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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Just blame the animal and insect behavior on the sun fillament
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TINY WHITE BUGS AND....

Tropical Depression SEVEN
...TROPICAL DEPRESSION HEADING FOR THE WINDWARD ISLANDS ON SATURDAY...
11:00 PM AST Fri Aug 10
Location: 13.9°N 54.1°W
Moving: W at 24 mph
Min pressure: 1009 mb
Max sustained: 35 mph
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1043. hahaguy
Quoting Grothar:


The birds here have been acting strangely for about a week. They fly in groups then separate. Fly around wildly. A few neighbors mentioned it as well.

I have a lake across from my house here in South Florida and usually there are close to 30 birds flying around it. But over the last few days I have only seen only a couple. Strange.
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CANTBELIEVEIT has come on with the same exact comment for days and days now. What commitment, what dedication, what a remarkably concise thought process. Why must he say it again and again and again. You know, it's almost like he can't believe it himself. I think he's on to something........I predict Wisconsin will not be struck this year by a major.
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Quoting redwagon:

Well, my hope for Ernesto (before the GFS forced me to kneel down and start burning quail and rabbits at an altar) was Brownsville, that's the best hope for all of us in drought. Lucky 7 could do it, he's outrunning *all* the dirty coppers.

I don't think people understand how close Austin is to becoming Anasazi if we don't get some rain for these lakes. 'They just got up and left'.


El Nino better do its thing this winter
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If there's a trough digging to the north of TD7, the ridge would weaken allowing it to move NW..
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What's with all the doomsday stuff being posted tonight??
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Quoting Grothar:


The birds here have been acting strangely for about a week. They fly in groups then separate. Fly around wildly. A few neighbors mentioned it as well.


I HAVW SEEN MASSIVE ANT PILES
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Quoting redwagon:

Much of history is caused by bugs. Take the bubonic-plague-infested fleas in Europe. The Dutch elm moth. Fireants. Locusts. Of course, mosquitoes are the worst.


I've always wanted to go to a proper white-sand tropical beach some day...but...mosquitoes LOVE me, they swarm to me LOL so dunno if it'd be a good idea unless I could find a nice tropical beach where they aren't a problem!
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1036. Grothar
Quoting Tribucanes:
Ants behaving strangely was commented on no fewer than twenty times today by many different bloggers, most were in Florida. Never seen ants commented on like this here, ever. Something must be up for sure. Many said birds are acting flighty too in many regions.


The birds here have been acting strangely for about a week. They fly in groups then separate. Fly around wildly. A few neighbors mentioned it as well.
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Quoting Grothar:


Don't get funny. I've only been through two.


My b:)
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Quoting RitaEvac:
Maybe some big rains coming for me according to ants

Well, my hope for Ernesto (before the GFS forced me to kneel down and start burning quail and rabbits at an altar) was Brownsville, that's the best hope for all of us in drought. Lucky 7 could do it, he's outrunning *all* the dirty coppers.

I don't think people understand how close Austin is to becoming Anasazi if we don't get some rain for these lakes. 'They just got up and left'.
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Quoting RitaEvac:
Speaking of fire ants, they seem to be on the run here in SE TX, small mounds popping up in back yard and up in the mulch by foundation of house, got bit watering the grass where there was no mound and seeing em on concrete here and there going in different directions
What you describe is the behavior that has the highest correlation to incoming water. Mounds in unusual rarely if ever seen places. The higher the mound the more the water, or lower pressure.
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1031. Grothar
Quoting weatherh98:


That was your what? 4th or 5th extinction?


Don't get funny. I've only been through two.
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Quoting LoneStarWeather:

I took two years. Unfortunately, it was almost exclusively reading and writing. There was very little conversation.


I took in in high school for 2 years...but then I worked with a gal who lived in Germany for a few years...and it seems every phrase I learned in high school was wrong! haha Guess textbook wasn't the same common usage or something?!
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1028. Grothar
Anybody in South Florida experiencing the infestation of the spiraling white fly. It is virtually killing everything. First the ficus, now the palms and black olive trees. In the mornings, cars are covered with them and our pool has a white layer of film from the wings. No eradication plan for them either. Nothing kills them.
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Ants behaving strangely was commented on no fewer than twenty times today by many different bloggers, most were in Florida. Never seen ants commented on like this here, ever. Something must be up for sure. Many said birds are acting flighty too in many regions.
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1026. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
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Quoting Grothar:


I've always detested mass extinctions. Very inconvenient.


