Gentle summer of ‘13 contrasts with ‘cruel summer’ 8/20/2013

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Gentle summer of ‘13 contrasts with ‘cruel summer’

Guest column by Bobby Bradford

Back in the mid-1980s, a song was released called “Cruel Summer.” The artist might have been referring to the weather in this part of the county, but not this summer. Not the summer of 2013.
Even though the calendar says that autumn doesn’t officially begin until Sunday midnight, Sept. 23, we know unofficially that summer is gone.

All the signs of the fall season are here. High school and college students are out on the football fields getting ready to open their seasons by the end of this month. We watched NFL football on television last week. And most important, nighttime comes earlier than it did in June and July.
I’m not crazy; I know there are 93 days of summer. We still have humid days ahead of us, but let’s reflect and thank the man above for the nice weather this summer. We haven’t reached 100 degrees this summer, not the actual temperature itself. The heat index reached the century mark a few times, but in other summers we have actual 100 degrees with heat index eight or ten degrees higher.

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During the month of July, we had 18 days when the temps did not get out of the 80s. That’s right — 18 days of 89 degrees or less temps in July. When was the last summer when we could make that statement?

For people who like me who like to sit outside at night, every summer prior to this, you were going to sweat. Like someone pouring water on your head. But not once this summer have I broken a sweat after it gets dark.

Even though August started on the humid side, as I write this the seven day forecast shows most daytime highs in the 80s. Nighttime lows will be in the 60s for three of those days.
Every day this summer there have been times when I had to turn my air conditioning units off because I actually got cold. Every other year I have put my blanket away in April or May. This year it has never been put up.

Many readers will not remember the summer of 1980. That was the Cruel Summer. There were over 60 days when the temperatures exceeded 100 degrees. I was barely out of elementary school. Every night when we turned on the television news we would learn about people who had died from the heat. They were telling everyone — not asking — to stay inside if at all possible.

But it wasn’t safe inside, either. We were just leaving the 1970s and many people didn’t know what an air conditioner was or couldn’t afford one. We were living in wooden houses with a tent on top. All we had was our one or two window fans.

Almost every day during July and August we were under a heat advisory. Compare that to this summer. The National Weather Service has issued only two heat advisories thus far this summer: August 8 and 9. And while every summer since 1980 hasn’t been that brutal, every summer will always be compared to that summer by those of us who remember.

We all know that Mississippi summers are always uncomfortable, but not the summer of 2013. We can all smile and say it has been anything but cruel.