masthead-highres

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Washington Temperature Records

From David Ridenour:
The Washington Post reports today that "the temperature hit 102 degrees at Reagan National Airport, according to the National Weather Service, breaking by one degree the record for Aug. 8, set in 1930."

The trouble is, this can't be backed up.

You see, Reagan National Airport didn't open until June 16, 1941 -- eleven years after the 1930 record was set. In fact, most of the airport site was under water in 1930.

This means that even assuming yesterday's temperature was adjusted down to account for the urban heat island effect (as the instrument is surrounded by more heat-absorbing asphalt than would have been the case 77 years ago, or, for that matter, ten years ago), the readings were taken in two entirely different locations.

Sorry to break the news to global warming alarmists: The 1930 record still stands.

The National Weather Service states that BWI also broke a record yesterday, hitting 102 for the first time in its history. It's not an incredibly long history. BWI wasn't opened until 1950. It started out as the new Friendship International Airport and was only a fraction of BWI's current size.

On its first day of regular flights, the airport had just 56 take-offs and landings. In January of this year, BWI had 710 -- not including private planes.

The previous temperature record was set, the service says, in 1980, and was 99 degrees. The hottest temperature in 27 years isn't very earth-shattering, even if it were true.

But this is unlikely to be the case.

In 1980, BWI was less than a third the size it is today (635,000 square feet compared to 1.96 million) and had less than a quarter the number of passengers (about 5.2 million compared to about 21 million today).

Greater asphalt, automobile and airline traffic have undoubtedly contributed to higher temperature readings.

One final note: The 102 degree temperature reached yesterday isn't a record for our area. The record is 106 degrees -- 4 degrees higher, set in July 1930.
To contact author David Ridenour directly,
write him at [email protected]


Addendum: Please note that the original version of this post contained an error for the record temperature in Washington, D.C., citing it as 112 degrees. The correct figure, which now appears in the text above, is 106. I apologize for the error.

Addendum 2: I screwed up when typing the correction to the above, and now have made a second correction to note that the 106 record was set in July 1930, not in August 1930. I apologize for this error as well.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:03 PM

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