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August heat surge could be one for record books

Shawn D. Lewis
The Detroit News
Amber Palicke, 36, puts sunscreen on the back of her daughter, Aubrey Palicke, 5, both of Chesterfield Twp., before she swam, July 21, 2016, at the Walter & Mary Burke Park beach in New Baltimore. The heat index neared 100-degrees.

This is going to be a close one.

With only three days remaining, it’s possible the month will end with questions like “Is this the hottest August ever recorded in Michigan?”

It may not be the kind of weather notation residents enjoy being a part of, but it would be a historic run of heat.

“We are looking at record warmth, but we won’t have the actual numbers until the end of the month,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Deb Elliott.

The last three days of the month don’t look to be extraordinarily hot. Late Sunday, the National Weather Service was calling for highs of 83 degrees Monday, 85 Tuesday and 79 Wednesday. Thursday’s high will be in the mid-70s, with a low in the mid-50s. Friday should be a repeat with highs in the mid-70s and lows in the mid-50s.

According to Elliott, the summer of 2016 has seen plenty of 90-degree days so far — five days in June, nine in July and seven in August.

Why so hot?

Meteorologist Bryan Tilley described weather patterns. “A large-scale weather pattern supported above-normal temperature patterns throughout the summer, forcing a low-pressure system farther north into Canada, so that prevented cold fronts from coming through as frequently, which resulted in fewer cooler days with lower humidity,” he said. “And the cooler days would only last a day or two before the warmth would come surging back in.”

He said the final temperatures for the summer will be compiled in early September.

“There have been a lot of places that were marginally in a drought,” said Tilley. “But over the last couple of weeks, heavy rainfall brought relief for dry conditions.”

Rainfall actually has been below normal.

“As of yesterday, not counting today, Metro Airport has been two inches below normal for the whole summer,” said Tilley. “That makes it pretty close to 25 percent below normal for the whole summer. But the last couple of weeks helped make up for that. We’ve been making up ground on rainfall totals.”

Thunderstorms rolled through Metro Detroit on Saturday leaving a dark, foreboding, soaking, humid afternoon.

But as soon as it began, it was almost over. Meteorologist Mike Richter said temperatures Saturday began in the mid-80s, but the thunderstorm dropped the temperature to around 70 by 4 p.m.

As for the outlook: “It looks like a pretty quiet rest of the week,” said Richter.

SLewis@detroitnews.com

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