July 7th, 2009
Austin’s 100-Degree Days

Visualizing the heat.

Every season has its symbols and traditions. Bluebonnets mean spring. Oxblood lilies, fall. And when I begin a fist-shaking litany of complaint about the heat, the drought, and how I want to move into a high-rise downtown and never garden again, my husband knows it’s summer.

“This is different.” I say. “Summer wasn’t always like this.”

My husband rolls his eyes.

Despite your visions of Texas as a tumbleweed filled barren desert, central Texas is not anything like the landscape from a John Wayne movie. (This is the Monument Valley in the Painted Desert of Arizona…a true desert.)
This is not central Texas.
This is not central Texas.

I know it’s pointless to keep acting as if nothing is different–to plan and plant and use water as if nothing has changed. By any measure, there is nothing normal about this heat: not the number of days, the time of year we’re having them, or the high temperatures that Austin has experienced the last two years in this critical-stage drought.

I come from the group of people who think that if they can only explain something well, then everyone will understand the obvious. Thus, I’m compelled to quantify my pain.

So I charted all the 100 degree and hotter days Austin has had from 2000 to 2009. I used the official temperatures from Camp Mabry (not ABIA or my neighborhood weather station). I wanted to put them all on one bar graph but there are so many I ended breaking them up by year. The graphs are wide (you have to scroll) which is why they are on a separate page and not embedded into this post.

How hot is it supposed to get?

I started the chart with 2000 for a couple of reasons. First, as I understand how the “average” temperature is calculated, the weather service takes an average over 30 years of the 3 previous decades. So the average we’re working with now is from 1971-2000. This is a cooler, wetter period than Austin in the 1950s or in the current decade. This decade is resetting what’s “normal” for Austin.

Austin's all time high of 112 degrees
But the year 2000 was also the September that broke all previous high temperature records in one horrible week. So I felt compelled to start with the trendsetter for this decade.

  • 8/31: 107°F. Record high for the date. 33 days 100 or above.
  • 9/01. 107°F. Hottest September temperature in history.
  • 9/02. 107°F.
  • 9/03. 108°F. New hottest September temperature in history.
  • 9/04. 110°F. Hottest temperature in Austin history.
  • 9/05. 112°F. New hottest temperature in Austin history. Hottest week in Austin history.

Altogether, the year 2000 had 42 days 100° or hotter over the summer. At that time, it was in third place. 2008 has already knocked it out of the record books, taking third place with 50 days. [2009 broke the record for third place again on August 10, with 51 days…and counting.]

When is it supposed to get hot? When is it supposed to stop?

In the 1990s, I’d start worrying about rain around Father’s Day. But I didn’t start moping about the heat until after the Fourth of July. Back-to-school rains would bring relief and temperatures would cool down to the 90s in September.

The statistics bear me out. While we might have the odd 100° day in June or even the last couple of days of May, generally the heat doesn’t arrive in Austin until July and it’s most prevalent in August.

Even in record-breaking 2000, the first 100° day wasn’t until July 12th. Contrast that with 2008 when the first 100° day was May 20th…almost two months earlier! July 12, 2008 was the twenty-fourth day of 100° heat last year. This year we started a little later than 2008 (June 13th) but the daily temperatures have been much higher. As of July 5th, 2009 Austin has had twenty 100° or hotter days. To put it another way, on this date (July 7th) the year 2000 had forty-two more days of 100° heat to come. What do you think is in store for 2009?

Austin's hottest September 2005
On average, the heat ends in August. But the year 2005 was also a record-breaker. The 100° days didn’t start until June 30th. Then there was a break from mid-July to mid-August. It looked like a normal September until the last week when Hurricane Rita slammed into Texas and Louisiana. No rain reached Austin but it had a crazy effect on our temperatures.

  • 9/25. 107°F. Previous record 97°.
  • 9/26. 107°F.
  • 9/27. 103°F.
  • 9/28. 106°F.

September 2005 is now the hottest September on record. And Austin shows the potential for 100° days from May 20th to September 28th: more than four months.

How many days is it supposed to be hot?

