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The Summer of 2016: No. 1 for heat

When the 2016 summer's epitaph is written after autumn officially begins at 10:21 a.m. Thursday, the season will be remembered most for its sustained heat and drought.

Overall, the period will finish as the warmest astronomical summer on record in Buffalo, according to National Weather Service data going back to 1870.

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Astronomical seasons are based on the Earth's position relative to the sun, where meteorological seasons are broken down in three-month increments "based on the annual temperature cycle," federal climate scientists explain.

monthbymonth16The average temperature -- 73.1 degrees through the end of Tuesday -- shouldn't deviate much by Thursday morning.

Bolstered by the hottest August on record in Buffalo and a warm September that could include a few 80-degree days to end the season, the Summer of 2016 will finish ahead of 2005's average temperature of 72.6 degrees.

It should be noted that the warmest meteorological summer -- which is calculated from the start of June until the end of August -- is still held by seven-tenths of a degree by 2005. That year had a much warmer June, but a cooler September.

So, it's kind of like winning the pennant in the American League versus the National League.

The Summer of 2016 recorded the most days above 80 degrees in Buffalo's recorded weather history -- 66 as of Tuesday -- and will also join 2005 as the only year when daily high temperatures were at least 70 degrees for each and every day of the summer.

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This year's sustained heat -- through days and nights -- exacerbated the drought, which stared to dig its heels in during the month of June.

The drought itself was really more rooted in the spring months.

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