Summer 2016 was one of the hottest recorded in the state of Louisiana. In New Orleans, the temperatures hadn’t dropped below 26.7 °C (80 °F) for 43 nights, smashing the previous records set in 2010, when such a situation was reported for only 10 nights.
According to Dr. Barry Keim, Louisiana State Climatologist, in combination with hot weather conditions, the total summer rainfalls have by far surpassed a 1000-year event at several locations. Warm conditions have brought average minimum temperatures of 23 °C (73.5 °F), 24 °C (75.3 °F), 24 °C (75.3 °F) and 22.2 °C (72 °F) for June, July, August, and September, recorded at the New Orleans International Airport.
Such sweltering temperatures resulted from enhanced evaporation off the Gulf of Mexico and above average humidity levels and dew point temperatures across the city, according to meteorologists. During an average summer, the city sees only 2.1 nights with temperatures climbing above 26.7 °C (80 °F).
According to data depicting forty-year average nighttime temperatures, the nights are getting warmer across the US. The records at Metro Airport in Baton Rouge can be tracked all the way from 1930. In the period between 1930 and 1969, the average low summer temperature was 22 °C (71.73 °F) while between 1970 and 2015, they increased to 22.47 °C (72.44 °F).
Experts warn the high nighttime minimum temperatures can seriously affect health, especially in elderly and people who don’t have air conditioning. They can also put a pressure on power grids, and have a negative effect on crops and farm animals, according to the 2014 National Climate Assessment.
Featured image credit: Dr. Barry Keim