The average number of 100° days in Austin is 11. So, 2009 has already almost doubled the average.

This decade has had some cool years. After 2001 broke the record of 100 degree days or more in a row (19 in 1925; 21 in 2001) a record-breaking rainfall at the end of August ended the heat’s hold for 3 years. Over the 3-year period of 2002, 2003, and 2004 the combined, the total was only 9 days. After the devastating August of 2006, we had a gloriously abnormally, cool and wet year of 2007: only three 100° days that year, in August with a max temperature of exactly 100°. Ah, those were the days.

Then came 2008–pushing its way into the record books with the third most 100° or hotter days on record: 50 (breaking the third place record set in 2000 of 42).

With a record-breaking week of June temperatures and twenty 100° days already under our belt, 2009 looks grim.

Update: July 10, 2009

This just in from Jim Spencer at KXAN.

“[Austin] topped 100 degrees for the 23rd time this summer–eclipsing the number of 100 degree days one year ago today, at which point we were about halfway through what equalled the hottest summer on record in Austin…It’s not out of the question that we reach 100 degrees or hotter every day for the rest of July! If that happens, it will be become the longest stretch of consecutive triple digit days on record.”

Update: July 14, 2009

Lake Travis Shrinks to a 25 Year Low. The lake is dropping 1.5 feet a week. The current lake level is just above 640 feet; this is the fourth lowest level on record. The lowest level ever is August 1951 when it sank to 614.18.

Update: August 10, 2009

Today we break last year’s record of 50 triple digit days. Today is day 51 and we are now in third place behind 1925’s 69 days and 1923’s 66 days. Per KXAN’s Jim Spencer,

“As it stands today, this summer is by far the hottest ever recorded, with an average temperature of 88.3 degrees since June 1st. That is more than 1 full degree higher than the previous record set last year!”

Update: August 13, 2009

The “trigger point” has been reached for Stage 2 Drought Restrictions which will go into effect on August 24, 2009. The combined storage of lakes Buchanan and Travis has dropped to 900,000 acre-feet.

Update: September 3, 2009

We hit our 68th and final triple-digit temperature of 2009. We come within one day of tying the all time record (69 in 1925). Glad it’s over but it seems unfair to suffer so much and not get the record.

“From a vegetative standpoint, I think we’re going to be seeing the impacts of this drought for many years to come, many of our old native trees around this area are severely stressed during this drought.” — Bob Rose, LCRA meteorologist

by M Sinclair Stevens

46 Responses to post “Austin’s 100-Degree Days”

  1. From Kathy (New York):

    Scary. And beyond our control.

    The conditions may be beyond our control but our response to it is not. People waste water here because it’s cheap and easy to get (just turn on the tap). Consider this couple who threatened to sue because the lawn wasn’t green. (via Annieinaustin). Or the kind of landscapes people put in: for example Lance Armstrong. — mss

  2. From Carol, May Dreams Gardens:

    How much are those high rise apartments? If this is all cyclical, you’d think you were due for a break by now.

    (We had four 90+ degree days in June in Indpls. this year, then a very cool week last week. I don’t know what to make of it, but we had maybe 6 90+ days last summer, and none in June. Our worst year for 90+ degree days was 1983 with 50+.)

  3. From Bob Pool:

    That chart must have taken some work, but it was worth it. You can really see we are in an extended heat wave. I have lived here all my life[59yrs,] and can’t remember 100 degree days in such profusion. I had always heard old timers say heat for seven, cool for five, meaning heat waves usually lasted for seven years and then cooler years for five. Your chart shows that to be wrong.

