August ended in Santa Cruz County with two rainy and relatively cool days. But the scorching heat of the other 29 days of the month made it the hottest August the area has experienced in at least two decades.
According to readings taken at the Nogales International Airport by the National Weather Service, the average daily high temperature last month was 98.9 degrees, well above the normal daily high for August of 91.4 degrees.
Heading into the final three days of last month, the average daily high was 100.5, but high temperatures of 93, 79 and 79 on Saturday, Sunday and Monday knocked the average back into double digits.
In all, the mercury reached 100 degrees or more at the airport on 20 days last month, by far the highest number for August in the 20 years for which National Weather Service data is available. The previous high came in August 2011, when the heat hit 100 or more on eight days. In nine of the past 20 Augusts, there wasn’t a single day of triple-digit heat.
The hottest days last month were Aug. 13, 15, 19 and 27, when the temperature reached 104.
The daily high was below 95 on only four days, and below 93 just twice – the last two days of the month.
The average daily low temperature was 67.7, topping the monthly average of 63.4.
The blistering heat of August followed another month of unusually high temperatures in July, when the average daily high at the airport was 99.2 degrees, well above the normal daily high of 93.5 and a record for the 20 years for which NWS data is available from the airport.
There were 17 days of triple-digit heat in July – another record high. With 12 days of 100-degree highs recorded in June and four in May, the local area had seen 53 days of triple-digit temperatures in 2020 heading into September.
There may be even more to come. The NWS has issued an Excessive Heat Watch for parts of southeast Arizona from Friday morning through Monday evening, and while Santa Cruz County was not included in the warning, the local forecast still calls for highs at or near 100.