High heat setting records

A few degrees, and a little bit of humidity, makes a big difference.

It’s not a surprise that it’s hot. In August. In New Mexico. However, Clovis and Portales are experiencing a heat wave in which the average high for the first 15 day so August has been more than 3 degrees warmer than normal.

In Clovis, 13 of the first 15 days of August have featured a temperatures higher than that day’s historical average. The average high temperature has been 93.4 degrees.

Same story in Portales, with 12 of the 15 days above the average high of 90 degrees.

“We had a very persistent area of high pressure,” said Kerry Jones, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Albuquerque station. “It’s been centered over west Texas, eastern new Mexico.”

Jones said there was a cold front that hit early Monday morning, but its only effect was the morning storm. He doesn’t see much change, and said residents should expect temperatures to climb throughout the week and stay high in the evenings.

“One thing we’ve noticed,” Jones said, “is our nighttime temperatures have kept warmer than normal. That is in part due to the humidity.”

That’s led to more than a few busy happy hours at restaurants such as the Foxy Drive-In.

“It’s more the humidity, I think,” General Manager Freddie Bryant said. “It’s hot, but with all of that rain we’ve been getting, it’s been a damper. As far as drinks go, it’s been tremendous. We go through tea incredibly, but not so much water.”

Drinks aren’t the only thing in high demand. Wes Reeves, a spokesman for Xcel Energy, said Aug. 4 set a company record for demand in a day (5,581 megawatts, about 30 megawatts above a record from two Augusts ago).

The first two weeks of August 2010, Reeves said, are running at a 7.1 percent increase in power demand over the first two weeks of August 2009. The year-to-date demand is slightly up, said Reeves, who noted a July with rain and cooler temperatures helped level demand somewhat.

In Clovis, 28 of July’s 31 days had high temperatures lower than the historical average of 91 degrees. In Portales, 29 July days were below the historical high.

Reeves said power usage should drop with the start of school, as many homes will be unoccupied. Schools will run cooling systems as well, but Reeves said power usage still goes down because it’s less burdensome to cool a few schools than thousands of individual homes.