PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - If the heat has been getting to you more than usual this summer,there’s a good reason – this year is on track to be thewarmest on record.
The average temperature at T.F. Green Airport has been 74.8degrees since June 1, hotter than the record of 74.4 degrees set in1949, according to Bill Simpson, a National Weather Servicemeteorologist in Taunton. The normal average is 70.4.
If the current trend continues through next month, this summerwould set a new milestone as the warmest since records began in1904, he said. (The weather service defines summer as June 1 toAug. 30.)
The heat wave that hit the region earlier this month alreadybroke records. The temperature reached 102 degrees on July 6,smashing the previous record high of 97 in 1999. It was the hottestday in 19 years and the first time the high at T.F. Green hadreached triple-digits since 2006.
The July 6 record came within 2 degrees of matching the hottesttemperature ever recorded at T.F. Green, 104 on Aug. 2, 1975,Simpson said.
The temperature has been at least 90 degrees on seven days sofar this month. The average temperature in July has been 78.2degrees, 5.3 degrees above normal. It was 70.9 last month, 3.3degrees above normal.
Electricity demand up
The continued warm weather is increasing demand for electricityas residents and businesses crank up their air-conditioners, saidMarcia Blomberg, a spokeswoman for ISO New England, theorganization that manages the region’s 8,000-mile powergrid.
Compared with last summer, which was one of the coolest onrecord, regional power demand is up significantly this year, with anearly 13 percent increase in June, Blomberg said. The improvingeconomy may also be a factor, she said.
In Rhode Island, electricity consumption totaled 737gigawatt-hours last month, up from 623 gigawatt-hours a yearearlier, ISO said. (Having a 100-watt light bulb turned on for onehour equals 100 watt-hours.)
Natural gas, oil
Electricity use by New England’s 6.5 million homes andbusinesses reached 27,154 megawatts on July 6, the fourth-highestdemand ever, according to ISO. The region has a maximum capacity of31,950 megawatts.
New Englanders get 41 percent of their electricity by burningnatural gas and another 21 percent from oil. The next-biggestsource is nuclear power, at 14.5 percent.
Nearly 99 percent of the electricity generated in Rhode Islandcomes from gas, and the total of about 1,800 megawatts was morethan enough to cover in-state demand last year. Excess power issold on the regional wholesale market.
More heat waves
Last month was the hottest June on record worldwide, and averagetemperatures this year have also broken records, according to theNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The decade from2000 to 2009 was also the warmest on record, according to NASA.
Heat waves and other extreme high-temperature events couldbecome more frequent in the United States over the next 30 years ascarbon-dioxide emissions continue to rise, according to a two-yearstudy published this month in the scientific journal GeophysicalResearch Letters.
“Using a large suite of climate model experiments, we seea clear emergence of much more intense, hot conditions in the U.S.within the next three decades,” Noah Diffenbaugh, thestudy’s lead author and an assistant professor ofenvironmental Earth system science at Stanford University, said ina news release.
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