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Bringing the heat: York County sets record for hottest July

Ron Musselman
York Dispatch
Azure Boxley, 7, of York City, glides down the slide at Graham Aquatic Center-YMCA as the heat index reaches the mid 90's in York City, Wednesday, June 10, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

July typically is hot, but last month was a record-breaker.

The south-central region of the state, which includes York County, surpassed a 132-year record for the hottest July ever, according to the National Weather Service in State College.

“We have been keeping records since 1888 and it is the hottest month of July ever recorded, as well as the warmest month on record,” meteorologist John Banghoff said Saturday.

The average temperature for the south-central region for July was 82.2 degrees, breaking the old mark of 81.8 degrees set in 1999, the weather service said. The data for the region is collected at Harrisburg International Airport.

York County also tied its record for 90-degree days with 18, matching July 1999, the weather service said. That data has only been collected at York Airport for 22 years.

“It was a hot month here in Pennsylvania, in York, and in a lot of different places,” Banghoff said. “We only had four days below average across the southeast portion of Pennsylvania in July.”

The two warmest days in York were July 19 and 20, when the temperature reached 96 degrees. The coolest day was 81 on July 10, according to the weather service. 

“While we have had a relatively hot start to summer, another interesting feature of this period was the relative lack of ‘cooler’ days where the high temperature did not reach 80 degrees,” state climatologist Kyle Imhoff said.  

“So, it was very mild during the period with relatively few breaks of cooler weather. This accentuated the feeling that June and July were very hot as perceived by Pennsylvanians.”

Imhoff said 90-degree days aren’t likely to disappear going forward.

”Climate model projections indicate that a broad warming pattern may lead to additional hot days during the summer months in Pennsylvania, and more broadly, in the Mid-Atlantic region,” he said. 

July’s sweltering heat wave blanketed Pennsylvania cities such as Pittsburgh, Harrisburg and Philadelphia, where 90-degree days were the norm.

“In places like Harrisburg and Philadelphia, there are between five and 10 more ‘hot days’ (now) compared to what was seen back in the late 1800s and early 1900s,” Imhoff said.

Pennsylvania wasn't the only state breaking records last month.

Baltimore recorded 25 days of 90-degree temperatures in July, breaking a 148-year record. And Washington set a record with 28 days of 90 or more in July. The previous mark was 25 days in 2011, according to the weather service. 

On Thursday, the temperature reached 118 degrees in Phoenix, Arizona, shattering the record of 115 set in 1934. It also set a record for hottest July with an average temperature of 99 degrees.

For now, relief appears on the way for York County.

Cooler temperatures in the low-to-mid 80s are projected starting Monday, with a chance of occasional rain and thunderstorms created by Hurricane Isaias through mid-week before clearing up, according to the weather service.

“It doesn’t look like we are going to have another 90-degree day until at least mid-August,” Banghoff said.

— Ron Musselman can be reached at rmusselman@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @ronmusselman8.