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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ok 700mb stronger than before


and 500mb much better than before where it showed absoultly nothing now show something

500mb

I am expecting vort to increase in all 925-500mb throught the morning
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Goodnight All!!!
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1193. hydrus
Signing off. A blessed night to all..:)
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1192. hydrus
Quoting Grothar:


Was that Belle?
Yes.
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Quoting huntsvle:


hmmmmm can we get a 700 or a 500?

ok give me 2 mins

Quoting CaribBoy:


So tell me where I am lol?

no really where are you

Quoting redwagon:

Things are changing so fast right now, just like with Ernesto. Now the ULL seems attracted to the llstuff to its southwest, which would be a much quicker fit to start siphoning up that simmering water from the tip of Cuba down past Jamaica.

It's like Dawn of the Dead where Anna's husband who's trying to get her in her car does a 280o to run down that neighbor instead :)

ok ??
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
1190. hydrus
I have to post Hurricane Agnes. We were not hit, but it dumped enough rain on us to swim in..:)Remnants of Tropical Storm Agnes over the northeastern United States
Date June 1972
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1189. Grothar
Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:
For your late night viewing pleasure, check out these simulated views of Earth from Mars

http://astrobob.areavoices.com/2012/08/10/what-do es-earth-look-like-from-mars/




Mars%u2019 moon Phobos joins Earth and Venus shortly before sunrise on the morning of August 12.


I didn't know you were away. They really are amazing shots.
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Quoting WxGeekVA:


Wonder if the TUTT will be able to help it with outflow briefly before beginning to shear it?


well right now it is is 15-20kts od shear soon going to 25kts however that is as much as I think it will get TD 7 moves into the central caribbean atltic UUL will be E of the lesser antilles at that time and NW Caribbean ULL will be in NEtern GOM or Florida and both of the will cause an upper anticyclone to develop further causing lower shear so yep help with outflow not right now though and sher its getting it now but won't be for long
Quoting Grothar:


Sometimes they do. Other times, they can destroy a system.

I think this time it will help it
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting wunderkidcayman:

only expecting about 25kts of shear on it for a short while



ok
850mb


925mb

both are getting stronger



yeah I know trust me I know by the way where are you located


starting to look really good


lol seen that alot C-130s mid air refueling most times we miss the hole lol
however TD 7 will make it before the ULL either way its will still help with TD 7's outflow


Things are changing so fast right now, just like with Ernesto. Now the ULL seems attracted to the llstuff to its southwest, which would be a much quicker fit to start siphoning up that simmering water from the tip of Cuba down past Jamaica.

It's like Dawn of the Dead where Anna's husband who's trying to get her in her car does a 280o to run down that neighbor instead :)
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1186. Grothar
Quoting hydrus:
I bet..This was my first hurricane. I was visiting my Grandparents in Barnegat New Jersey where it tracked right up the coast. I stayed up thru the wee hours to watch it, when the Sun came up, there was significant damage to the marina pavilion, many trees down. Jersey took a pretty good hit.


Was that Belle?
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:

only expecting about 25kts of shear on it for a short while



ok
850mb


925mb

both are getting stronger



yeah I know trust me I know by the way where are you located


starting to look really good


lol seen that alot C-130s mid air refueling most times we miss the hole lol
however TD 7 will make it before the ULL either way its will still help with TD 7's outflow



So tell me where I am lol?
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Quoting Msdrown:
NOLA local news just reported the cold front is going to extend all the way down to the Gulf Coast and a little farther south into the GOM. Anticipating heavy thundershower local LA, MS,AL through the AM. Same thing we have been experiencing from SE TX to Main the last few days.


Hmmm...what might the tail of this make?
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:

only expecting about 25kts of shear on it for a short while



ok
850mb


925mb

both are getting stronger



yeah I know trust me I know by the way where are you located


starting to look really good


lol seen that alot C-130s mid air refueling most times we miss the hole lol
however TD 7 will make it before the ULL either way its will still help with TD 7's outflow



hmmmmm can we get a 700 or a 500?
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For your late night viewing pleasure, check out these simulated views of Earth from Mars

http://astrobob.areavoices.com/2012/08/10/what-do es-earth-look-like-from-mars/




Mars' moon Phobos joins Earth and Venus shortly before sunrise on the morning of August 12.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
1181. hydrus
Quoting KoritheMan:


In an otherwise lackluster season...

