US sets new record for overnight low temperatures

Night time temperatures are important because a cooler night is crucial for people, animals and plants to recover from the warmth of daytime heat waves.

NEW YORK — Talk about hot nights, America got some for the history books last month.

The continental United States set a record for nighttime warmth in July, offering little relief to people, animals, plants and the power grid from the day’s scorching heat, meteorologists said.

The average low for the lower 48 states in July was 63.6 degrees (17.6 degrees Celsius), beating the previous record set in 2011 by a few hundredths of a degree. The mark is not only the hottest overnight average for July, but for any month in 128 years on record, said climatologist Karin Gleason of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The July overnight low was more than 3 degrees (5.4 degrees Celsius) warmer than the 20th-century average.

Scientists have long argued that nighttime temperatures — reflected in increasingly hotter minimums that typically occur after sunset and before sunrise — are critical to health.

“If you have daytime temperatures that are at or near record highs and you don’t have that recovery overnight as temperatures cool, it puts a lot of stress on plants, animals and people,” Gleason said Friday. “It’s big business.”

In Texas, where the monthly daily average topped 100 degrees (37.8 degrees Celsius) for the first time in July and the power grid was strained, the average nighttime temperature was still a warm 74.3 degrees (23.5 degrees Celsius) — April 4 degrees (7.2 degrees Celsius). ) above the 20th-century average.

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Over the past 30 years, the U.S. nighttime low has warmed an average of about 2.1 degrees (3.8 degrees Celsius) while daily highs have simultaneously increased by 1.9 degrees (3.4 degrees Celsius). For decades, climate scientists have said that global warming from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas would warm the world faster at night and in the northern polar regions. A study earlier this week said the Arctic is now warming four times faster than the rest of the world.

The night warms faster because daytime warming helps the air hold more moisture than that moisture helps trap heat at night, Gleason said.

“So it’s to be expected in theory and it’s also something we’re seeing in the data,” Gleason said.

NOAA also released its global temperature data for July on Friday, showing that on average it was the sixth warmest month on record, with an average temperature of 61.97 degrees (16.67 degrees Celsius), which was 1.57 degrees (0.87 degrees Celsius) warmer than the 20th-century average. It was a month of heat waves, with the UK breaking its all-time heat record.

“Global warming is continuing,” said Colorado meteorologist Bob Henson. US sets new record for overnight low temperatures

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