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El Paso shatters heat records, again

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Last month was — by far — the hottest August in El Paso’s recorded weather history.

The average temperature for this August is 88.3 degrees. The previous record was set last year, 87.6 degrees. Before the last two years, the record for highest average temperature in August was 87 degrees in 2011. 

The past two summers have dramatically illustrated the impacts of climate change and the urban heat island effect on El Paso. From 1900 to 1999, the average temperature for August in El Paso was 80.3 degrees; since 2000 it’s been 83 degrees. Eight of El Paso’s 10 warmest Augusts have occurred since 2000.

El Paso had 20 days this August with temperatures above 100, breaking the record of 19 set last year. Before the past two years, El Paso had never had an August with more than 16 days above 100 degrees. Between 1900 and 1999, August in El Paso saw an average of 1.6 days above 100.

El Paso has had 54 days this year where temperatures exceeded 100 degrees, the third-highest number of such days in more than 130 years of weather records.

The record August heat this year followed record heat for July. The average temperature in July was 88.9 degrees, which tied June 1994 as the warmest month in El Paso weather records that go back to 1887. 

In addition to breaking the record for August, last month was the fourth hottest of any month in El Paso weather records. That means that two of the four hottest months in El Paso’s recorded weather history occurred in the past two months.

For record-keeping purposes, the National Weather Service defines summer as June through August. The average temperature for those months in El Paso this year was 87.5, just below the record 87.7 set in 1994. 

Three of the five warmest summers in El Paso history have occurred in the last three years; 11 of our 13 warmest summers have come in the last 12 years.

This spring, defined by the weather service as March through May, was the second warmest on record for El Paso, behind only 2018. Nine of our 10 warmest springs have come since 2000.

Barring an unusually cool fall and winter, 2020 seems likely to be one of the hottest years on record in El Paso. Four of the five current hottest years were 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

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Robert Moore

Robert Moore is the founder and CEO of El Paso Matters. He has been a journalist in the Texas Borderlands since 1986. His work has received a number of top journalism honors including the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, Pulitzer Prize finalist and the Benjamin C. Bradlee Editor of the Year Award. Moore’s work has appeared in the Washington Post, Texas Monthly, ProPublica, National Public Radio, The Guardian and other publications. He has been featured as an expert on border issues by CNN, MSNBC, BBC, CBC and PBS.

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