Few people in the Tri-Cities are rooting for the return of sustained summer heat more than Holly Cabel.
Cabel, director of recreation at the St. Charles Park District, oversees operations at St. Charles’ public pool facilities, including the Otter Cove Aquatic Park.
And to date, she said, the relatively cool weather of the late spring and early summer has meant visitors to such aquatic playgrounds have found the crowds sparse, if existent at all, with attendance at Otter Cove down so far this summer by about one-third from the same period in 2012.
“We’re a weather-driven enjoyment for many,” Cabel said. “And when it’s cool and rainy like it’s been, it’s just not all that enjoyable.”
Next week, Cabel and others looking for summer heat finally may find what they have sought this summer – temperatures are expected to climb to around 90 degrees or higher, according to the National Weather Service and other forecasters.
If so, it would mark a rare time this year that temperatures have exceeded 90 degrees, depending on which records are examined, said Gilbert Sebenste, meteorologist at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.
Sebenste said official NWS records for June recorded no 90-degree temperatures in the region for the month.
But near Chicago, the mercury did top 90 degrees for one day last month.
In June 2012, the region recorded seven days with daytime high temperatures above 90 degrees.
While temperatures have warmed since the calendar flipped to July, they have remained significantly cooler than what was seen in the area during the same period last year.
For instance, while daytime high temperatures climbed into the 80s over Independence Day weekend, the three-day period of July 4 to 6, 2012, recorded consecutive high temperatures in excess of 100 degrees.
“The bottom line is, we had quite a few more days above 90 degrees last year,” Sebenste said.
At the same time, the region also has been significantly wetter this summer than last.
Sebenste noted that in June 2012, about 2 inches of rain fell in the region.
In June 2013, more than 7 inches of rain fell locally.
“It’s been pretty much the opposite of last year,” Sebenste said.
June continued a trend in place throughout the spring, when record amounts of rain fell.
Sebenste noted that, in all of 2012, the region logged about 24 inches of moisture.
Through the first six months of 2013, about 27 inches of moisture had fallen.
The return of summer heat should help farmers, whose corn and other crops could grow rapidly, and water park operators, who rely on hot, sunny days to draw in swimmers.
“We had a great Fourth of July, and we’re hoping for even better numbers the rest of the summer,” Cabel said. “Now, we’re hoping for a little help from the weather.”
By the numbers
The summer to date has been cooler and rainier than 2012. While that weather has kept many people from enjoying typical summer activities, it also could produce less expensive energy bills for many, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said. How much less?
• $395 – average amount U.S. household expected to pay for electricity in June, July and August
• 2.5 percent – amount that electricity bill is expected to decrease this summer vs. 2012
• 4.6 percent – amount of decrease in energy usage per household, on average, this summer
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration