July 2012: hottest month in U.S. history

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 7:16 PM GMT on August 10, 2012

During the 1930s, a series of epic heat waves gripped the U.S., drying up the soil in an unprecedented drought that brought about the great Dust Bowl. The most intense heat hit during July 1936, which set a record for hottest month in U.S. history that stood for 76 years. That iconic record has now fallen, bested by 0.2°F during July 2012, which is now the hottest month in U.S. history, said NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) this week. So far in 2012, we've had the warmest March on record, 3rd warmest April, 2nd warmest May, and warmest July. These remarkably warm months have helped push temperatures in the contiguous U.S. to the warmest on record for the year-to-date period of January - July, and for the 12-month period August 2011 - July 2012. Twenty-four states were record warm for that 12-month period, and an additional twenty states were top-ten warm. The past fourteen months have featured America's 2nd warmest summer (in 2011), 4th warmest winter, and warmest spring. The summer of 2012 is on pace to be a top-five warmest summer on record, and could beat the summer of 1936 as the warmest summer in U.S. history.


Figure 1. When the temperature peaked at an all-time high of 108° in Minneapolis, Minnesota on July 14, 1936, the want-ad staff at the 'St. Paul Daily News' was provided with 400 pounds of ice and two electric fans to cool the air in the press room. Photo from the Minnesota Historical Society.


Figure 2. Year-to-date temperature, by month, for 2012 (red), compared to the other 117 years on record for the contiguous U.S., with the five ultimately warmest years (orange) and five ultimately coolest years (blue) noted. The 2012 data are still preliminary. The year-to-date period of January - July was the warmest on record by a huge margin--1.0°F. Image credit: NOAA/NCDC.


Figure 3. For the fourth consecutive month, a new U.S. record for hottest 12-month period was set in July 2012. Five of the top-ten warmest 12-month periods in the contiguous U.S. since 1895 have occurred since April 2011. Image credit: NOAA/NCDC.

Most extreme January - July period on record
NOAA's U.S. Climate Extremes Index (CEI), which tracks the percentage area of the contiguous U.S. experiencing top-10% and bottom-10% extremes in temperature, precipitation, and drought, was 46% during the year-to-date January - July period. This is the highest value since CEI record-keeping began in 1910, and more than twice the average value. Remarkably, 83% of the contiguous U.S. had maximum temperatures that were in the warmest 10% historically during the first seven months of 2012, and 74% of the U.S. of the U.S. had warm minimum temperatures in the top 10%. The percentage area of the U.S. experiencing top-10% drought conditions was 20%, which was the 16th greatest since 1910. Extremes in 1-day heavy precipitation events were the 24th greatest in the 103-year record.


Figure 4. NOAA's U.S. Climate Extremes Index (CEI) for January - July shows that 2012 has had the most extreme first seven months of the year on record, with 46% of the contiguous U.S. experiencing top-10% extreme weather.

Little change to the U.S. drought during the past week
The great U.S. drought of 2012 remained about the same size and intensity over the past week, said NOAA in their weekly U.S. Drought Monitor report issued Thursday, August 9. The area of the contiguous U.S. covered by drought dropped slightly, from 63% to 62%, and the area covered by severe or greater drought stayed constant at 46%. The area of the country in the worst drought categories (extreme to exceptional drought) doubled from 10 percent last month to 22 percent this month. The extreme dryness and excessive heat devastated crops and livestock from the Great Plains to Midwest. During July, the area of the U.S. covered by moderate or greater drought was 57%, ranking as the 5th largest drought in U.S. history:

1) Jul 1934, 80%
2) Dec 1939, 60%
3) Jul 1954, 60%
4) Dec 1956, 58%
5) Jul 2012, 57%



Video 1. This is Not Cool: Peter Sinclair's July 2012 video from the Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media couples historical footage with contemporary clips and news segments. In one of the latter, for instance, NBC anchor Brian Williams opens the network’s flagship news program with the words: “It’s now official. We are living in one of the worst droughts of the past 100 years.” NASA scientist James Hansen is featured testifying about risks of “extreme droughts” in the nation’s breadbasket, and I'm featured in a few clips talking about the drought of 2012.