That was your what? 4th or 5th extinction?
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TROPICAL DEPRESSION SEVEN DISCUSSION NUMBER 6
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL072012
1100 PM AST FRI AUG 10 2012

WHILE THERE HAS BEEN SOME INCREASE IN DEEP CONVECTION NEAR THE
CENTER OVER THE PAST FEW HOURS...THE OVERALL CLOUD PATTERN REMAINS
RATHER SHAPELESS WITH LITTLE EVIDENCE OF BANDING. SATELLITE
ESTIMATES ARE STILL T1.5 FROM TAFB AND SAB...AND THE INITIAL
INTENSITY OF 30 KT IS BASED ON A 1-MINUTE WIND OBSERVATION AT NOAA
BUOY 41040 OF 31 KNOTS AT 2246Z. THE ENVIRONMENT IS CURRENTLY
MARGINAL FOR INTENSIFICATION...AND THE SHIPS MODEL SHOWS THE SHEAR
INCREASING ABOVE 20 KT IN THE NEXT DAY OR SO AS AN UPPER-LEVEL
TROUGH AMPLIFIES TO THE NORTHWEST OF THE CYCLONE. THE NEW NHC
FORECAST SHOWS THE DEPRESSION BECOMING A TROPICAL STORM IN 12 HOURS
WITH LITTLE CHANGE AFTER THAT TIME UNTIL DISSIPATION IN 72 HOURS.
THIS SCENARIO IS SUPPORTED BY THE GFS AND ECMWF GLOBAL MODELS...
WHICH CONTINUE TO SHOW THE CYCLONE DEGENERATING INTO A TROUGH OVER
THE EASTERN OR CENTRAL CARIBBEAN SEA IN 2 TO 3 DAYS.

THE DEPRESSION CONTINUES TO MOVE RAPIDLY WESTWARD WITH AN INITIAL
MOTION OF 275/21. THIS MOTION IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE THROUGH
DISSIPATION AS THE TROPICAL CYCLONE IS STEERED BY THE ATLANTIC
SUBTROPICAL RIDGE TO THE NORTH. THE NEW NHC FORECAST IS AN UPDATE
OF THE PREVIOUS ONE AND IS CLOSE TO A CONSENSUS OF THE GFS AND
ECMWF MODELS.

GIVEN THE CONTINUING UNCERTAINTY AS TO WHETHER THE DEPRESSION WILL
BECOME A TROPICAL STORM...TROPICAL STORM WATCHES CONTINUE FOR PART
OF THE LESSER ANTILLES...EVEN THOUGH TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS
WOULD REACH THOSE LOCATIONS WITHIN THE NEXT 24 TO 36 HOURS.

FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INIT 11/0300Z 13.9N 54.1W 30 KT 35 MPH
12H 11/1200Z 14.1N 57.0W 35 KT 40 MPH
24H 12/0000Z 14.3N 60.8W 35 KT 40 MPH
36H 12/1200Z 14.6N 64.7W 35 KT 40 MPH
48H 13/0000Z 14.8N 68.7W 35 KT 40 MPH
72H 14/0000Z...DISSIPATED

$$
FORECASTER BRENNAN
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Maybe some big rains coming for me according to ants
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1021. Grothar
Looks like a little blowup of convection in the North part of TD 7.

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European bankers and top politicians fear a collapse of the Euro
Posted on August 11, 2012


August 11, 2012 – ECONOMY – Until recently, it was a sign of political correctness not even to consider the possibility of a euro collapse. Investment experts at Deutsche Bank –Germany’s largest bank — now feel that a collapse of the common currency is “a very likely scenario.” Germany’s second-largest bank — Commerzbank — has also flagged fears of a Eurozone collapse whilst bracing for a worsening of the euro-crisis. “The greatest downside risk remains an uncertainty shock from an escalation of the sovereign debt crisis, ie, the collapse of the monetary union,’ Commerzbank states in its latest quarterly report released this week, adding that it thought the risk was higher now than in autumn last year..........

Link
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Speaking of fire ants, they seem to be on the run here in SE TX, small mounds popping up in back yard and up in the mulch by foundation of house, got bit watering the grass where there was no mound and seeing em on concrete here and there going in different directions
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Death toll in Mexico from storm Ernesto rises to six
Posted on August 10, 2012
August 10, 2012 – MEXICO - The death toll attributed to the storm Ernesto rose to six on Friday although it continued to weaken as it passed through Mexico’s eastern Veracruz state. Three members of one family were killed on Thursday night when a tree fell on their pick-up truck about 60 miles southwest of Veracruz City, according to a state civil protection official. A fourth family member, a six-year-old child, was also injured in the accident. Ernesto is blamed for causing torrential rains and flooding in nearby rivers. According to local officials, three other people died earlier on Thursday — one in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, after falling while working on home repairs; and two more who drowned in next-door Tabasco state. Three major oil-exporting ports in the Gulf of Mexico were re-opened on Friday morning as the storm no longer posed a risk to ships leaving installations in Coatzacoalcos, Cayo Arcas and Dos Bocas, which ship most of Mexico’s crude oil exports. Flooding could damage agriculture in southern Veracruz, a major corn producing area, according to Federico Assaleih, president of the state’s agriculture council. “We have received reports that some (corn) plantations were flooded yesterday,” said Assaleih, but he added that the extent of crop damage would not be known for several days.” Ernesto, which the U.S. National Hurricane Center said dissipated on Friday morning, made landfall on Mexico’s Yucatan coast late on Tuesday as a Category 1 hurricane. –Reuters

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Deleted
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1016. JLPR2
Quoting tennisgirl08:


You can see where the shear is starting to affect TD7 on his western side.


