he said.

"That's another reason to be glad for modern convenience."

• Arena Welch's e-mail address is arena.welch@theeagle.com.

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