I'll have a new post by noon Saturday.

Wunderground's weather historian Christopher C. Burt has a post looking back at the great Heat Wave of July 1936.

Jeff Masters


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

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If Gordon don`t come out of td 7 tomorrow it probably will never come out of it.
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Storm coming to Southern California?
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You can pull out your phone and access the information. LMAO, If this is taken as intelligence, I need say nothing more.
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HWRF 0-126hrs Total Precipitation


I don't think TD-07 will make it to the islands as a TD, it will be a T-wave by morning.
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1286. Msdrown
Quoting ProgressivePulse:


Wilma was running at 25mph as she intensified on her approach to FL.

While fast movement can limit intensification, it does not negate it. It's the underlying factors that get to a storm more readily as a fast mover. Dry air has been the bain just as with Ernesto. However, dry air is abating ATM, just as shear is arriving. (Bain 2)






Yea, but wasn't Wilma going through GOM IN hi 80's to low 90's which 7 isn't???
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting sar2401:


Whoa, 24 mph. Sorry, but TD7 is dead meat if it doesn't slow down soon.


Wilma was running at 25mph as she intensified on her approach to FL.

While fast movement can limit intensification, it does not negate it. It's the underlying factors that get to a storm more readily as a fast mover. Dry air has been the bain just as with Ernesto. However, dry air is abating ATM, just as shear is arriving. (Bain 2)



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1282. sar2401
Quoting Grothar:


See, I post a little video for you and everybody starts giving opinions like I was posting a big hurricane hitting Miami. lol JUST A LITTLE RAIN SHOWER FOLKS......THAT'S ALL I WAS SHOWING.

I'm going to bed. I will be up for the 2:PM advisory.


Good night, Gro. We'll be looking forward to your "Hurricane That Ate Miami" forecast in the morning. :)
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


I'm sorry, but that generalization as a kid pisses me off. Are you kidding? The classes I took in high school are so much harder than the classes adults now in days took.
The problem is the lazy arse kids in school that don't wanna do anything. Fine if you don't wanna work hard I won't complain, but then don;t come crawling to me for a welfare check because you decided not to work hard.
Dang your on a roll man
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1277. Grothar
Quoting Msdrown:


Thanks Grother, I'm computer challenged. But this one is more recent then Pats and it has moved ashore and is more concentrated. It doesn't seem to have any spin anymore. Puzzeling??


See, I post a little video for you and everybody starts giving opinions like I was posting a big hurricane hitting Miami. lol JUST A LITTLE RAIN SHOWER FOLKS......THAT'S ALL I WAS SHOWING.

I'm going to bed. I will be up for the 2:PM advisory.
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1276. sar2401
Quoting Msdrown:


Thanks, just quoting the mets on WDSU-10 at 11pm. They did say though that it was temporary and out in the afternoon.


LOL, I know. All the mets down ere get excited if it's going to be two degrees cooler tomorrow. This thing was advertised last week at this time (courtesy of the GFS, I might add) as bringing us highs in the low 80's and lows in the low 60's with 50's in north Alabama. With every run, the front became more moist and it displaced less hot air. Models always predict this kind of front in August. Maybe I'd believe it had a chance in September, but I don't start looking for my jacket until October...late October. :)
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1274. Msdrown
Quoting sar2401:


Looking at the closeup radar out of Key West, it appears to be just the normal tropical blob/wave seen off the coast of Florida this time of year. No rotation I can see and the highest tops are ony 23,000 feet.



Yes I noticed that one that Groth put up for me. Patrap put one up earlier from the same radar and the blob was still south of land, not so concentrated and it had a slight rotation. But looking at this one its totally different. Hel I don't know. I was just concerned because for the last two days a few people on here were talking about the blob south of Cuba which is still there and then I checked different satilites and it appeared this off of fla detached from the Cuba blob very quickly. No worries, we will see tommorrow. Thanks though
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1273. Grothar
Quoting sar2401:


Looking at the closeup radar out of Key West, it appears to be just the normal tropical blob/wave seen off the coast of Florida this time of year. No rotation I can see and the highest tops are ony 23,000 feet.


