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      Beginning the Hottest Stretch of a Long, Hot Summer: July 3, 1988

      Drought breeds heat and there was plenty of it to begin the summer in 1988.

      The summer of 1988 was my first warm season in Upper Michigan. Warm is an understatement. Each summer month (June, July and August) average above normal with some long hot spells. However, there were enough cool spells to keep it from being unbearable.

      The most notable cool spell closed out June and began July. Between June 28th and July 2nd, the mean temperature was 9.2 degrees below average. Morning lows reached into the 30s at many locations. Then on July 3, 1988, after a chilly start at 45, southwesterly winds heated it up to 84 at the National Weather Service (NWS) near Negaunee. This was the beginning of the longest, strongest hot spell of the summer. The five-day mean temperature from July 4-8 reached a sweltering 80.2 degrees. The long-term mean temperature during this time is only 65 degrees.

      This hot stretch included a maximum of 98 on both July 7 and 8. The hot, dry weather aided in spreading a wildfire near Rapid River that injured a firefighter and backed up holiday traffic on U.S.-2. Later in the month, the official high temperature reached 99 degrees, tying the all-time record high at the NWS.

      This hot summer was the product of a serious drought that plagued much of the region from the spring into the summer (Image 1 above). High temperatures in the 100s were experienced on a number of occasions from June, July into August to the west and south of Upper Michigan. The searing heat and drought continued until August. Then a big turn-around occurred here in the Upper Peninsula. August 1988 became the wettest eighth month on record with several episodes of showers and thunderstorms. The rain was a symptom of a developing pattern change that brought cool, wet conditions during the fall.

      We are just emerging from a cool stretch similar to what occurred before the â??88 heat blast. Things will warm up, but no extreme heat is expected. Indications are it will just get rather humid during the weekend. This stretch coming up looks similar to the last warm spell we experienced during late June.