Josh Eachus is a meteorologist at WBRZ News 2 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
For Baton Rouge, the summer of 2016 will go down as the wettest ever recorded. The Great Flood of 2016 was responsible for approximately 40 percent of 44 inches of rain. Even without that record three-day total of 17.5 inches, this year would have gone down as one of the top 10 wettest summers on record.
Likely also responsible for the uptick from normal rain, high dew points (humidity) also kept low temperatures uncomfortably warm, more so than usual. Thermometers stayed at or above 70 degrees since June 9; no summer storm, not even the flooding rain, cooled temperatures lower. As of Thursday, a record stretch of 106 days without reaching 69 degrees or lower continued.
While still in the upper echelon of hot summers, 2016 is marginally less impressive when viewed through the lens of meteorological summer versus astronomical summer. What’s the difference? According to NOAA, “astronomical seasons are based on the position of the Earth in relation to the sun, whereas the meteorological seasons are based on the annual temperature cycle.” As June, July and August are traditionally the warmest, meteorologists look to those months to tally summer statistics.
However, by simply using astronomical summer as a “climate data period,” 2016 leaves behind even more striking statistics. Of the six data categories examined, 2016 takes the top spot in four: wettest, highest average low, highest average temperature and most low temperatures above 70 degrees. The period has also had the second most days with highs above 90 degrees.
On Tuesday, NOAA announced that August marked the 16th straight month with record warm global temperatures — the longest such streak since data collection began in 1880. And coincident with some of the warm records falling in Baton Rouge, data also shows meteorological summer 2016 as the warmest across the globe.
*Data for Baton Rouge was used from Ryan Field at Metro Airport. Period of record: 1930 – present