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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Quoting Grothar:


Was that from High Anxiety?


Quote from the soup Nazi on the Jerry Seinfeld show.
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444. JLPR2
Quoting MississippiWx:


Am I the only one who gets a whole lot of humor out of these rants??? LOL.


Probably... :P
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Ugh... here we go again. WW3 is gonna break out on the blog. Let me know when its over and we can go back to actually forecasting.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

I said...

"No use trying to reason with him. He always finds a way to say conditions are favorable for a storm and that it will strengthen."

The truth hurts.

Don't all storms develop into hypercanes and pass over a portion of the Caymans, WKC's portion that is??? Now where is that darn shower curtain...
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441. JLPR2
Water Vapor loop shows TD 7 is clearing its path, the line of dry air is getting thinner and thinner.

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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
Lets see so today:

We had some kind of a hook echo up north
Some kind of a landcane
Some kind of an earthquake in AK
I managed to for the first time get a comment removed, not just 1 but 2, and i have no idea what they said
I got a tooth filling
The blog lost excitement in 93L...
I miss anything?

btw if anybody has any radar images from the NE storms today, i missed it all...


You missed the political debate that errupted and the possible banning of jrweatherman for starting it.
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
EXCUSE ME WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY

AH HELL NO!!!!!!!!

I said...

"No use trying to reason with him. He always finds a way to say conditions are favorable for a storm and that it will strengthen."

Need me to say it a third time?
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Quoting Grothar:


Its Wiener Schnitzel. Wiener coming from Vienna which in German is Wien. Got to go. I'll continue the geography and language lessons latter.

Chow

as long as were giving lessons, don't you mean "later"? :)
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:

yesh sure it will give it time maybe maybe not but time is the key


ha ha ha lol



BIG DIFFRENCE AND IT IS
I AM NOT WISH CASTING


EXCUSE ME WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY

AH HELL NO!!!!!!!!



Am I the only one who gets a whole lot of humor out of these rants??? LOL.
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Quoting Grothar:
We are going out to a nice German Restaurant tonight, so I can't be late. If you are they make you stand at attention until you're finished with your meal.

I expect a little action when I get back. In the Atlantic, I mean.


Oh come on Gro don't sell yourself short.... :)
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Sigh...I tried I guess asking for a little rain is just too much. I believe in fairness.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:


Its Wiener Schnitzel. Wiener coming from Vienna which in German is Wien. Got to go. I'll continue the geography and language lessons latter.

Chow

now who can't take the joke...did you forget to read the ":)"?
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
Lets see so today:

We had some kind of a hook echo up north
Some kind of a landcane
Some kind of an earthquake in AK
I managed to for the first time get a comment removed, not just 1 but 2, and i have no idea what they said
I got a tooth filling
The blog lost excitement in 93L...
I miss anything?

btw if anybody has any radar images from the NE storms today, i missed it all...

You could go back some pages.


The only one I saved to my computer

(not mine since I don't have the program)
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Quoting hunkerdown:

You mean the weener schnitzel :)


Its Wiener Schnitzel. Wiener coming from Vienna which in German is Wien. Got to go. I'll continue the geography and language lessons latter.

Chow
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Quoting Grothar:
We are going out to a nice German Restaurant tonight, so I can't be late. If you are they make you stand at attention until you're finished with your meal.

I expect a little action when I get back. In the Atlantic, I mean.

jägerschnitzel ist wunderbar
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Quoting hurrtracker1994:


While TD07 may be a fighter, I am not so sure it will be able to fight dry air, 30kt shear, and trade winds all at the same time. Thus the reason for the NHC stating degeneration is possible.

yesh sure it will give it time maybe maybe not but time is the key

Quoting PRweathercenter:
it appears that us island people seem to like storms, lol ;-)

ha ha ha lol


Quoting GTcooliebai:
Wait a minute you're allowed to wishcast, but CaribBoy is not allowed to wishcast?

BIG DIFFRENCE AND IT IS
I AM NOT WISH CASTING

Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

No use trying to reason with him. He always finds a way to say conditions are favorable for a storm and that it will strengthen.

EXCUSE ME WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY

AH HELL NO!!!!!!!!

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Quoting Grothar:


Was that from High Anxiety?

giddyup :(
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Quoting Grothar:
We are going out to a nice German Restaurant tonight, so I can't be late. If you are they make you stand at attention until you're finished with your meal.

