By STEVE EIGHINGER
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
OK, that's probably a bit of an exaggeration, but make no mistake, July was much cooler than usual.
How cool, you ask?
Would you believe Quincy tied the record for coolest -- "coldest" seems rather harsh -- July on record with an average daily temperature of 71.3 degrees? That matched the average daily July temperature of 2009.
This year's record-equaling low temperatures come just two years following 2012's average of 83.7 degrees, which was the warmest July since records began being kept at Quincy Regional Airport in 1948. The record hot average in 2012 came during a drought.
Jim Angel, a longtime Illinois climatologist based in Champaign, told The Herald-Whig the cooler-than-usual July is nothing to worry about. It's not a result of some new El Nino, it's not tied to global-warming theories and it's not the precursor to some apocalyptic-type event.
"There's always a lot of variables in the weather," he said. "The temperatures can jump around a lot. There were decades like the 1930s that were hot, and decades like the 1960s and 1970s when things were cool(er).
"There are no real discernible trends."
National Weather Service records indicate the average high in Quincy for the month of July is 86, and the average low 66 -- for an average daily temperature of about 76. This July was about five degrees cooler on the average. Nine days in July actually had temperatures in the 50s, with most of those readings coming late at night or early in the morning.
For outdoor workers like Chad Szarka of the Quincy Park District, the cooler July figures were a welcome relief from most midsummers.
Szarka has spent the past 15 years at the Park District performing an assortment of outdoor duties, including trimming and clearing bushes and mowing greenspace. Most Julys have seen him trying to make sure he had the proper intake of fluids to stay hydrated beneath the scorching summer sun.
"This summer has been a lot better when it comes to the temperature," Szarka said. "If it hadn't flooded, it would have been a great summer."
Park District maintenance crews are usually taxed to the limit during the post-flood cleanups along the riverfront, but Szarka said this year that work was done in cooler temperatures. Quincy's cooler weather in July mirrored that of across the state.
Angel said it will be the second-coolest July on record in Illinois. Statewide, the average temperature was 70.6 degrees, topped only by the 70.3-degree average of 2009. Number 3 on the list was 71.1 in 1924. State records date to the 1880s.
Even though the high-temperature, high-humidity days that normally accompany July were few and far between, Hy-Vee on Harrison store director Steve Labs said the sale of bagged ice remained relatively steady.
"We might have seen a little fall-off, but not much," Labs said. "The thing that hurts ice sales is usually the floods. When boaters can't get out on the river, or big outdoor events in the area (have to be postponed) that's when see a drop-off in ice sales. People buy a lot of (the bagged ice) to put in their coolers.
"When it comes to ice sales, flooding is more important than cooler temperatures."
Labs is confident that any slight loss in July will soon be compensate.
"We've still got August coming up," he said.
August is traditionally the second-hottest month of the year.