    Thanks for doing the chart M, I enjoyed looking at it. Bob

    Thanks. It was a lot of work. Most of the information came from the wonderful KXAN Weather Diaries but they’ve stopped updating them. So the last 12 months came from the Weather Underground which does not have as good commentary. Then the data had to be hand-entered (so there are probably typos that will need fixing). According to the 2000 weather diary, it was the third year of drought. Perhaps old timers are referring to the 7-year drought which lasted from 1950 to 1956. (Wow! You were born right at the beginning of that drought; I, at the end of it). It is the gold standard of Texas droughts. I can only hope that this weather pattern is cyclical, rather than a result of permanent climate change. But even if only lasts 5 more years, Austin is in trouble. The population of central Texas has increased amazingly since the 1950s. At the same time individual water use has increased, people have built swimming pools and ponds, and HOAs demand green lawns. More people. Less water. If we don’t change our habits and our thinking, I believe Austin is going to have an Atlanta-type disaster. –mss

  4. From Lori, Austin TX:

    Well, I’m glad we can now back up our collective bitching with your helpful visual aid! But snarkiness aside, that is one sobering chart you’ve made there. It really makes me wonder if I should just give up on all of my unhappy roses and just put in a xeriscape garden instead. I’m watering far more than I’m comfortable with, and by the looks of things, it’s only gonna get worse.

    I don’t consider it snarkiness–that was the point of all this work. I get tired of people thinking I’m whining about the same old thing. Maybe it is the same old whining but it’s a new and serious thing. — mss

  5. From Lori, Austin TX:

    You’re right, it’s not snarkiness. I’m just sick of seeing people’s eyes glaze over whenever I get onto the subject of water in Texas. But whether they want to or not, people are going to learn a lot about the issue within the next few years. Austin’s water resources can’t sustain the current level of population growth. I don’t understand why there isn’t more urgency to change behaviors, but I guess that’s humanity for ya.

  6. From cat - austin, texas:

    thank you so much for breaking this all down. i too get the glazed over look from people when discussing the weather…or that look in their eye that says, “why do you live in texas then?” i’m not looking forward to what the rest of summer has to bring…maybe i can hope for a cold winter? i’m grasping huh? 😉

    i think we all have room to complain with the drought and heat….what is going to happen to our water supply? lake travis is getting lower and lower, next will be lake austin. my plants are doing alright, but i hand water everyday at this point. deep soaking seems to only last a day anymore in some areas of the garden. other areas can handle it with shade, and the veggies are not all burning up completely since we put in 63% shade cloth coupled with a 30% one. i’m trying to save some of them until fall, we’ll see how that goes…*sigh*

  7. From Cindy, MCOK:

    MSS, it’s hard not to be emotional about the weather issues confronting us. Your information proves we have good reason to be. Thanks for putting in the effort.

  8. From Annie in Austin:

    Great visuals, MSS – and what fine work you have done! You’ve been immersing yourself in weather statistics while I’ve been on a couple of genealogy benders. It does appear that summer is worse than it used to be but it’s always seemed awful to me.

    Long before we left Illinois we heard my San Antonio cousin bemoan the horrible Central Texas summer and when we came here it was just as bad as we’d expected.

    At both of our far NW Austin houses we’d often check the official weather measurements and then compare those numbers to what our own thermometers and rain gauges recorded, frequently jotting the temperatures down on calenders or in my garden diary.

    Over the past 10 years there were many days when the official temperature was recorded as being in the high 90’s while at my house it was over 100°F . In winter we’d see Austin’s official temperature listed as upper twenties but my thermometer might say 18°F.

    Since one must use some arbitrary number as the tipping point, the round number 100°F makes sense, but I suspect that the over/under 100°F line would be fuzzier if I had my own personal weather graphs.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    My own thermometer and the weather station closest to me (BCNA) also vary from Camp Mabry. ABIA is frequently more extreme. That’s why I thought it was important to stick with Camp Mabry because its records go back to 1856. Choosing 100° for the cut-off was arbitrary. I thought of doing 99 but that would have been a lot more work! Again, it’s the number the National Weather Service counts, in addition to first and last freeze and first and number of 90° days. As far as plants go, I believe that plants start stressing at 94°. The American Horticulture Society’s Heat Zone Map considers the number of days above 86°F/30°C as “the point at which plants begin suffering physiological damage from heat.” If that’s so…! — mss

  9. From frank@nycgarden:

    I often gauge a drought by the look of my native asters. If they’re droopy and taxed, I say drought. I have friends who water with hoses that are essentially, directly tied to Catskill reservoirs. I complain we are in a drought and they say, no way! They don’t want to hear it.

