Aug. Summit County weather cool, dry |

Aug. Summit County weather cool, dry

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Summit Daily/Bob BerwynAs the weather dried up and cooled off in August, wildflowers went to seed and frost started nipping at heels of the High Country.

SUMMIT COUNTY – Summer rains died down considerably last month, leading to the ninth-driest August ever recorded in Breckenridge. That’s according to weather-watcher Rick Bly, who tracks precipitation statistics for the National Weather Service.

For the month, Bly recorded .79 inches of rain, only 35 percent of the average amount, 2.26 inches. There were only eight days with measurable precipitation in August, compared to 14 days average.

The official records in Breckenridge go back to the late 1800s.

Even though August was dry, the 2008-2009 hydrological year is turning out to be quite average, with 19.61 inches total precipitation (96 percent of average) to date. For official water-measuring purposes, the year starts Oct. 1 and ends Sept. 30.

Although there was a widespread perception that last winter was huge, snowfall in most months was close to average at the two official weather service sites in the county.

Bly said September brings about 1.47 inches of water, making it the third-driest month overall. But there have been some doozies, including 1961, with 53 inches of snow and 3.74 inches total precipitation, the all-time record. But the rest of that winter ended up disappointingly dry, Bly said.

Way back in 1892, September was completely dry, and in modern times, the driest September yielded only .12 inches in 1956.

The second National Weather Service station, where data is recorded by Denver Water officials, measured .78 inches for August, a full inch below the average for the month.

The average daily high temperature at the Dillon site for the month was 71.4 degrees, 1.1 degrees cooler than the historic average going back to 1909.

The daily low temperature was 33.4 degrees, 1.4 degrees below the historic average.

The thermometer only reached the 80-degree mark once, on Aug. 23. But nighttime lows started dipping below freezing – down to 26 degrees – as early as Aug. 9. The temps dropped into the 20s for five straight days beginning Aug. 15, marking the start of fall in the High Country.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric administration also recent released average summer temperatures for the contiguous United States showing that large parts of the country were cooler than average.The average 2009 August temperature of 72.2 degrees F was 0.6 degree F below the 20th Century average.

For June through August, U.S. temperatures were the 34th-coolest on record, dating back to 1895. Federal climatologists said a recurring upper level trough held the June-August temperatures down in the central states, where Michigan experienced its fifth, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and South Dakota their seventh, Nebraska its eighth, and Iowa its ninth coolest summer.

By contrast, Florida had its fourth warmest summer, while Washington and Texas experienced their eighth and ninth warmest, respectively.

The Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota region experienced its sixth coolest summer on record. Only the Northwest averaged above normal temperatures.

There were more than 300 low temperature records (counting daily highs and lows) set across states in the Midwest during the last two days of August.

In a brief compilation of national fire data, the agency reported that 7,975 fires burned 1.64 million acres in August, according to the National Interagency Coordination Center. August 2009 ranked fifth for the number of fires and sixth for acres burned in August this decade. From January through August, 64,682 fires have burned 5.2 million acres across the nation.

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