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City tops record for heat longevity

By Paul Huggins · 340-2395

Though it’s unofficial, Decatur apparently broke a record for consecutive days of triple-digit temperatures.

Saturday reached at least 100, based on temperature estimates by the National Weather Service in Huntsville.

Equipment failures at the NWS’s monitoring station at Pryor Field interfered with accurate readings during the weekend, so the NWS estimated the temperature based on readings at two nearby stations. Athens and Belle Mina each registered 101 on Saturday.

That gives Decatur 11 straight days at 100 or higher. The official record was 10 days, set in 1952 at a Huntsville monitoring station.

Heat relief

The region experienced some heat relief Sunday and Monday. Pryor Field readings were still unavailable for Sunday, but no station in North Alabama reached 100, said Jason Elliott, NWS meteorologist.

Monday’s high was 95.

The relief will be short-lived, though, as temperatures could climb back to 100 on Wednesday, Elliot said.

“The high pressure that let go of the area for a few days is coming back Wednesday. That should stay with us at least the rest of the week,” he said.

The unofficial Decatur record for most triple-digit temperatures in one month is 13, set in July 1902. The unofficial record for most in one year is 22, set in 1936.

Decatur weather records, which date back to 1897, are unofficial because they stopped in 1968 until a few years ago.

The official record (from Huntsville) for most triple-digit days is 15 set in July 1930, and the most in one year is 30 (12 in September alone) set in 1925.

1925 is also the existing record for driest year, when Huntsville recorded 37.18 inches of rain.

Not surprisingly, Elliott said, the second and third driest years are 1930 and 1902, when Huntsville and Decatur registered the most triple-digit temps for a month.

“Whenever it gets real dry, it gets real hot,” he said.

Huntsville has recorded 17.35 inches of rain in 2007, Elliott said. It needs 20 inches in the next 41/2 months to avoid breaking the record.

“It’s not looking too good,” he said.

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