    When it gets hot, often it is connected to drought, no clouds to cool the air, the soil always storing and radiating heat. Westerly winds, dry-ish heat is the worst for us. But until our reservoirs start dropping, the news doesn’t mention it.

    The pattern for us has been Lows above, Highs below, keeping us moist and relatively cool for the last month or so. Those same Highs seem to work with Rocky Mountain Lows acting like a heat pump, bring it up across Texas.
    Stay cool.

    No. People don’t want to hear news that might mean they have to change. Even the heat advisory in today’s paper was met with comments of “So it’s hot. In Texas. In the summer. You call that news?” Well, yes. This is news. Also, there seems to be very little civic spirit, any feeling that we’re in this together. I think a lot of people who were raised indoors don’t care much about or understand the inter-relatedness of these complex natural systems. Gardeners, at least those who spend time observing (as you do with your asters) are much more sensitive to the changes. No wonder we enjoy talking (complaining, griping, weeping) about the weather. — mss

  10. From Mr. McGregor's Daughter:

    Basing averages on a 30 year period seems very short sighted to me, and an “average” temperature is often just the adding and dividing of the highest and lowest, not a reflection of what is actually normal. But by any measure, it’s hotter than blue blazes in Austin and without the mediating effect of rain, you all are suffering. I hope this is just a temporary anomaly and not the new norm.

    We do too! — mss

  11. From Jan:

    We are having almost the same type of summer here in South Louisiana. We are in a drought, too. I don’t know if I am getting old or what, but the heat is killing us. We have had three showers in the last week after a month of no rain at all, but the weatherman says that is going away by tomorrow, and the heat will be back. Can’t wait for October.

    Always Growing

  12. From ryan:

    I’m curious about the place where the temperature is taken, if the land around it has changed in the last decade, and if the temperatures in areas outside of Austin are getting hotter. The heat-island effect could be making the city hotter. I’m guessing that Austin has added a lot of development in the last decade, so perhaps that is contributing to the days getting hotter. Maybe those high-rise apartments are making the city hotter. But I really don’t know much about heat-island or weather data or Austin. Whatever it is, you have my sympathy. 100 degrees is too hot.

    Camp Mabry is a military installation about three miles northwest of downtown in a residential area bound on one side by the MoPac expressway. I live only 1/2 a mile south of downtown and can provide anecdotal evidence about the downtown’s heat sink effect. For example I did not get a single killing freeze last winter although the official Austin records show several freezes and friends in northwest Austin had freeze damage. I do not think that the changes in our weather pattern are micro-climate anomalies. I think you would see similar patterns anywhere central Texas that you took the readings. The primary cause of the overall pattern is the drought and that covers an area counties-wide in central Texas–dry dirt heats up more quickly and our ground is bone dry at the moment. As Jim Spencer of KXAN weather writes, “…this summer has the potential to be even hotter than last year, possibly the hottest ever!” Specifically the unusually high temperatures this June and throughout July is being caused by upper level ridge of high pressure that spans most of the US at the moment. — mss

  13. From Philip (flip) Kromer:


    If you’d like richer data to play with, I pulled an extract from the National Climate Data Center’s global daily dataset for the area around Austin and posted it to infochimps.org:


    There’s two files. austin_daily_weather has one reading per day back to 1948. (takes the closest-to-downtown weather station operational on that day). This is smallish (3MB) and is the best bet if you’re working with excel.

    If for whatever reason you want meatier fare, central_texas_daily_weather.tsv is 47MB and covers all the weather stations within about 100 miles. You can probably figure out how to adapt the sql files in scripts/ to load these. It has no header rows, but see the readme.

  14. From Melanie (Elgin, Texas):

    Great post! (In a dismal, dispiriting way)–I love the data. I’ve become increasingly weather-obsessive over the past few years, and I usually go to the National Drought Monitor and NOAA’s Seasonal Drought Outlook when I want my drought data fix. Ryan, if you’re interested, you can visit either to see a map of the spread of the Texas drought. mss has already covered my feelings about this drought more eloquently and intelligently than I’ve ever managed, but I have to add: God, it sucks. It sucks, it sucks, it sucks.

