- Associated Press - Monday, August 1, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The searing summer heat in northern Utah that has wilted plants, made lawns go yellow and led people to blast their air conditioning set a record for the warmest June-July on record, the National Weather Service said Monday.

The average temperature of 80.3 in June and July in Salt Lake City eclipses the record of 79.8 set in 2013, meteorologist Eric Schoening said. Records date back to 1874.

A high pressure system across the region and bone dry conditions in northern Utah fueled the blazing heat, he said.

“With fewer clouds, the sun was quite intense most afternoons,” Schoening said.

July was capped off by seven consecutive days of 100-degree temperatures, three days short of the record. Temperatures hit 100 degrees again Monday on the first day of August to extend the streak to eight days. But the streak is likely to end Tuesday as weather cools off, Schoening said.

Breaking heat records has become a common event in the last decade.

The three warmest June-Julys on record, and seven of the nine warmest, have been registered in the last decade, National Weather Service data shows. Schoening says it’s indicative of a worldwide shift.

“As we know the globe as a whole is warming,” Schoening said. “We’ve seen that in Salt Lake City, especially in the summers.”

The hottest day this summer came on July 26, when the high reached 104 degrees. On that day, Rocky Mountain Power recorded the highest electric use in five years for the Wasatch Front area, said spokesman Paul Murphy.

That afternoon was one of three times this summer that Rocky Mountain Power customers who volunteered for an energy efficient program had their air conditioning shut off during high demand periods, Murphy said. The program has been implemented two other times this summer: June 20 and June 22, he said.

The electricity grid is most strained when temperatures remain hot overnight, Murphy said. That’s something happening more frequently this summer, Schoening said.

For five straight days from July 18-22, overnight temperatures never dropped below 77 degrees - shattering the previous record of two straight days, he said. The overnight low of 81 degrees on July 18 was the warmest ever recorded for that date.

The hot weather also contributed to creating a huge toxic algae bloom that closed Utah Lake, sickened more than 100 people and left farmers scrambling for clean water for days during the hottest part of the year. The heat combined with longstanding drought conditions made the water especially low and stagnant.

There is good news for northern Utah residents sick of the sweltering heat: Highs for the rest of the week are expected to hover in the low to mid-90s.

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