Weekend highs reinforce Columbia's warm weather trend

Monday, June 25, 2012 | 6:45 p.m. CDT
Looking around Columbia to see how heat has affected the wildlife. Sunday temperatures at Columbia Regional Airport reached 100 degrees, the hottest day of the year so far. Forecasts for Thursday predict a high of 103 degrees.

COLUMBIA — Temperatures reached the 100-degree mark in Columbia on Sunday, making it the hottest day so far in a year of persistently warm weather. 

Weather stations at Sanborn Field and Columbia Regional Airport recorded high temperatures of 100 degrees, with the airport sustaining that temperature for at least an hour. It was the first time since Aug. 2 that temperatures reached triple digits.

But forecasts predict that threshold stands to be broken again soon.

The work week began Monday with some relief from the heat, with temperatures expected to remain in the upper 80s. Those conditions are expected to carry over to Tuesday.

However, Wednesday forecasts show a dramatic spike in heat, with daily highs set around 100 degrees through Friday. The National Weather Service and The Weather Channel both forecast Thursday's high at 103 degrees, which would break Sunday's record for this year.

The recent heat spell follows what has been officially recorded as the warmest-ever start to the calendar year for Columbia and St. Louis. Both cities experienced record warmth in March, which meteorologists say helped boost the temperature average to a record-breaking 55.8 degrees in Columbia, and 57.7 degrees in St. Louis.

According to the same data, two of the top ten warmest starts to the calendar year have occurred in Columbia within the last ten years. Half of the warmest starts have occurred within the last 25 years.

This pattern has also been consistent across the United States, leading many climatologists to believe a warming trend is in effect, according to an article in the Washington Post.

The upward trend, however, doesn't necessarily indicate that global warming is in effect, said Jim Kramper, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in St. Louis.

"There will always be local variability," Kramper said. "The trends have all been pointing to a warming phase, but that won't be known for sure until sometime in the future when we can look back at the range of data."

One certainty, though, is that high temperatures and scant rainfall have left Columbia drier than usual, and area farmers have been feeling its adverse effects. No significant rainfall is predicted through July 4, according to the National Weather Service.

There's also no indication that the heat will let up any time soon, but Kramper said a warmer spring doesn't necessarily indicate a hotter summer.

"You can't really pin one season on the next," Kramper said. "A lot of people think that, but we have found too many examples that point to the exact opposite."

Supervising editor is John Schneller.

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