    I think “it sucks” pretty much sums it up. — mss

  15. From Robin at Getting Grounded:

    MSS, thanks for the impressive piece of work. I’ve been thinking about Atlanta myself – how much worse were they than we are now? I have plants that were put in last year, when I created new beds around a new fence installation. They are now more than a year old, and have scarcely grown. It’s discouraging for me, a newbie to this intensive gardening hobby.

    Yes, these last two years could be very discouraging to people trying gardening in central Texas for the first time, either because they’ve just moved here from gentler climes or because they are new to gardening. However, one bright spot is to discover (from posts like this) that this isn’t our normal weather. If you can survive these drought years, the rest should be easy. The good news just in is that El Niño is on the way. It won’t help Austin anytime soon but if rains do come in the fall and winter, next year should be better for gardeners. — mss

  16. From Libby:

    Your stats confirm our gut; that we’re in unchartered territory. Something Lori wrote resonates for me: I’m watering more than I’m comfortable with. It’s hard to avoid some ethical/moral issues of our desire to have plants that clearly weren’t meant for this climate. And what’s worse, the watering I AM doing, is not making a dent in keeping things from suffering severe damage.

    This is really the subject for a whole new post and one I think about a lot. On the one hand, if the weather is atypical then even natives can’t be expected to do well–this is no longer the climate to which they adapted. Right now the happiest (green without supplemental irrigation) plants in my yard are invasives like nandina and chinaberry. On the other hand, if everyone plants cacti from the desert southwest when El Niño arrives they will rot. If we stop planting at all, then we aren’t providing wildlife habitat (when the wildlife most needs our help) nor improving and mulching the soil, to keep it cool when it’s hot and dry and to prevent run-off when it’s wet. So in spite of our water usage, I have to encourage gardeners–if they water wisely and carefully. — mss

  17. From Philip (flip) Kromer:

    I pulled the NCDC weather for Austin from 1948-present. (See link for details).

    This temperature cycle is hotter than but comparable to the 1950-1965 era. I’ve got no idea if it’s global warming or the peak of a cycle, but it reinforces my desire to drive less and vote democratic. The fundamental conclusion — that this year so far, 2000 and 2008 were damn hot — stands up well.

    Here’s a year-on-year time series similar to yours. It shows degrees over 100F for days where the temperature exceeded 100F. Each year’s baseline is one grid cell higher than the previous, with the bars allowed to overlap (this results in a darker cell on the few occasions they do). Check that Indian summer in 2005!

    Here’s a histogram of temperature by four-year group. The vertical scale shows temperature in 2.5 degF blocks, and the inner scale shows #days with that temperature. Gridlines show 100,95,90 (red) and 45,40,35 (blue). The last four years and 1996-2001 were unusually hot, but the intervening four years were mild against the 30-year block. Keep in mind the last (2006-2009) block is incomplete.

    Did you know that Austin temperatures are far more likely to be in the 70s -or- 90s than they are to be 83-90 degrees?

    Here’s that last chart but year-by-year; click to see it in size ginormous.

    Thank you so much for these links! The last one is especially cool. I like that it has both the days 100°+ and 95°+. As far as the plants are concerned, they seem to begin really suffering if the temperatures are above the mid-90s. I’m beginning to think we’re going to need a new chart of 105°+ days. — mss

  18. From JB:

    I seem to remember many 100+ days in Austin in the mid 1950s. If my memory is correct, at one point Austin either had or was going for 30 days straight or a whole month of over 100+ temperature, a new record. We kids, of course, wanted to break the record. For AC we had a Swamp cooler. We would crank up the water supply and sit in from of the hurricane mist. While we must have had mold everywhere, I guess it didn’t kill us. If I should be so lucky to have hit a golf ball down the fairway at Hancock, it would disappear forever down a deep crack in the black gumbo. We rode the buses everywhere and only had one car.

    Thanks for sharing your memories of the famous 1950s drought. I hope this one doesn’t last seven years like that one did! 1951 had 32 days of 100°+ temperatures and 1957 had 31 but they weren’t in a row. The record for most consecutive 100°plus days used to be 1925 with 19. That record was broken in 2001 with 21 consecutive days (38 total days). It is possible that we will break the 2001 record this month. — mss

  19. From ryan:

    A lot of interesting data. It’s hard to personally gauge rising temperatures in the Bay Area because the Central Valley and the Pacific Ocean act as a giant swamp cooler. Heat waves in the valley cause fog to blow through the Bay Area and drive the temperatures down. We end up obsessing about our snow pack and rainfall, instead, which are definitely on very alarming trends.

  20. From Pam/Digging:

    An informative post, MSS. We’ve all felt that this year isn’t normal, and I’ve only lived here since 1994, so I don’t have as much personal experience with cooler years as you do. Like Libby, I’m watering more than I’m comfortable with right now. The Knock Out roses are suffering, as are some of the salvias, tough plants all. Thank god for the shade in my new garden. It’s been a lifesaver for the new plants, as well as for keeping evaporation of the pool very low (we’ve only had to add a little water once this summer).

    I hope this drought doesn’t represent a new trend, but I’m going to be gardening as if this is the new reality. I told my husband yesterday that when I start planting in the front yard, I’m going to use very xeric plants, like agaves, sotols, and some ornamental grasses, and much fewer flowering perennials than I used to. I plan to berm the new beds with very sharp-draining soil so that the plants can make it through any future wet years, if ever those come again. I think heat and drought may eventually alter Austin’s landscaping “look” to be more like Phoenix’s. I just hope the live oaks can hold out. I can’t imagine Austin without them.

    I hope that Austin never looks like Phoenix. I grew up in Albuquerque and Las Vegas (NV) and I stayed in central Texas because I loved that it had trees and lakes and grass. I bet during the spring you didn’t appreciate the shade the way you do now. I always resent my big trees in April and appreciate them in July. Although I have more cacti and succulents than I used to, my heart does not go out to them. I hope everyone who is making the switch realizes, as you do, that if you are going to plant non-native desert plants then you are going to have to bring in desert-like soil or everything will rot out in the next wet year just like it did in 2007. Even herbs like rosemary and lavender are unhappy when our black clay is waterlogged. — mss

  21. From Jenny Austin:

    I don’t know whether to think of this piece as depressing or exciting! To be part of a record heat setting year! However to read this when I am sitting in a much cooler place is really scary. After all I am no where near my garden and am wondering what will be left over there when I return. I really did the right thing bringing my little babies with me. I’m with you on the xeric plants from now on. All my dreaming about those gorgeous English gardens I visited dashed on the hill sides of west Austin.

    Well, if it’s going to be this miserable I’m glad it’s breaking records. Yesterday (7/14) Lake Travis fell to its lowest level in 25 years and the drought made the national broadcast news. The only solace I can find is that whatever survives this will survive anything (but I said that in 2006 and this is worse). I do feel better knowing that El Niño is on the way. Maybe it will be a temporary reprieve or maybe it will break the pattern. Whichever it is, it gives me something to look forward to. — mss

  22. From Alex [Wimberley]:

    We used to joke and refer to a xeriscape as a “zeroscape”. Now I’m thinking a zeriscape is actually a lush, green, vibrant garden filled with succulents, cacti, and other drought tolerant (and extreme heat tolerant) flora. A zeroscape is dirt lawn, beds “planted” with rocks and a few hold outs in the greenery department. We have prickly pear cacti that are drying up and dying, huge cedars that croak and turn from full green to brushfire brown in a matter of weeks. Everything out here is stunted and croaking.

    No bueno.

  23. From Country Gardener:

    Yikes, I feel for you. That kind of heat and drought would make me suicidal. Well, to be less radical, it would certainly make me quit gardening. (I’m happy to be a cold climate gardener.)

