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Dallas Sets Record for Most 100-Degree Days

Record years in Dallas for annual and consecutive 100 F days.
Record years in Dallas for annual and consecutive 100 F days. (Image credit: NWS Dallas/Fort Worth.)

Dallas has hotfooted into the weather record books today (Sept. 13), according to the National Weather Service (NWS), with an unprecedented number of 100-degree-or-above days.

The mercury hit at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) 70 times this year, a new record for most 100 F days in a year for the city. The city tied its 1980 record of 69 days at 100 F yesterday.

"Record-breaking day," said Matt Moiser, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, Texas.

Another sweaty record set in 1980 still stands. That year, Dallas saw 42 consecutive 100 F days, from June 23 to Aug. 3. This year came close to catching that record, with 40 straight days at 100 F in Dallas from July 2 to Aug. 10. (Death Valley holds the U.S. record for consecutive 100 F days, with 154 in 2001.) [Related: The 9 Hottest Places on Earth]

Every day in July 1980 hit at least 100 F, also a Dallas record. July 2011 came one day short of matching the 1980 mark.

On the flip side of Dallas' weather record book, 1973 and 1906 are the only years to not have a single 100 F day.

Dallas should see some relief from the heat later this week, as highs drop into the mid-80s F.

"A cold front does look like it's going to come through Thursday morning," Moiser told OurAmazingPlanet.

Texas scorcher

An epic drought, scorching heat and deadly wildfires have plagued Texas for months and continue to singe the land. Texas' current drought is themost severe one-year drought on record, according to Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon of Texas A&M University.

August 2011 was the hottest month in Texas history, according to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). Statewide, the average temperature was 88.1 F (31.2 C) in August, breaking the previous record of 87.1 F (30.6 C) set last month.

As hot as the weather has been in Dallas, smaller towns have had it even worse.Abilene, Texas, has had 79 days of 100 F heat as of Sept. 12, besting a city record of 46 days set in 1934. San Angelo, Texas, has seen 96 days of 100 F heat this year.

The hot and dry weather has created dangerous fire conditions. Nearly 18,612 wildfires have burned 3.5 million acres of Texas so far this year, according to the Texas Forest Service. That's about the size of Connecticut.

Outside Dallas

While the weather in Texas has been brutal, it hasn't been a picnic elsewhere. At least one weather station in all 50 states set or tied a daily high temperature record at some point during July 2011. Almost 9,000 daily heat records were broken or tied in July, including 2,755 highest maximum temperatures and 6,171 highest minimum temperatures (nighttime records), according to the NCDC.

Newark, N.J., set an all-time high of 108 F (42.2 C) on July 22, breaking the previous record of 105 F (40.6 C), set in 2001.

In Washington, D.C., Dulles International Airport recorded its highest July temperature of all time at 105 F (40.6 C), on July 22.

You can follow OurAmazingPlanet staff writer Brett Israel on Twitter: @btisrael. Follow OurAmazingPlanet for the latest in Earth science and exploration news on Twitter @OAPlanet and on Facebook.

Brett Israel was a staff writer for Live Science with a focus on environmental issues. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from The University of Georgia, a master’s degree in journalism from New York University, and has studied doctorate-level biochemistry at Emory University.