That's all it is. A typical rainy evening in Florida. A little thunder, a little rain
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Derived from (NHC) ATCF data for TropicalDepressionSeven for 11August12amGMT:
MinimumPressure remained 1009millibars
MaxSusWinds held at 30knots(35mph)56km/h
Vector changed from 272.8°West@25.8mph(41.5km/h) to 272.9°West@24.7mph(39.7km/h)

POS-Trinidad :: GND-Grenada :: BGI-Barbados :: SLU-St.Lucia

The easternmost dot on the connected lines is where 92L-AL07 became TD.7
The easternmost dot on the longest line is TD.7's most recent position

The longest line is a straightline projection through TD.7's 2 most recent positions to its closest approach (within 18miles or 29 kilometres) to a coastline
10August12amGMT: TD.7 had been headed for passage over Bathsheba (middleBGIblob)
10August6amGMT: TD.7 had been headed for passage over HighCliffPoint (topGNDdumbbell)
10August12pmGMT: 10August12pmGMT: TD.7 was heading for passage over LittleBay (topBGIblob)
10August6pmGMT: TD.7 had been headed for passage over LinnisPoint,Dennery(town) (bottomSLUdumbbell)
11August12amGMT: TD.7 was heading for passage over TortuePoint near the southern end of GrandAnseBeach in ~15hours from now (when this comment was posted)

Copy&paste pos-10.595n61.023w, bgi-13.09n59.457w, 13.198n59.488w-13.31n59.579w, gnd-12.191n61.602w, slu-13.89n60.883w, axa, 13.7n42.9w-13.7n44.6w, 13.7n44.6w-13.6n46.3w, 13.6n46.3w-13.6n48.6w, 13.6n48.6w-13.7n50.9w, 13.7n50.9w-13.8n53.1w, 13.7n50.9w-13.99n60.883w into the GreatCircleMapper for a larger-scale map and other information
The previous mapping for comparison
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Quoting huntsvle:


Well...that's what we said about ernesto too...annnnnnddddddd he didn't die out.

The forward motion now might be aiding him. He can get a little ahead of the ULL and seems to be pushing the majority of the dry air out of his way. I think if he can maintain his forward motion for about 24-36 more hours and then slow waaaayyyyy down...it might be good to go.


No way, the ULL is amplifying as we speak if it moves quickly itll just add to the shear problem nad just rip itself apart faster.
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Quoting sar2401:


Well...that's what we said about ernesto too...annnnnnddddddd he didn't die out.

The forward motion now might be aiding him. He can get a little ahead of the ULL and seems to be pushing the majority of the dry air out of his way. I think if he can maintain his forward motion for about 24-36 more hours and then slow waaaayyyyy down...it might be good to go.
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TD 7
2:00 AM AST Sat Aug 11
Location: 13.9°N 55.2°W
Moving: W at 24 mph
Min pressure: 1009 mb
Max sustained: 35 mph
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1265. sar2401
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:
000
WTNT32 KNHC 110545
TCPAT2

BULLETIN
TROPICAL DEPRESSION SEVEN INTERMEDIATE ADVISORY NUMBER 6A
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL072012
200 AM AST SAT AUG 11 2012

...TROPICAL DEPRESSION MOVING QUICKLY WESTWARD TOWARD THE WINDWARD
ISLANDS


Whoa, 24 mph. Sorry, but TD7 is dead meat if it doesn't slow down soon.
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
ok now I'm out good night or morning I'll be back latter for 5am advisory


I'll be here waiting to discuss it with you wunderkid
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ok now I'm out good night or morning I'll be back latter for 5am advisory
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1261. sar2401
Quoting Grothar:


here you go. This loop was posted by Msdrown by proxy




Looking at the closeup radar out of Key West, it appears to be just the normal tropical blob/wave seen off the coast of Florida this time of year. No rotation I can see and the highest tops are ony 23,000 feet.
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000
WTNT32 KNHC 110545
TCPAT2

BULLETIN
TROPICAL DEPRESSION SEVEN INTERMEDIATE ADVISORY NUMBER 6A
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL072012
200 AM AST SAT AUG 11 2012

...TROPICAL DEPRESSION MOVING QUICKLY WESTWARD TOWARD THE WINDWARD
ISLANDS...


