Nature Notes, by Jim Gilbert
Here in the Carver County area we have had well over 20 days this year with a high temperature of 90 degrees or above. On July 17 the water temperature of Lake Waconia hit a warm 86 degrees F.
During July the central part of North America heats up with sunny skies and southwesterly or westerly winds providing the hottest temperatures of the year. The Atlantic Ocean high pressure systems move inland to clear the skies and diminish rainfall. July is the warmest and sunniest month of the year everywhere in the Upper Midwest except for a few locations along Lake Superior.
Using pioneer records going back to 1819 at Fort Snelling, the average high temperature for July 26 is 86 degrees, and that marks the date as statistically our hottest day of the year in the Twin Cities.
It’s the peak of summer. The warmest air temperature ever recorded for the Twin Cities was 108 degrees on July 14, 1936. On July 6, 1936 the temperature rose to 114 degrees in Moorhead. On July 29, 1917 the temperature hit 114.5 degrees in Beardsley; the highest ever recorded in Minnesota.
Bad Water, California, in Death Valley at 282 feet below sea level, is where the record high temperature for North America, 134 degrees F. was measured on July 10, 1913.
What’s happening outdoors now?
Both great ragweed (started July 17) and common ragweed (started July 18) are shedding pollen. Last year they got started shedding pollen on August 1 and 2. Purple coneflowers attract numerous butterflies. Annual cicadas sing (buzz) on warm days and can be heard until one-half hour after sunset. We have been hearing the enchanting sound of the snowy tree crickets since July 14. Last year they began calling on July 31.
Snowy tree crickets chirp with a shrill tuneful and persistent "chee-chee-chee," also described as "treat-treat-treat,’ sort of a sleigh bell-like sound. If you count the number of chirps in 15 seconds and add 40, you will have the approximation of the air temperature in degrees Fahrenheit.
So far most fields of corn and soybeans look good. Farmers have been busy harvesting the third crop of alfalfa for a week. Fields of oats are ripe and golden brown. Early season apples can be picked. Watermelons, muskmelons, and other garden melons are ripe.
On July 26 a year ago
We had a low temperature of 68 and a high of 83 degrees under partly cloudy skies. The first Canada geese were flying again after their June molt. Much field corn was pollinating, and farmers had begun harvesting the third crop of alfalfa.