Hottest Summer Smackdown: 2011 vs. 1980

You hear it almost anytime anyone mentions the heat: "Remember the Summer of 1980?"

It seems nearly everyone who was alive at the time has a story about how they endured the granddaddy of Texas heat waves -- and many of those stories include tall tales of cooking the morning's breakfast on the front walk.

That didn't happen, but it was plenty hot.  But just how bad was it really and how close are we to finally eclipsing that legendary summer?

The summer of 1980 broke or tied 29 daily records, many of which still stand to this day.

In 1980, North Texas had 69 days above 100 degrees, 42 of which were consecutive. This year we have had 46 days hotter than 100, 40 consecutive as of Wednesday. If the forecasts hold true, we stand a real good shot at breaking the consecutive days streak, though we probably won't touch the total-days-over-100 tally.

In the most-days-of-a-month-over-100 category, this summer we reached the triple-digits on 30 of July's 31 days. That was good enough for second place. First place? You guessed it -- the summer of '80 set an unbreakable record when all 31 days were hotter than 99 degrees.

But one of the things that made that summer so brutal was that there were also 28 days over 105 degrees. So far this summer, we've only had 10 days hotter than 105 degrees.

In 2011, we've only had one day at 110 or higher and that was week, when we hit that exact mark. In 1980, we had five days at or above that number. Brutal heat.

Rainfall for the summer of 1980 was only 1.96 inches, low enough to make it the eighth-driest summer on record. This summer, we've already had 2.93 inches of rain recorded, which is too much to crack the top 10. In fact, we haven't had a new entry into the Driest Summers Top 10 this century while we've added two of the wettest with 16.99 inches in 2007 (No. 5) and 18.89 inches in 2004 (No. 1).

Not being a meteorologist, I went to Chief Meteorologist David Finfrock, who averaged the data from June 1 through Aug. 4 and found the following: The summer of 2011 has had the warmest-ever average low temperature during the time period -- 78.9 degrees vs. 76.7 degrees in 1980. For the average high temperature, 1980 is still in first with 102.4 degrees vs. 100.2 this year.  Interestingly, the overall mean temperature for the summer (averaging both highs and lows each day) shows that both 1980 and 2011 have an average temperature of 89.6 degrees.

After taking all of that into consideration, it looks kind of like a horse race as to which summer was the most extreme. With three more weeks left in August, do you think we can eclipse the granddaddy of them all? 

Here is a run down of the Top 10 stretches of 100-plus heat.

1. 42 days -- June 23 - Aug. 3, 1980
2. 40 days -- July 2-Aug. 10, 2011*
3. 29 days -- July 6 - Aug. 3, 1998
4. 25 days -- Aug. 2-26, 1952
5. 24 days -- July 28 - Aug. 20, 1999
6. 20 days -- July 9-28, 1954
7. 19 days -- Aug. 8-26, 2006
8. 18 days -- July 31 - Aug. 17, 2010
8. 18 days -- July 2-19, 1978
10. 17 days -- Aug. 2-18, 1956

*active streak

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