Hot Times in Norfolk

By Russell Russ

July typically is Norfolk’s warmest month of the year and this year it continued the 2012 pattern of being above normal in temperature. It has been drier than normal here in Norfolk, but we continue to be just wet enough to keep out of the serious drought conditions that are affecting a good portion of the country.

The National Weather Service noted that July 2012 was the hottest month ever recorded in the lower 48 states; not necessarily the hottest for every location, but on average for the contiguous United States. They began such records in 1895. Was it the hottest month ever for Norfolk? No, it was not. It actually was only Norfolk’s eighth warmest month since our records began here in 1932. Still, it does say something about our local climate if it was the eighth warmest month in our 967 months of weather observing.

The month’s low temperature of 52 degrees was observed on July 10 and the high temperature of 91 degrees was observed on July 18. This was the first time in 2012 that we hit 90 or above. Record high temperatures were recorded on July 17, when our 89 degrees tied the 1968 record, and also on July 18 when our temperature of 91 tied the 1935 record.

The average mean temperature in July was 70.7 degrees, 2.7 degrees above normal. It was the seventh warmest July and eighth warmest of any month since 1932. As warm as it was, it was still cooler than our last two months of July. July 2011 with 70.8 degrees, was the sixth warmest July (and seventh warmest of any month) and July 2010 with 71.5 degrees was the third warmest of any month. Norfolk’s warmest month, of any month, over the last 81 years was July 1955, with an average of 72.1 degrees.

The total precipitation for the month was 3.99 inches, just 0.32 inch below normal. There were three thunderstorms observed at the weather station this month with two of them produced brief pea-sized hail. We are starting to get our fair share of the bigger thunderstorms. This is typical for our mid to late summer period.

Through July this year, the total precipitation amount for the year was 21.67 inches. This is 8.23 inches below normal for this period. If we continue with this dry pattern for the rest of the year we could be looking at one of our top ten driest years.


New Fischer-Porter Rain Gauge

On July 18, 2012 Norfolk 2 SW became just a little more modernized. A Fischer-Porter Recording Rain Gauge was installed by the National Weather Service. This rain gauge replaced our older Universal Recording Rain Gauge that had been in service for decades.

The advantage of the new gauge is that it contains a data logger that records the precipitation amount. At the end of each month, or when ever desired, precipitation data is downloaded to a SD card and transferred to a computer. The data is then sent on to the National Weather Service in Albany, NY for their records. A copy is also kept for Great Mountain Forest’s records. The new gauge does basically the same thing as the old gauge, but there are no paper charts or pens to be maintained or changed on a weekly basis. From the weather observer’s perspective this is very nice!

The new gauge gets power from a small solar panel and has a small battery back-up. The National Weather Service began installing the new gauges in Hawaii in May 2009, finally getting to Norfolk in July 2012. A long wait, but it should be well worth it.