SUMMARY OF 200 AM AST...0600 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...13.9N 55.2W
ABOUT 295 MI...475 KM E OF BARBADOS
ABOUT 390 MI...630 KM E OF MARTINIQUE
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...35 MPH...55 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...W OR 275 DEGREES AT 24 MPH...39 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...1009 MB...29.80 INCHES


WATCHES AND WARNINGS
--------------------
CHANGES WITH THIS ADVISORY...

NONE.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT...

A TROPICAL STORM WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* GUADELOUPE AND MARTINIQUE
* DOMINICA
* ST. LUCIA
* BARBADOS
* ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES

A TROPICAL STORM WATCH MEANS THAT TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE
POSSIBLE WITHIN THE WATCH AREA...IN THIS CASE IN 24 TO 36 HOURS.

FOR STORM INFORMATION SPECIFIC TO YOUR AREA...PLEASE MONITOR
PRODUCTS ISSUED BY YOUR NATIONAL METEOROLOGICAL SERVICE.


DISCUSSION AND 48-HOUR OUTLOOK
------------------------------
AT 200 AM AST...0600 UTC...THE CENTER OF TROPICAL DEPRESSION SEVEN
WAS LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 13.9 NORTH...LONGITUDE 55.2 WEST. THE
DEPRESSION IS MOVING TOWARD THE WEST NEAR 24 MPH...39 KM/H...AND
THIS GENERAL MOTION IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE THROUGH SUNDAY. ON THE
FORECAST TRACK THE DEPRESSION IS EXPECTED TO APPROACH THE WINDWARD
ISLANDS LATER TODAY.

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 35 MPH...55 KM/H...WITH HIGHER
GUSTS. SOME STRENGTHENING IS POSSIBLE OVER THE NEXT DAY OR SO...AND
THE DEPRESSION COULD BECOME A TROPICAL STORM BEFORE REACHING THE
WINDWARD ISLANDS.

THE ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE IS 1009 MB...29.80 INCHES.


HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
----------------------
WIND...TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE POSSIBLE WITHIN THE WATCH AREA
LATER TODAY AND TONIGHT.

RAINFALL...TOTAL RAINFALL ACCUMULATIONS OF 1 TO 2 INCHES WITH
ISOLATED MAXIMUM AMOUNTS OF 3 INCHES ARE EXPECTED ACROSS PORTIONS
OF THE LESSER ANTILLES THROUGH SATURDAY.


NEXT ADVISORY
-------------
NEXT COMPLETE ADVISORY...500 AM AST.

$$
FORECASTER BEVEN
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
200 AM EDT SAT AUG 11 2012

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER IS ISSUING ADVISORIES ON TROPICAL
DEPRESSION SEVEN...LOCATED ABOUT 295 MILES EAST OF BARBADOS.

SHOWER AND THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY REMAINS LIMITED NEAR A BROAD LOW
PRESSURE AREA LOCATED OVER THE FAR EASTERN ATLANTIC JUST TO THE
NORTHWEST OF THE CAPE VERDE ISLANDS. ANY DEVELOPMENT OF THIS SYSTEM
IS EXPECTED TO BE SLOW TO OCCUR UNTIL THE LOW REACHES WARMER WATERS
IN A COUPLE OF DAYS. THIS SYSTEM HAS A LOW CHANCE...20 PERCENT...OF
BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS AS IT MOVES
WEST-NORTHWESTWARD AT ABOUT 20 MPH.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER CANGIALOSI
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ZCZC MIATWOAT ALL
TTAA00 KNHC DDHHMM

TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
200 AM EDT SAT AUG 11 2012

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER IS ISSUING ADVISORIES ON TROPICAL
DEPRESSION SEVEN...LOCATED ABOUT 295 MILES EAST OF BARBADOS.

