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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That's the fates invest that I've ever seen.
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Quoting Grothar:


Wow, it is covering 1 and 8!


I hope the coming mjo will bring us rainnn
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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.
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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?"



Tunnels...

ya mean you don't know about tunnels

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

: )
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The latest I could find on Cayman Weather Radar project:

Work on the Cayman Islands Doppler weather radar tower in East End is on schedule according to government officials who expect the new radar antenna and dome to be completed and operational well before the end of this year. Presently under construction by Island Builders Ltd, the tower for the radar antenna is now at more than 41 feet high. Once the radar and dome housing arrive on island in August the German radar provider SELEX S.I. will winch them into position atop the tower, set up, testing, calibration and training will then commence. Officials are all keen to see the project come to fruition as it is important to both aviation and weather services.

Director General of the National Weather Service, Fred Sambula explained what the new system will offer. “The radar will be operated by trained in-house meteorological staff and technicians, who will ensure that the radar is functional at all times,’ he said. “A powerful, high-precision Doppler radar is particularly suited to the extremely heavy rainfall and thunderstorm activity in the tropical oceanic regions and we are really looking forward to it becoming fully operational in time for next year’s hurricane season.”

The radar will have a range of about 400 km (250 miles) and it will provide weather surveillance over all three islands and the surrounding maritime areas.

Officials claim the technology will improve weather forecasting and allow local meteorologists to easily observe, track and study heavy rainfall events, waterspouts and so-called “freak storms”. The Doppler will also issue information to the National Hurricane Centre in Miami, from which that organisation will create a composite of radar information from the whole Caribbean.
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Quoting MontanaZephyr:


This season so far is not notable for its predictability nor lack of surprises.

Meanwhile, a little of topic but still earth sciencey:

The blood red lake beauty spot which is startling tourists in southern France


Link


Great pictures.
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I said catch it! :)
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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.
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Big E:

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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
The Atlantic should be quite active late this month...and into September, of course.



Wow, it is covering 1 and 8!
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Quoting LargoFl, Abacosurf:
..yes this is the one we need to watch..latest nam has it going towards the texas area, changed from this morning

Really? Love a link for that, it's just too hot here. tia
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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.
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I CAN'T BELIEVE THE NORTHERN LEEWARDS WON'T EVEN GET A DROPPPPPPPPPPPPP!!!
TUTT PLEASE CATCH IT! CATCH ITTTTTT AND SENT IT NORTH...
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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!
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Quoting LargoFl:
.............................72 hour NOAA forecast

The forecast has been changed since then.
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Quoting Jedkins01:


What exactly is your definition of lower 48 then?


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

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.............................72 hour NOAA forecast
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Quoting GTcooliebai:
94E is massive:



GT, Largo if 94E & Gilma passed through the same waters before Ernesto/???# won't that reduce the SST's and hurt it????
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Quoting Msdrown:




No kidding patient. They aren't real time or even close. It was the same one Largo sent me a while ago with the local time stopping at 6am. Maybe I should try the Yucatan???


Not surprising really - probably botched up ex Russian Military Coastal Defence or Air Defence Radars from the bad old days.

We were meant to be getting a Weather Radar in Grand Cayman - will have to investigate what has or is happening with that
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18z Early Cycle NHC model tracks
TD #7

Statistical/Simple Models (CLIPER,BAMs,LBAR,other Statistical Models)




Dynamic Models (More sophisticated models)





Early Model Wind Forecasts

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I'd give TD Seven a 30% chance of dissipating over the next 48 hours, and an 90% chance of dissipating between 48 hours and 120 hours out.
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94E is bigger than the western U.S..
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..............................gee storms all over the place today
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Quoting CosmicEvents:
It's looking kind of busty at the moment but we still have the peak and historical bulk of the season ahead of us.


This season so far is not notable for its predictability nor lack of surprises.

Meanwhile, a little of topic but still earth sciencey:

The blood red lake beauty spot which is startling tourists in southern France


Link
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Quoting Abacosurf:
watch SW of Jamaica. This will be in the gulf Monday.
..yes this is the one we need to watch..latest nam has it going towards the texas area, changed from this morning
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SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
MAC011-013-015-027-102230-
/O.NEW.KBOX.SV.W.0088.120810T2145Z-120810T2230Z/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TAUNTON MA
545 PM EDT FRI AUG 10 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN TAUNTON HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR...
WEST CENTRAL WORCESTER COUNTY IN CENTRAL MASSACHUSETTS...
SOUTHEASTERN FRANKLIN COUNTY IN WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS...
EASTERN HAMPDEN COUNTY IN WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS...
SOUTHEASTERN HAMPSHIRE COUNTY IN WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS...

* UNTIL 630 PM EDT

* AT 541 PM EDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING DAMAGING WINDS IN EXCESS
OF 60 MPH. THIS STORM WAS LOCATED NEAR MONSON...OR 9 MILES EAST OF
SPRINGFIELD...AND WAS MOVING NORTHEAST AT 35 MPH.

* SOME LOCATIONS IN THE WARNING INCLUDE...BRIMFIELD...PALMER...
WARREN...WARE...WEST BROOKFIELD...NORTH BROOKFIELD...NEW
BRAINTREE...HARDWICK...OAKHAM...BARRE AND PETERSHAM.

SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS PRODUCE DAMAGING WINDS AND LARGE HAIL...AS WELL
AS DEADLY LIGHTNING AND TORRENTIAL RAIN. GET TO SAFE SHELTER NOW...
INSIDE A STURDY BUILDING OR IN A VEHICLE. DO NOT SEEK SHELTER UNDER
TREES. IF YOU CAN HEAR THUNDER...YOU ARE CLOSE ENOUGH TO BE STRUCK BY
LIGHTNING. DRIVERS SHOULD BE ALERT FOR PONDING OF WATER AND AVOID
FLOODED ROADS.

&&

LAT...LON 4254 7225 4242 7196 4203 7225 4204 7252
TIME...MOT...LOC 2145Z 205DEG 32KT 4215 7234

$$

WTB
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369. VR46L
Quoting CosmicEvents:
It's looking kind of busty at the moment but we still have the peak and historical bulk of the season ahead of us.


LOL Cosmic ... But very true



Quoting GTcooliebai:
Way too early for that, check back in at the end of Oct. and we will find out. Also this chart shows the peak of the season:


True . And am quite aware of THE CHART LOL
But with this season , the season I thought was going to be active upto September and then its to be virtually over with EL NINO predicted to arrive around then unless I have been misinformed.
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watch SW of Jamaica. This will be in the gulf Monday.
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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.
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Quoting GTcooliebai:
94E is massive:

...........wow
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TD7 is telling the TUTT, "Catch me if you can."

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.............................................sort of nasty line of storms moving up the state
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94E is massive:

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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

No...it's pretty surprising.


Lol. No, not really.
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Blob in the caribbean been sticking around all day...
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The Atlantic should be quite active late this month...and into September, of course.

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Quoting KoritheMan:


Uh, don't kill me, but I'm in the dissipation camp for now. :P


Save a spot for me, well I should already have one since I was on it last night too lol ;)

I expect it to get a second chance if it can survive passage through the islands and the E-Cent Caribbean with its mid level energy still intact.
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....................................calm and nice outside now by me, guess that will change
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Quoting MississippiWx:


Considering the fast starts of most El Nino years, not really. Add on the hybrid features (3), not that surprising...

No...it's pretty surprising.
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Quoting VR46L:
So TD7 is apparently pretty much a bust !! One wonders if the season is pretty much a bust!!





Way too early for that, check back in at the end of Oct. and we will find out. Also this chart shows the peak of the season:

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Quoting VR46L:
So TD7 is apparently pretty much a bust !! One wonders if the season is pretty much a bust!!





It's looking kind of busty at the moment but we still have the peak and historical bulk of the season ahead of us.
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BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
FLASH FLOOD WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TAUNTON MA
555 PM EDT FRI AUG 10 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN TAUNTON HAS ISSUED A

* FLASH FLOOD WARNING FOR...
ESSEX COUNTY IN EASTERN MASSACHUSETTS...

* UNTIL 1000 PM EDT

* AT 548 PM EDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED
ONE HOUR RAINFALL RATES OF 1 TO 2 INCHES FROM A LINE OF
THUNDERSTORMS MOVING NORTH ACROSS OVER THE WARNED AREA. ALREADY
REPORTS HAVE BEEN RECEIVED OF ROADS BECOMING INUNDATED WITH
SEVERAL INCHES OF WATER IN A VERY SHORT PERIOD OF TIME

FLASH FLOODING OF SMALL STREAMS AND URBAN AREAS IS OCCURRING OR
IMMINENT. THOSE NEAR STREAMS AND CREEKS...OR IN AREAS PRONE TO
FLOODING SHOULD MOVE TO HIGHER GROUND IMMEDIATELY. AVOID FLOODED
ROADS. THE WATER MAY BE TOO DEEP TO ALLOW VEHICLES TO CROSS SAFELY...
OR THE ROADWAY MAY BE UNDERMINED. TURN AROUND...DONT DROWN!



LAT...LON 4287 7081 4270 7077 4266 7069 4270 7063
4264 7057 4250 7081 4254 7085 4253 7084
4254 7085 4248 7082 4244 7093 4242 7091
4246 7104 4258 7103 4265 7125 4274 7125
4274 7119 4282 7116 4289 7090



SIPPRELL
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting VR46L:
So TD7 is apparently pretty much a bust !! One wonders if the season is pretty much a bust!!







This season would be a bust if the numbers were significantly above average. A "bust" is when a forecast goes bad.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


The sad part is, with the exception of Irene, that is the closest the lower 48 has come to a hurricane in many years.


What exactly is your definition of lower 48 then?
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349. VR46L
So TD7 is apparently pretty much a bust !! One wonders if the season is pretty much a bust!!





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Radar signatures picking up on the MA/RI/CT band of severe weather, as the hail/torrential rain in Taunton at the radar site backs off a bit.
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..................................omg, just look at all the warnings
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Quoting Ameister12:

Yeah, I just read it. You did a nice job.


Thank you I really appreciate it.
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Quoting jascott1967:


Not yet but like I was inferring yesterday or the day before, it's very difficult to calculate how a land based African wave will respond once it hit water. It certainly does not look good at the moment.
I wonder how the SSTs are over there if anyone has a map.
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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