I expect a little action when I get back. In the Atlantic, I mean.
Don't forget to try the German Chocolate Cake, I used to have it at my workplace all the time.
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Quoting jascott1967:


No soup for you!


Was that from High Anxiety?
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
Lets see so today:

We had some kind of a hook echo up north
Some kind of a landcane
Some kind of an earthquake in AK
I managed to for the first time get a comment removed, not just 1 but 2, and i have no idea what they said
I got a tooth filling
The blog lost excitement in 93L...
I miss anything?

btw if anybody has any radar images from the NE storms today, i missed it all...


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:
We are going out to a nice German Restaurant tonight, so I can't be late. If you are they make you stand at attention until you're finished with your meal.

I expect a little action when I get back. In the Atlantic, I mean.

Tell us what y'all ordered when you get back! It's just too hot here to do anything but drink your dinner.
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Quoting Patrap:


Try the Borsch and da Veal. Its veally, vealley Good there I hear.

You mean the weener schnitzel :)
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Lets see so today:

We had some kind of a hook echo up north
Some kind of a landcane
Some kind of an earthquake in AK
I managed to for the first time get a comment removed, not just 1 but 2, and i have no idea what they said
I got a tooth filling
The blog lost excitement in 93L...
I miss anything?

btw if anybody has any radar images from the NE storms today, i missed it all...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting hunkerdown:


Any highway built under the auspices of the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 and funded by the federal governent is called an interstate highway, even if it doesn't cross state lines. In fact, there are many local routes that lie entirely within a single state funded by the Act.

Hawaii has three interstates - H1, H2, and H3 - which connect important military facilities on the island of Oahu.



Geez, you guys take even take a joke anymore without getting technical on me. LOL

Well, here is a little bit of trivia on the highway system. It is mandated that every certain amount of miles, any Interstate Highway system must have stretches of 2 miles completely straight road without anything on the sides. This is in the event military planes have to make a landing.

so there :)
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

No use trying to reason with him. He always finds a way to say conditions are favorable for a storm and that it will strengthen.


Oh well, I am starting to get used to the wishcasting on here. Thanks for the heads up.
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Quoting Grothar:
We are going out to a nice German Restaurant tonight, so I can't be late. If you are they make you stand at attention until you're finished with your meal.

I expect a little action when I get back. In the Atlantic, I mean.


No soup for you!
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Quoting Grothar:
We are going out to a nice German Restaurant tonight, so I can't be late. If you are they make you stand at attention until you're finished with your meal.

I expect a little action when I get back. In the Atlantic, I mean.


Lol...Gro.

They would make you "heil Hitler" and everything??
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Quoting Msdrown:



I guess you have never been there. This is Ohau the most populated Island. When I lived there I had to drive 50 miles round trip to work because I had to drive around Pearl Harbor. I stopped doing that because I lived on a beach and started Kyaking to work which was much more relaxing and healthier.



Yes, I've been there many, many times.
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Quoting hurrtracker1994:


While TD07 may be a fighter, I am not so sure it will be able to fight dry air, 30kt shear, and trade winds all at the same time. Thus the reason for the NHC stating degeneration is possible.

No use trying to reason with him. He always finds a way to say conditions are favorable for a storm and that it will strengthen.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:
We are going out to a nice German Restaurant tonight, so I can't be late. If you are they make you stand at attention until you're finished with your meal.

I expect a little action when I get back. In the Atlantic, I mean.


Try the Borsch and da Veal. Its veally, vealley Good there I hear.
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Quoting Grothar:


That doesn't confuse me. What I want to know is, why does Hawaii have an "Interstate Highway system?"



Any highway built under the auspices of the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 and funded by the federal governent is called an interstate highway, even if it doesn't cross state lines. In fact, there are many local routes that lie entirely within a single state funded by the Act.

Hawaii has three interstates - H1, H2, and H3 - which connect important military facilities on the island of Oahu.
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
ok this is my forecast cone
I'll keep it like this till TD7/TS Gordon makes it pass the windward island by that time we should have a better idea of how the conditions are out there in the Caribbean




so very true I'm with you on that


STOP DREAMING!!!!


Yes I know today TD7 has proved it it has been fighting fairly dry air all day and now it looks better than before I'd say TD 7 looks to be the best fighter storm there is for this year
Wait a minute you're allowed to wishcast, but CaribBoy is not allowed to wishcast?
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Quoting VR46L:
So TD7 is apparently pretty much a bust !! One wonders if the season is pretty much a bust!!







