The Star-Herald

A top-five summer

A week ago today, Aug. 15, Caribou registered a high of 83 degrees, and that 80-plus day was the one — the one that propelled Caribou into the 40-80s club, which previously had only four members.

For nearly eight decades, climate records have been kept at Caribou, and this, the summer of 2018, becomes only the fifth summer in all those years to have at least 40 days where the high at Caribou was 80 degrees or warmer.

The totals for the four other years were 51 days, 44 days, and two seasons with 41 days.

The year in which it reached or exceeded 80 degrees 51 times was 1999, which was also a very dry summer, during which a number of folks saw their wells go dry. Also, one of the two 41-day seasons was just two summers ago, in 2016.

This season, after a slow start, with only six days of 80-plus temps through June 30th, the heat came on in a big way in July, with 21 of the 31 days getting to, or exceeding, the big 8-0. In fact, at this writing, Aug. 15, 25 of the last 28 days have seen temps get into the 80s at Caribou.

A real hallmark of this warm stretch has been the unrelenting mugginess, with dew points getting into the “very uncomfortable” range of my dew point comfort scale (where anything 65 or higher is very uncomfortable). Here in The County, people really notice very muggy (dew point 65-plus) days, because such weather is a rather infrequent visitor.

On average, Caribou gets to “muggy” (dew point 60) about 60 times per year.

But a dew point of 65 is, on average, attained only 20 times per year.

And a dew point of 70 is seen, on average, only twice per year.

We have certainly exceeded those averages this year.

Another notable feature of this summer has been the nighttime warmth.

Prior to this summer, the record high minimum temperature for a day at Caribou (Eastern Standard Time midnight-to-midnight) was 71 degrees. It had only occurred three times, going back to 1939. This summer we doubled that, as it happened three more times and, oh by the way, they were all in a row.

The warm summer has shown itself in another way as well, and if you track energy usage using Cooling Degree Days (CDD), you know that to be the case. Caribou is way above normal this year, and seems likely to record the highest number of Cooling Degree Days on record.

Interestingly, if you want to go hotter, the “90s king” is still 1944, when 90 degrees was reached or exceeded 11 times at Caribou.

Now, if all of this talk about heat is too much to take, take heart, because Caribou’s record for earliest measurable snowfall is Sept. 29. And that’s only about five weeks away.

Ted Shapiro holds the Broadcast Seal of Approval from both the American Meteorological Society and the National Weather Association. An Alexandria, Va. native, he has been chief meteorologist at WAGM-TV since 2006. Email him at  

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