Starting to feel it, will be an interesting show tonight.
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1015. JLPR2
Next buoy at TD 7's way:

14.6N
56.2W

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1014. Hugo5
http://www.messagetoeagle.com/crackinthesundanger.p hp

This was the article referenced, I believe. No NASA officals named, it does reference a two word quote from a Bolder, CO professor.
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Quoting Grothar:


You should be pretty good though.

Used to be ok but you know what they say. Use it or lose it. My grandpa was the only one in my family who spoke it and he never did around me or my dad for that matter. German was kind of frowned upon back then around here. :)
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Quoting Tribucanes:
Aphids are no little matter . Reason for the Irish potato famine no less. Little hungry pains they are. Really weird feature on the sun though, troubling. So Pat you got called out there. Did NASA scientists really say UNPRECEDENTED? I have never seen you make up or enhance wording of scientists before, nor do I doubt you now. :)

Much of history is caused by bugs. Take the bubonic-plague-infested fleas in Europe. The Dutch elm moth. Fireants. Locusts. Of course, mosquitoes are the worst.
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Potato blight caused the famine technically. Aphids were the leading insect infest that caused the blight Grothar. I was educated in the Carolina's though; so could easily be wrong. :)
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1010. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting Patrap:

Southwest Quadrant and Filament (Friday) - By Ron Cottrell

www.solarham.net


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1009. Grothar
Quoting weatherh98:


If you survived the mass kt extinction what's a little solar flare?


I've always detested mass extinctions. Very inconvenient.
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1008. Grothar
Quoting Tribucanes:
Aphids are no little matter . Reason for the Irish potato famine no less. Little hungry pains they are. Really weird feature on the sun though, troubling. So Pat you got called out there. Did NASA scientists really say UNPRECEDENTED? I have never seen you make up or enhance wording of scientists before, nor do I doubt you now. :)


I don't believe it was aphids that caused the blight. I may be wrong.
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Quoting mitthbevnuruodo:


Oh I would love a good German meal! My dad bought into a German restaurant when I was a teenager in San Diego and it was SO good. The Jaegerschniztle and goulash with spaeztle noodles or potato pancakes. I keep thinking of bugging him to dig up the recipes for me as there are no proper German restaurants in the N/W UK. Only a few like, sausage-bier haus type places. Which I think is odd being the proximity to Germany...but the British don't like the Germans in general, so.... maybe why LOL

LOL

hahaha! Makes me think of A Fish Called Wanda!
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


You can see where the shear is starting to affect TD7 on his western side.
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1005. Grothar
Quoting LoneStarWeather:

I took two years. Unfortunately, it was almost exclusively reading and writing. There was very little conversation.


You should be pretty good though.
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Quoting Grothar:


How many years did you take?

I took two years. Unfortunately, it was almost exclusively reading and writing. There was very little conversation.
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TD7, please do what the UKMET is showing
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moisture field seems to be building around TD 7 like I said it would and is being helped as TD7 drags moisture from its WSW-SW

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Aphids are no little matter . Reason for the Irish potato famine no less. Little hungry pains they are. Really weird feature on the sun though, troubling. So Pat you got called out there. Did NASA scientists really say UNPRECEDENTED? I have never seen you make up or enhance wording of scientists before, nor do I doubt you now. :)
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Hmmm...watch for homegrown mischief when the trough dips down and mixes with all that energy in the tropics.

TD7 plays just one small part of that equation.
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999. JLPR2
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

No, I think it's 56W.


ლ(ಠ益ಠლ)
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

No, I think it's 56W.
55.76499592616 NOUTHWEAST
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Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting JLPR2:
Here's a positive between the negatives of entering the Caribbean.



TCHP increases at 55W.

No, I think it's 56W.
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Quoting Tazmanian:



Nice. Mine iPad 2 was newer so it came with iOS 5.1.1 out of the box


I know you are tech nut and will enjoy it. I'm in a car in Auburn now. I love the mobility. It's a great tool that I use in my publishing business every day. And it comes in handy as the tropical season heat up...BTW, I think this season will throw us a few surprises. I expect a conus hit.
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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