With Labor Day behind us, we bid farewell to the summer of 2018, which turned out to be Austin’s third-warmest on record, according to National Weather Service data.
Austin avoided the perils of hurricanes this summer, but the specter of drought continues to haunt Central Texas and we can see the effects of climate change expressed in some of the season’s statistics:
92 days: Number of days in summer. Meteorologists define the season as the months of June, July and August because using fixed months instead of shifting astronomical dates allows for more consistent data.
51 days: Number of days when temperatures hit 100 degrees or higher at Austin’s main weather station at Camp Mabry. Last year, the warmest ever in Austin, tallied 42 such days. But the record belongs to the historic summer of 2011, which chalked up 90 such days. Among the top 10 years with the most 100-degree days, eight are in the 21st century with 2018 at No. 4, weather service data show.
The first day of triple-digit temperatures arrived this year on June 2, when it hit 101 degrees. The 100-degree days continued until the last day of the summer, Aug. 31. Austin, however, will likely end up with even more 100-degree days for the year because it already marked its 52nd day on Saturday, the first day of meteorological fall.
15 days: Most consecutive 100-degree days so far this year (from Aug. 14-28). Camp Mabry also tallied a 14-day streak from July 17-30. Austin’s longest streak on record was 27 days, which was set in 2011 from July 17 to Aug. 12.
87.6 degrees: Average summer temperature in 2018. Only two other summers in Austin were hotter, in 2009 and 2011, weather service data show. Of the top 20 warmest summers in Austin, half of them occurred after 2000.
Austin’s hottest summer, in 2011, had an average temperature of 89.5 degrees. The end of that summer saw the Bastrop County Complex Fire, the worst wildfire in Texas history, start on Labor Day weekend. This summer, though, Central Texas saw its biggest summer wildfires confined quickly to largely uninhabited, rural parts of the Hill Country.
110 degrees: Highest temperature recorded this summer. The July 23 reading was not only Austin’s highest temperature ever recorded in July, it was the second-highest temperature ever recorded in the city since record-keeping began in the 1890s.
70 degrees: Lowest temperature recorded at Camp Mabry this summer (Aug. 2).
86.5 degrees: Average temperature in June, making it the fourth-hottest on record.
87.6 degrees: Average temperature in July, making it the seventh-hottest on record
88.7 degrees: Average temperature in August, making it the third-warmest on record.
1.77 inches: Most rainfall in a day this summer (July 9).
0.33 inches: Total August rainfall, making it the driest month this year since January.
62 percent: Proportion of Lake Travis full, according to the Lower Colorado River Authority. Elevation at the lake is about 654 feet above mean sea level, or about 9 feet below its historical average
81.44 percent: Proportion of Texas facing drought, according to U.S. Drought Monitor data. Most of the Austin area along the Interstate 35 corridor is considered to be in moderate or severe drought, which can be characterized by widespread water restrictions and some crop or pasture losses.
153: Number of Texas counties under an outdoor burn ban, as of Sept. 1. The Austin metro area counties of Travis, Williamson, Hays, Bastrop and Caldwell have burn bans in place.