1. SHOWER AND THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY REMAINS LIMITED NEAR A BROAD LOW
PRESSURE AREA LOCATED OVER THE FAR EASTERN ATLANTIC JUST TO THE
NORTHWEST OF THE CAPE VERDE ISLANDS. ANY DEVELOPMENT OF THIS SYSTEM
IS EXPECTED TO BE SLOW TO OCCUR UNTIL THE LOW REACHES WARMER WATERS
IN A COUPLE OF DAYS. THIS SYSTEM HAS A LOW CHANCE...20 PERCENT...OF
BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS AS IT MOVES
WEST-NORTHWESTWARD AT ABOUT 20 MPH.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER CANGIALOSI
NNNN
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Heavy T-Storm in Grand Cayman.

Webcam
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Quoting tropicfreak:


I don't know, think we need RECON or wind maps like WINDSAT to confirm that.

Could this be TD-07??

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good evening everybody i see 93L went down to 20% since i been at work all day. it was at 50 this morning when i left. and td 7 still same
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Quoting tropicfreak:


I don't know, think we need RECON or wind maps like WINDSAT to confirm that.


Go over to the NHC website and look at their satelite data.

Use this Link to get there and then click the HDW-H button so you can see the windfields. That'll help you get some kinda idea.
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Quoting Grothar:


Don't go getting poetic on me. I'm very sentimental.


To Be,Or not to be,That is the question.
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Quoting Grothar:
Anybody here remember the Hurricane of 1926 in Miami?

Not me, but I know you do. LOL
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Quoting sar2401:


Aussie, even though WKC will no doubt vehemently disagree, it looks like a tropical wave to me as well. Maybe it was too many years of sailing in the Caribbean but, if I saw this on my radar, I'd avoid it, but not be too concerned about making a run for it either.


I don't know, think we need RECON or wind maps like WINDSAT to confirm that.
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Quoting sar2401:


Aussie, even though WKC will no doubt vehemently disagree, it looks like a tropical wave to me as well. Maybe it was too many years of sailing in the Caribbean but, if I saw this on my radar, I'd avoid it, but not be too concerned about making a run for it either.
Yeah not concerned at all im more interested in those tropical waves in africa they look very robust and coming off africa at a lower latitude
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Quoting Msdrown:


Thanks Grother, I'm computer challenged. But this one is more recent then Pats and it has moved ashore and is more concentrated. It doesn't seem to have any spin anymore. Puzzeling??


It just looks like a synoptic feature to my via radar.
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1246. Msdrown
Quoting sar2401:


The term "cold front" may be a little misleading. It's a stationary front in Texas and a "Not as Hot Front" in AL. The NAH front has already passed through central Al and we are still getting training thunderstorms, especially far to the north of the NAH front. The temperature, even though we've been worked over by thunderstorms all day, is still an unpleasantly humid 79. The forecast for tomorrow is a high of 88, compared to 91 today, and a low of 68, compared to 73 yesterday. If it get down to 68, I'll eat my shoe. It looks like we will have about 18 hours of very slightly drier air and then the southwest flow kicks right back in Sunday. I don't think this NAF front will have any effect on TD7 at all.


Thanks, just quoting the mets on WDSU-10 at 11pm. They did say though that it was temporary and out in the afternoon.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
1245. sar2401
Quoting AussieStorm:
TD-07 looks like an open wave and not a TD.



Aussie, even though WKC will no doubt vehemently disagree, it looks like a tropical wave to me as well. Maybe it was too many years of sailing in the Caribbean but, if I saw this on my radar, I'd avoid it, but not be too concerned about making a run for it either.
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Cat 6 lead authors: WU cofounder Dr. Jeff Masters (right), who flew w/NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990, & WU meteorologist Bob Henson, @bhensonweather