Catherine W. Idzerda" />

Summer cooled its heels this year

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Catherine W. Idzerda
Monday, September 21, 2009
— Fall begins tomorrow leaving—no pun intended—most of us wondering what happened to summer.

Did our summer take place someplace else? Say, Walla Walla, Wash. or Elmo, Mo.?

Who knows.

What we do know is the summer of 2009 was the second coolest summer since 1949, the year the Gazette started keeping weather records.

From June 22 to Sept. 21, Janesville has an average of 37 days when the temperature is 85 degrees or higher, according to the Gazette's records.

In 2009, we had 12 days.

The 2009 numbers are second only to 1992, when we had only 10 days.

On the other end of the thermometer, in 1955 the city suffered through 65 days when temperatures were 85 degrees or higher.

The cool summer provided us with plenty of good-news/bad-news situations:

Good news: Air conditioners stayed off. People saved money on their electricity bills and used less energy.

"We definitely saw a decrease in energy use, especially in July, said Rob Crain, Alliant Energy spokesperson.

Exact energy use numbers won't be available until November, when Alliant does its quarterly reporting.

More good news: Cooler weather means good sleeping weather, especially for people without air conditioning.
Bad news: Cooler weather always means domestic disputes about who stole the blankets at 3 a.m. We're not naming any names here, but you know who you are and we wish you'd cut it out.
Good news: Rotary Botanical Gardens is still lush with color.

"Some of the plants tend to sort of wash out in the heat," said Mark Dwyer, Rotary Gardens horticultural manager. "This year we still have a lot of vivid colors out there. Cool season annuals also did well this year."

The gardens also had to spend "significantly less" time watering during July and August. That's good for staff and for the gardens' water bill.

Bad news: Tropical plants such as ornamental bananas, elephant ears and castor beans did "OK" but not as well as they usually do.

"What they really crave is a typical Wisconsin summer," Dwyer said.

Here's another odd impact: The hot peppers grown for the garden fest were not as hot as they usually were.

Good news: It was a great summer for lettuce, spinach and peas—crops that wilt in the sweltering weather of late June and early July. Also, it was an excellent summer for green tomato pickles.
Bad news: Many gardeners are bitter about their tomatoes. Cool weather meant they—the tomatoes, not the gardeners—didn't ripen very well. Or they ripened with painful slowness, making it difficult to do any serious canning.
Good news: Periods of extended hot weather increase police calls.

"When officers come in on a hot and humid night, they anticipate having a busy evening," said Janesville Police Chief David Moore. "The heat can affect people's attitudes."

Heat-related surliness sends people to the fridge for a beer.

"The heat tends to facilitate the use of alcohol," Moore said. "Alcohol always seems to be involved in our calls or in the background of our calls."

Bad news: It's hard to think of bad news. Um, beer sales go down? The emergency room sees fewer patients?
Miscellaneous good news: The weather was good for landscapers, construction crews, counselors at summer camps and the folks who work at the landfill.

Cows and other farm animals prefer things on the cool side.

So do dogs and cats.

Kids won't be constantly running through the sprinkler, turning your yard into a mud pit and driving up your water and sewer bill.

Miscellaneous bad news: Lower attendance at city pools.

Pool salespeople probably weren't happy, either.

Last updated: 11:20 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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