Like a lot of people say, it only takes one large and intense storm to change the landscape and our lives......as was my families and so many others. So many things I would like to forget but cant.
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Quoting Grothar:
The ULL may be affecting it a little



only expecting about 25kts of shear on it for a short while

Quoting huntsvle:


can someone post a current vort map for
925mb and 850mb?


ok
850mb


925mb

both are getting stronger

Quoting CaribBoy:


I just want a bit of rain dude. Yes now I know i won't get anything from TD7. Too small TD.


yeah I know trust me I know by the way where are you located

Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:

starting to look really good

Quoting redwagon:

Cramping 7's style, so to speak. On the other hand, if the ULL beats 7 to the ECAR, it could provide a mega upper stack if it can connect with him. But that's a tricky move, much like refueling an AC130 in flight.

lol seen that alot C-130s mid air refueling most times we miss the hole lol
however TD 7 will make it before the ULL either way its will still help with TD 7's outflow

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1179. hydrus
Quoting Grothar:


Wow, hydrus. Brings back memories. Great shots.
I bet..This was my first hurricane. I was visiting my Grandparents in Barnegat New Jersey where it tracked right up the coast. I stayed up thru the wee hours to watch it, when the Sun came up, there was significant damage to the marina pavilion, many trees down. Jersey took a pretty good hit. Hurricane Belle 1976,
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1178. Grothar
Quoting redwagon:

As above, so below. The world is filled with more magical beauty than we can imagine.


Don't go getting poetic on me. I'm very sentimental.
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NWS in Miami can be a little weird, they are going against the other offices like Melbourne and Ruskin by talking about many days of dry weather arriving next week but the other 2 offices say moisture will remain fairly deep through the extended. My bet is on the other 2 offices, it seems the NWS in Miami doesn't like showing much rain chances between a few days ahead of time. Even though Miami has had over 60 inches of rain to date for the year I think, lol.


You would not know that.

BTW, the extended pattern over the next 2 weeks generally favors AOA normal chances of rain for much of Florida and the CPC also agrees.
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1176. Grothar
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1175. Grothar
Quoting WxGeekVA:


Wonder if the TUTT will be able to help it with outflow briefly before beginning to shear it?


Sometimes they do. Other times, they can destroy a system.
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Quoting Grothar:


Been there, done that.

As above, so below. The world is filled with more magical beauty than we can imagine.
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1173. Grothar
Quoting Tribucanes:
hydrus just an absolutely amazing satellite shot of Eloise. Grothar still here, it's not past his bedtime is it?


I've told you before, they let us stay up late on Fridays.
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1172. hydrus
Quoting Tribucanes:
hydrus just an absolutely amazing satellite shot of Eloise. Grothar still here, it's not past his bedtime is it?
Geritol, tea and a slice and he will be ready to hunt blobs...Its what we do at WU..:)
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Quoting Grothar:
The ULL may be affecting it a little




Wonder if the TUTT will be able to help it with outflow briefly before beginning to shear it?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1170. Grothar
Quoting hydrus:
1974,s Carmen and Fifi were devastating storms..Carmen..Radar image of Hurricane Fifi off the coast of Honduras nearing landfall in Belize: Category 2 Hurricane Fifi off the coast of Honduras on September 18, 1974


Wow, hydrus. Brings back memories. Great shots.
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Quoting hydrus:
1974,s Carmen and Fifi were devastating storms..Carmen..Radar image of Hurricane Fifi off the coast of Honduras nearing landfall in Belize: Category 2 Hurricane Fifi off the coast of Honduras on September 18, 1974


The wondrous thing about Carmen? It managed to avoid all major population centers.
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1168. hydrus
Quoting Tribucanes:
hydrus just an absolutely amazing satellite shot of Eloise. Grothar still here, it's not past his bedtime is it?
There was tremendous amounts of rain and moisture with Eloise. It killed many people in Puerto Rico with rainfall amounts well over 30 inches.
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1167. Grothar
Quoting redwagon:

Cramping 7's style, so to speak. On the other hand, if the ULL beats 7 to the ECAR, it could provide a mega upper stack if it can connect with him. But that's a tricky move, much like refueling an AC130 in flight.


Been there, done that.
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Quoting Grothar:
The ULL may be affecting it a little


I assume you mean the one northeast of PR...

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Kori looking at the one storm in 75' that started in NE Florida and hugged the coast until halfway up the NC coast was pretty cool to see that path. Never seen a path quite like that.
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1164. hydrus
1974,s Carmen and Fifi were devastating storms..Carmen..Radar image of Hurricane Fifi off the coast of Honduras nearing landfall in Belize: Category 2 Hurricane Fifi off the coast of Honduras on September 18, 1974
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Quoting CaribBoy:


The two last frames.. Well, my eyes are probably tired lol

yes eye are tired now go sleep

Quoting RussianWinter:


This kid is right, look at it.