  24. From Elias (Austin):

    Thank you for doing all the data compilation/summary on this. At first I was casually looking for some record of “most days above 100 in Austin” just to satisfy my own sense that this year’s June-July span was atypically hot. I thought maybe the news channels would have a running total—maybe they do? In any case, I found your blog in the process…

    Anyway, it’s now July 17 so maybe you’ve updated the count? It’s about 31 days total, right?

    Yes. 7/17=31, 7/18=32. Looks like we’ll stay in the 90s on 7/19 tho. I will have to continually update throughout the rest of the summer. We are about half way through now. — mss

  25. From Elias (Austin):

    I meant to note: Another commenter asked about Mabry and questioned whether rising temperatures could be tied directly to the expansion of the city, etc. In my (unscientific) experience driving MoPac almost daily north and south, the temperature is almost invariably highest near Duval/Burnet Rds and then “drops” incrementally by several degrees as I approach downtown. That’s always seemed counter-intuitive. The digital sign at Mabry, incidentally, almost always indicates a signficantly higher temperature than the weather station there eventually records. That’s not surprising, really. I assume the sign isn’t reporting official data; rather it’s ‘reading’ a thermometer that’s positioned too close to MoPac. Anyway, it’s the hot spot on MoPac… today it indicated 109F.

  26. From Jac Round Rock:

    Just wondering what the “over 100” count is through July 19? My husband and I have a bet, he says it’s under 20 and I say over 20, closer to 30.

    See above. 32 on 7/18. 33 on 7/19–we weren’t suppose to make it to 100 today but we did. Or look at the chart. — mss

  27. From Shoshana Austin:

    I think it’s 35 100+ days now.

    Our neighbors on both sides have lost Bradford Pears. 2 last year and 1 this year, And today, a native (at least it was there before our houses) hackberry fell over.

    Knock on wood our trees are still ok – we have elms (winged or cedar I can’t tell the difference but they do have wings)

  28. From Linda Lehmusvirta Austin Texas:

    Oh my gosh! What a chart. Have you considered a career in meteorology? I’ll be keeping this one for future reference.

  29. From Ron:

    Thanks, for the chart it looks great I hope you keep it updated. You are right about the water problems facing Austin and surrounding areas. I live in Pflugerville and one of our public water works director when on record stating that we have more water reserved than we know what to do with. It is this type of talk that makes people think that everything is ok, and we can water as much as we want. I see the water running down the street every morning from people over watering their lawns. And then the issue with HOAs wanting everyone to green lawns; stop using grass that requires a lot of water and go with native grasses and they could cut down on the amount of water they use. Some good choices are Bermuda, zoysia, and buffalo.

    I will try to keep the chart updated but I’ll probably only do it week by week. I don’t understand why people refuse to take personal responsibility and pitch in to do the right thing for all of us. I guess it’s easier to pretend there is no problem than to admit that we need to take some action–that change is our responsibility. — mss

  30. From Bruce Tate:

    From my Firefox toolbar: Lake Travis levels.

    Now at 635 and dropping. Last night’s rain didn’t make a dent.

  31. From peter in austin:

    highest temperature . . . . hottest weather (or days).

  32. From Sarah from Toronto Gardens:

    Fascinating discussion about the extreme difficulties you Southerners go through to garden in this challenging climate. Not only the heat but the black clay and El Nino. I learned a lot.

    As for water conservation, sadly it is one of those “you don’t miss what you’ve got till it’s gone situations”. Municipal water systems and piped water make people stupid. They think that turning on the tap means that water will come out of it forever, just because it’s coming out of it today. Hard to know what to do to educate people.

  33. From Zandt in Austin:

    I always think of summer as our winter. Here’s why:

    1. The temperature is so extreme that you rarely spend much time outside.
    2. The temperature is so extreme that you don’t plant things in this season, because you know they’ll die without insane amounts of maintenance.

    We avoid planting between mid-April and mid-September if at all possible. Good heavens…today is our 60th day of 100 F plus. At this point, we might as well go for ten more and break the all-time record. What Hell.

  34. From Greg in Travis Heights, Austin:

    I agree, Zandt. I told a neighbor the other day that this is our Siberian winter as we both surveyed our dead vegetation and my pile of stuff behind my house that I need to sort through and/or haul off — when it’s not fatal to do so.

