Two very warm nights
On two mornings this month, the 21st and 23rd, the minimum temperature in my thermometer screen was higher than it has ever been in July. That is, in the 17-year record that I began in March 1999.
These minimum readings were 14.3° and 14.4°. The highest July minimum had been 13.5° (31/07/2010), and only five readings had ever been above 12°. Such readings are more than ten degrees higher than normal in July.
In fact, one of the nights was much warmer than the minimum temperature indicates.
Minima not always at night
High minimum temperature readings are the usual evidence of warm nights. Unfortunately, they are not the same thing. Especially in the case of very high readings, they can be misleading.
The catch is that we expect daily maximum temperature to occur in daytime, when the sun is in the sky, and daily minimum temperature to occur at night, when it is not. In Manilla’s very sunny climate, the maximum is usually about fifteen degrees higher than the minimum. We can expect the maximum about 3 pm, and the minimum about 6 am.
When a thermometer is read at 9 am (as they are), the maximum reading recorded on it is usually that of the afternoon, and the minimum reading that of just before sunrise. Usually, but not always!
Times when nights are very warm are usually cloudy. The clouds form a blanket that keeps us warm. Because they also block the sun in daytime, the daily maximum temperature may be almost the same as the daily minimum. The times when maxima and minima occur may become vague. As a complication, warm nights tend to happen when warm air comes to us on the wind. Then much colder air often follows. If the cold air arrives before 9 am, it will lower the minimum temperature reading, destroying the evidence of a warm night.
I do not have a thermograph that makes a continuous temperature trace. The trace for Tamworth Airport can be seen here. (Choose a date.)
For this month’s warmest night, the Tamworth thermograph trace shows that the daily minimum temperature value is misleading due to these factors. The night was much warmer.
Between 5:30 pm on the 22nd and 5:30 am on the 23rd, the lowest temperature, which came at 7:40 pm, was 17.8°. Most of the night, from midnight to 4:00 am, was above 20°! Yet the (Tamworth) minimum for the 24 hour period was 12.5°.
Earlier in the month, in the 24 hours to 9 am on the 6th, the conventional maximum and minimum values were highly misleading. The daily maximum was the very last reading (10.0°) and the daily minimum the very first, 24 hours earlier (6.5°). The afternoon maximum temperature was 8.0° and the pre-dawn minimum temperature was 8.2°. On that date, the day was 0.2° cooler than the night!