It's going west, +/- 5 degrees.

thank you

Quoting CaribBoy:


Thanks for the advise lol


you are welcome

Quoting redwagon:

Also, TD7 seems to be positively responding to DMAX, where Ernesto didn't even learn what it was until he was in the WCARB. Ernesto liked DMIN, and withered with the sunset for most of his life.


yep I starting to have a gut feeling that the SHIPS my be right for TD 7

Quoting JLPR2:
There we go...



yep I knew it

Quoting KoritheMan:


Still looks awfully westward to me, but motion, particularly with disorganized systems like this one, is often extremely difficult to gauge at night.

yes its W and he understands it now

Quoting JLPR2:


Earlier Kman though there was no 925mb vort because the map malfunctioned, so that would mean no low level circulation, but now that the map upfdated it is clear that TD 7 is still spinning.

925mb is closer to the surface than 850mb.

yep and if I can recall it stronger than the last one before the malfunctioned image

Quoting BahaHurican:
Four. I'm waiting to see it open out before I believe it.


gerat so that would be 6 or 7 of us now
and I don't think it will open up well not till landfall somewhere between CA and GOM
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1162. Msdrown
NOLA local news just reported the cold front is going to extend all the way down to the Gulf Coast and a little farther south into the GOM. Anticipating heavy thundershower local LA, MS,AL through the AM. Same thing we have been experiencing from SE TX to Main the last few days.
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Quoting Grothar:
The ULL may be affecting it a little



Cramping 7's style, so to speak. On the other hand, if the ULL beats 7 to the ECAR, it could provide a mega upper stack if it can connect with him. But that's a tricky move, much like refueling an AC130 in flight.
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hydrus just an absolutely amazing satellite shot of Eloise. Grothar still here, it's not past his bedtime is it?
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Quoting Funication:
Link

could not really see this with the bare eye, but WHAT is this?

A cloud.
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Quoting hydrus:
I lived in S.W. Florida then. We were wondering if we would be hit, but the hurricane tracked well west of us. We saw what happened up your way on the news. It was terrible.. You probably remember Eloise. A man I talked to said that the wind was horrific. It would gust to 150 and then slow down to below hurricane strength, rocking and ripping everything to shreds.Hurricane Eloise in the Gulf of Mexico before striking Florida...Formed September 13, 1975
Dissipated September 24, 1975
Highest winds 1-minute sustained:
125 mph (205 km/h)
Lowest pressure 955 mbar (hPa); 28.2 inHg
Fatalities 80 direct
Damage $560 million (1975 USD)
Areas affected Lesser Antilles, Greater Antilles, Yucatán Peninsula, Florida, Eastern United States


In an otherwise lackluster season...

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1156. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:

I think he want it on his house I geuss lol don't bother I tried to tell him


I just want a bit of rain dude. Yes now I know i won't get anything from TD7. Too small TD.
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Quoting JLPR2:


Earlier Kman though there was no 925mb vort because the map malfunctioned, so that would mean no low level circulation, but now that the map updated it is clear that TD 7 is still spinning.

925mb is closer to the surface than 850mb.


can someone post a current vort map for
925mb and 850mb?
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1153. hydrus
Quoting dibird:


I remember well. I live on Dauphin Island.
I lived in S.W. Florida then. We were wondering if we would be hit, but the hurricane tracked well west of us. We saw what happened up your way on the news. It was terrible.. You probably remember Eloise. A man I talked to said that the wind was horrific. It would gust to 150 and then slow down to below hurricane strength, rocking and ripping everything to shreds.Hurricane Eloise in the Gulf of Mexico before striking Florida...Formed September 13, 1975
Dissipated September 24, 1975
Highest winds 1-minute sustained:
125 mph (205 km/h)
Lowest pressure 955 mbar (hPa); 28.2 inHg
Fatalities 80 direct
Damage $560 million (1975 USD)
Areas affected Lesser Antilles, Greater Antilles, Yucatán Peninsula, Florida, Eastern United States
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Getting close to the day when a big ramp up in activity happens, maybe three storms at once and some surprises.
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1151. Grothar
The ULL may be affecting it a little


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1150. JLPR2
Quoting CaribBoy:


Thanks


You're welcome!
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Quoting Grothar:


Is that old alex from years ago? How you doing?
yep it is me and im doing quite well thank you.
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:

I think he want it on his house I geuss lol don't bother I tried to tell him


Pot meet kettle
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Quoting JLPR2:


Earlier Kman though there was no 925mb vort because the map malfunctioned, so that would mean no low level circulation, but now that the map upfdated it is clear that TD 7 is still spinning.

925mb is closer to the surface than 850mb.


Thanks
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Quoting JLPR2:


I don't see it, seems like plain west to me.

I think he want it on his house I geuss lol don't bother I tried to tell him
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:



ok so far us three
Four. I'm waiting to see it open out before I believe it.

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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