Good forecasting skills mate, calling a season a bust by a single tropical depression.
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We are going out to a nice German Restaurant tonight, so I can't be late. If you are they make you stand at attention until you're finished with your meal.

I expect a little action when I get back. In the Atlantic, I mean.
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Gulf Of Mexico - Rainbow Loop
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
ok this is my forecast cone
I'll keep it like this till TD7/TS Gordon makes it pass the windward island by that time we should have a better idea of how the conditions are out there in the Caribbean




so very true I'm with you on that


STOP DREAMING!!!!


Yes I know today TD7 has proved it it has been fighting fairly dry air all day and now it looks better than before I'd say TD 7 looks to be the best fighter storm there is for this year
it appears that us island people seem to like storms, lol ;-)
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
ok this is my forecast cone
I'll keep it like this till TD7/TS Gordon makes it pass the windward island by that time we should have a better idea of how the conditions are out there in the Caribbean




so very true I'm with you on that


STOP DREAMING!!!!


Yes I know today TD7 has proved it it has been fighting fairly dry air all day and now it looks better than before I'd say TD 7 looks to be the best fighter storm there is for this year


While TD07 may be a fighter, I am not so sure it will be able to fight dry air, 30kt shear, and trade winds all at the same time. Thus the reason for the NHC stating degeneration is possible.
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TD 7 WV Loop

Ack, coff, sputter...



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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


RETAG 94E


He'll always be Ernesto to me. :-)
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Quoting Grothar:


That doesn't confuse me. What I want to know is, why does Hawaii have an "Interstate Highway system?"




I guess you have never been there. This is Ohau the most populated Island. When I lived there I had to drive 50 miles round trip to work because I had to drive around Pearl Harbor. I stopped doing that because I lived on a beach and started Kyaking to work which was much more relaxing and healthier.
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Quoting Patrap:
94E is a Goner.

A Poofer IMHO.

Fresca?


A what?
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ok this is my forecast cone
I'll keep it like this till TD7/TS Gordon makes it pass the windward island by that time we should have a better idea of how the conditions are out there in the Caribbean



Quoting stormpetrol:
The reason I think TD7 Might survive , though smaller than Ernesto , it has a much more intact LLC than Ernest o at this stage, just my opinion though!

so very true I'm with you on that

Quoting CaribBoy:
I CAN'T BELIEVE THE NORTHERN LEEWARDS WON'T EVEN GET A DROPPPPPPPPPPPPP!!!
TUTT PLEASE CATCH IT! CATCH ITTTTTT AND SENT IT NORTH...

STOP DREAMING!!!!

Quoting StormThug:
Don't count TD7 out yet he is a fighter..if he makes it to the western carribean he could be a problem with those boiling ss temps.

Yes I know today TD7 has proved it it has been fighting fairly dry air all day and now it looks better than before I'd say TD 7 looks to be the best fighter storm there is for this year
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Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:


Tunnels...

ya mean you don't know about tunnels

Right here on WU.... you should have heard....

: )



LOL. forgot about those. Whatever happened to him?
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94E is a Goner.

A Poofer IMHO.

Fresca?

..Movin on
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Nature is making me wait longer and longer for Isaac.Thankfully it looks like the other storms won't amount to much.Gordon(if T.D 7 decides to develop) will hopefully be a weak storm.Also Helene(If 93L decides to develop) will stay out to sea.Hoping future Isaac does the same.


You must have angered nature in some way. In order to make nature happy again you must drink a Fresca...with sand in it!!!
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East Conus is lighted up!


GOES East Wilmington, NC
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Hey, Ameister. It is a big one.

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Quoting aspectre:
309 954FtLCane Has anyone f5'd this site and starting hearing investment news? It's happened to me 4 times today. I've never had this happen before

Narrowly-targeted advertising. Curiosity piqued by BBC's TopGear LeaderBoard, I looked up a buncha exotic sports cars... then was swamped with video-ads from high-end luxury auto dealers.
Which is how Google makes BIG bucks from letting customers search for free.


Thanks. Wow, well y'all know what I'm searching when I'm not on the blog.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting stormpetrol:
I don"t see any 5 day cone, maybe the NHC is expecting TD7/Gordon to dissipate after it enters the eastern Caribbean.


That is exactly right...they plan on it dissipating
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Quoting MississippiWx:
Big E:



RETAG 94E
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That's the fates invest that I've ever seen.
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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