    I am a contractor and have a long waiting list of outdoor jobs that I simply won’t do. I did knock out a few of them last month but got heat exhaustion and gave myself a stern lecture. (Oh, and get this, one of the to-do’s is repairing a client’s gutters. As if.)

    Our whole household is in such a funk. It’s hard to know how much of it is the heat, but it I can assure you it is a factor.

  35. From Don Day, Brushy Creek area, North Austin:

    Fascinating discussion! I found some additional records at the Southern Region office of National Weather Service. I’m not sure where these are linked from, but the URL for other months is easy to guess. The July report (and its contained links!) makes it clear that records are being broken left and right during this extended dry/hot spell:
    July 2009 Weather in Review

  36. From Zandt in Austin:

    Greg, we get the summer blues, too. I’d say my husband and I both get a summer version of Seasonal Affective Disorder because we just. can’t. go. outside. most of the time. You get cabin fever! It’s enough to send one packing for the Pacific Northwest or New England.

    Today we tied the second place record for number of 100+ F days at Camp Mabry, at 66. Four more, and we’ll have broken 1925’s record, 69.

    San Antonio International Airport and Bergstrom’s weather station have both already broken their records.

  37. From mark:

    wow….found this page, it is fun to read!

    well, if last summer was a record for hot, this one (2010) may be a record for Cool! it is July 21st and we have not yet hit 100….we may not hit it until some time in August. of course, if our average is only 11 days of 100 degree temperature (which surprised me!), then maybe this is just a “normal” summer?

    Thanks for leaving a comment and reminding me that I needed to finish updating the chart to show the triple digit days for the August and September of 2009. I’ve done that now. It was a terrible, terrible year. — mss

  38. From Kathy (Austin):

    Interesting post. Thanks for doing all this research and chart making. How is 2011 shaping up? Seems pretty intense so far.

    2011 looks grim. So far more hot days earlier and hotter than any previous year. — mss

  39. From Vernon (Austin):

    It is another hot one this year. It even looks like we have a good chance to break the record of 69 days of triple didget days. By my coculations, we can beat that reacord by 10 days.

  40. From Joe Goodman, Austin:

    Enjoyed the post!
    Say, any idea where I can find a history of temps for Austin? A simple list of every date and the high temperature for that date is what I’m interested in.
    Many thanks!

  41. From Joe Goodman, Austin:

    Link to a count of 100 degree days in Austin for 2011:

  42. From Real Low Down, San Remo, Italy:

    Hi, Kids.

    I’m Austin born & raised & I remember the end of the Great Drought of 1950-57 (mainly I remember an incredible plague of locusts and crickets that died by [what seemed like] the hundreds of thousands in the shopping centers of Burnet Road, and of course that everything seemed brown and scorched).

    My main memories of Austin though are from later years, from approximately 1965 through 1979 (I left Texas almost, but not quite, for good in 1979), and I just don’t recall any summer during that period in which we had more than 8-9 100 degree or more days. But I want to check my memory (it will play tricks on you). Does anyone know of a website that has this sort of data for Austin from 1950 (or even better from 1900)?

    Ciao, y’all.

    (Just call me) Real Low Down

  43. From Austin Treasure:

    I see on today’s news that we have broke the record in 2011 by having 24 consecutive days over 100, and we have now had 56 days total over 100. But it also says the record was set in 1925 of 69 days over 100. It has been 48 days since we’ve had rain.

  44. From Jason (Austin):

    I know you’re not updating the 2011 chart every day, but the data appears off for the days you do have charted. Are you using National Weather Service data? We hit 50 days of 100+ degree weather on 8/3; it appears that you have 47 days listed through 8/2. NWS data shows that 7/31 and 8/1 were 100+ degree days (part of our record 27-day streak). Thanks.

  45. From Jonathan Abbey:

    Thanks for your graph. I’m sharing it on Google+ at



  46. From Bennette (Austin):

    We are now into September, with only 2-3 days below 100, I think. Love to find current stats, but thanks for what you have done here!