Hot is hot.

Whether it’s “a dry heat,” as is often the case with weather in the United States’ desert southwest, or the more muggy variety that often sweeps over any state north of the Gulf of Mexico, high temperatures mean high heat. If it’s hot, you know it.

As a bunch of local golfers – including me – can attest to, it was hot last Saturday. Thanks to some mid-summer heat and humidity that descended on the Ozarks in early June, playing in the annual Diamond Club tournament at Oakwood Golf Club near Houston became more of a test of survival than of golf prowess.

Thankfully, nobody collapsed of heat exhaustion and no one sustained third-degree burns on the back of their neck. And the event accomplished its goal of raising funds for the Houston High School baseball team to attend a summer camp in Mississippi and the NCAA’s College World Series in Nebraska.

But man, the heat was on.

The event actually featured two separate 18-hole mini-tournaments, one in the morning and one that teed off at 1:30 p.m.

Oakwood owner and HHS baseball assistant coach Bud Evans played in both. Toward the end of his second 18 of the day, he wasn’t just sweating bullets. More like artillery shells.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

At times, between gusts of the little breeze that prevented a full-on sauna effect, the heat felt like it had a mass, like you could touch it.

I didn’t play in the sub-Arctic conditions of the morning session, my first swing took place after the sun was already threatening to turn Cabool cattle into steaks, bake the eggs of Houston hens and singe the wings of Roby roosters.

At one point, I think my Bridgestone ball must have been in the beginning stages of a meltdown because it almost felt like it stuck to my putter on a 20-footer.

And I think I even heard some of the local 13-year cicadas discussing going back underground and waiting until year 14.

Of course, June was also a hot one last year around here. After a fairly temperate first half of the month, the heat machine really got cranking during the second half and we endured a couple straight weeks of 90-plus temperatures.

But taking a look back in Ozark weather history, major hotness is not all that uncommon in June. During an apparent outbreak of global warming in 1952 and 1953, record highs for many June dates in southern Missouri were established that still stand to this day.

1952 featured numerous days with triple-figure temperatures in late June, including a 105-degree reading (yikes) on the 29th. June of ’53 followed up with another half-dozen or so days over the century mark and featured an amazing run from the 7th to the 20th that included five days in the 100s and 11 record highs that have yet to be topped.

When the old man at the end of the dirt road says, “Heat – you don’t know heat; why when I was young it was hot,” he’s not necessarily exaggerating.

June of 1953 was a strange time for late spring weather in more ways than one. That was the same year that a weird storm system spawned dozens of tornados over a three-day stretch in early June, including an F5 near Flint, Mich., on the 8th that killed 116 people (and was this country’s worst-ever in terms of fatalities until Joplin’s EF5 this year), and the famous Worcester County F4 that killed 94 people a day later in – of all places – Massachusetts.

Anyway, when I got back from burning up the golf course (make that burning up ON the golf course), I told my wife and oldest daughter that I had decided the day’s activity was tied for the hottest thing I have ever done in my life. While that may be a slight stretch, it’s definitely in the top five.

For the record, No. 1 on the chart took place in the early 1980s on boat race day in Seattle.

Every year on a Sunday in early August, 200,000-plus people gather around the two-mile oval course on Lake Washington to watch unlimited hydroplanes race. The event caps off the week-long Seafair and is commonly known as Seafair Sunday.

Weather in the northwest can be cool or hot that time of year, and that time around it was hot. Really hot.

In fact, the high for that Seafair Sunday was 99 degrees, an all-time record for Seattle for any date (a number that has since been eclipsed by a couple of 100-plus days in 2009). All I can remember was how dang hot it felt.

Even the lake seemed to be effected.

The 200-foot deep, 20-mile long natural body of water pretty much always has some chop on it – even whitecaps on a regular basis. But that day the water was flat as could be, as if the lake was feeling lethargic from the heat.

Hopefully, this area will experience a cool-down that hangs around for a while before the inevitable heat onslaught of July and August. Maybe we’ll even get a more northerly flow that allows drier air to set in and the nights to cool down.

But last summer, the heat didn’t let up until September, and maybe the heat is on for good again in 2011.

I think a trip to a spring branch is in order. Some 50-degree water that’s been above ground for only a few hundred yards would feel mighty good right about now.

Doug Davison is a writer, copy editor, photographer and advertising representative for the Houston Herald. Email: ddavison@houstonherald.com.

Advertisements