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:


Hello.


Mownin!
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1544. Msdrown
Quoting drg0dOwnCountry:


How fast are we from Food Rationing? I guess we are not far from the revival of Victory Gardens.


Already there on the victory gardens in my area for four yrs now. Food scares and high prices started it an now this drought. We catch rain water for the crops and for now unlike CO/Ut we can leagly do that.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
by the looks of things no Gordon today. may have to look towards Africa for the next cyclone
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1542. LargoFl
Quoting Redbull77:
Youngsville Louisiana has gotten 4 inches of rain this morning
yes and more to come, stay safe over there folks, flooding is going to be a problem there
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Quoting Redbull77:
Youngsville Louisiana has gotten 4 inches of rain this morning


welcome to ze blog
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The low pressure south of cuba is that what CMC had going up to S FL as TD or TS???
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Youngsville Louisiana has gotten 4 inches of rain this morning
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1538. Grothar
Quoting hydrus:
Chris landsea said that The 1926 Miami Hurricane may have been the largest hurricane ever ti strike the U.S.. Man do I wish we had satellites from 1900 on....Good morning ancient one.


Hello.
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1537. LargoFl
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
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Quoting LemieT:


I'm on as well. Another round of phantom weather it seems. Our action has been mediocre this year.



Morning Lemmie, Ryan & Julie guess we're going to get some showers today? any idea when the TD will pass?
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94E...partially associated with the remains of Ernesto...has maximum sustained winds of 30 knots and minimum pressure of 1002 mb (kinda low for a Atlantic TD)
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1533. Msdrown
Quoting RTSplayer:
I wonder what the maximum annual erosion rates are in Panama?

They get hammered by every nearly wave of convection coming through the ITCZ, and what is going through there now was massive "greens" on the Funktop, especially about 2 hours ago.

All that water has to go somewhere...


Spent some time there and Rain is the norm except during the winter which is usually dry season. When it rains there as you suggest because it is very hilly/mountainy in minuets you can have white water rivers where there was nothing. Waterfalls where there wasn't even a trickle. But it does drain off quickly. All of the water around the coast lines in the PAC or Carib will turn brown. Even the Canal will do that. Erosion rate do not remember.
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1532. LargoFl
must be alot of flooding there.................ULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
FLASH FLOOD WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE LAKE CHARLES LA
751 AM CDT SAT AUG 11 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN LAKE CHARLES HAS ISSUED A

* FLASH FLOOD WARNING FOR...
NORTHEASTERN VERMILION PARISH IN SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA...
NORTHWESTERN IBERIA PARISH IN SOUTH CENTRAL LOUISIANA...
NORTHWESTERN ST. MARY PARISH IN SOUTH CENTRAL LOUISIANA...
SOUTHEASTERN LAFAYETTE PARISH IN SOUTH CENTRAL LOUISIANA...
WEST CENTRAL ST. MARTIN PARISH IN SOUTH CENTRAL LOUISIANA...

* UNTIL 1100 AM CDT

* AT 747 AM CDT...THE PUBLIC REPORTED SLOW MOVING THUNDERSTORMS
WITH VERY HEAVY RAINFALL ACROSS THE WARNED AREA. 4 INCHES OF RAIN
HAS BEEN REPORTED IN THE YOUNGSVILLE AREA. ADDITIONAL HEAVY RAIN IS
MOVING INTO THE AREA WITH UP TO TWO ADDITIONAL INCHES EXPECTED.

* RUNOFF FROM THIS EXCESSIVE RAINFALL WILL CAUSE FLASH FLOODING TO
OCCUR. SOME LOCATIONS THAT WILL EXPERIENCE FLOODING INCLUDE...
ABBEVILLE...AVERY ISLAND...JEANERETTE...LAFAYETTE...NEW IBERIA...
ST. MARTINVILLE...ACADIANA REGIONAL AIRPORT...BALDWIN...
BROUSSARD...CADE...COTEAU...DELCAMBRE...ERATH...GL ENCOE...HENRY...
JEFFERSON ISLAND...LAKE FAUSSE POINTE...LOREAUVILLE...LYDIA...
MAURICE...MEAUX...SORREL AND YOUNGSVILLE.

LEGEND CREEK ROAD IN YOUNGSVILLE HAS BEEN REPORTED TO BE INUNDATED.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

ADDITIONAL RAINFALL AMOUNTS OF ONE TO TWO INCHES ARE POSSIBLE IN THE
WARNED AREA.



LAT...LON 2977 9188 2982 9184 2982 9188 2981 9192
2982 9197 2980 9197 2979 9198 2977 9202
2977 9211 3006 9224 3022 9202 3017 9169
2976 9152



SWEENEY
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
I guess I will just wait to see what the NHC makes of the HH obs but to my eye they show a system that is very close to being open and very weak.
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1530. LargoFl
Quoting SFLWeatherman:
What is that south of cuba???
..watching it like a hawk, been there all week or more, its Not going away either
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Quoting SFLWeatherman:
What is that south of cuba???
Link


very weak area of low pressure
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What is that south of cuba???
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Quoting PcolaSurf182:



Looks like another soggy day here in Pensacola. What a change from last summer right?


Truly a monsoon summer in the Panhandle. So wet we have toadstools growing in our sandy soil...
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1526. LargoFl
gee yet another warning for new Orleans..must be pouring non stop there....patrap you ok there?.................BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
FLASH FLOOD WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEW ORLEANS LA
755 AM CDT SAT AUG 11 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN NEW ORLEANS HAS ISSUED A

* FLASH FLOOD WARNING FOR...
CENTRAL LIVINGSTON PARISH IN SOUTHEAST LOUISIANA...
THIS INCLUDES THE CITY OF DENHAM SPRINGS...

* UNTIL 1000 AM CDT

* AT 752 AM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE METEOROLOGISTS DETECTED
FLASH FLOODING FROM A THUNDERSTORM NEAR WALKER...OR 7 MILES EAST OF
DENHAM SPRINGS...MOVING NORTHEAST AT 5 MPH.

* OTHER LOCATIONS IN THE WARNING INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO
LIVINGSTON

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

ADDITIONAL RAINFALL AMOUNTS OF 2 TO 3 ARE POSSIBLE IN THE WARNED
AREA.

A FLASH FLOOD WARNING MEANS THAT FLOODING IS IMMINENT OR OCCURRING.
IF YOU ARE IN THE WARNING AREA MOVE TO HIGHER GROUND IMMEDIATELY.
RESIDENTS LIVING ALONG STREAMS AND CREEKS SHOULD TAKE IMMEDIATE
PRECAUTIONS TO PROTECT LIFE AND PROPERTY. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CROSS
SWIFTLY FLOWING WATERS OR WATERS OF UNKNOWN DEPTH BY FOOT OR BY
AUTOMOBILE.



LAT...LON 3053 9098 3054 9072 3036 9065 3040 9096



CAB
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting drg0dOwnCountry:


How far are we from Food Rationing? I guess we are not far from the revival of Victory Gardens.
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Quoting gordydunnot:
They may have to post the national guard to protect that corn or some watch dogs/ corn dogs.


How fast are we from Food Rationing? I guess we are not far from the revival of Victory Gardens.
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I wonder what the maximum annual erosion rates are in Panama?

They get hammered by every nearly wave of convection coming through the ITCZ, and what is going through there now was massive "greens" on the Funktop, especially about 2 hours ago.

All that water has to go somewhere...
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Quoting RTSplayer:
Storm is being robbed by the blob.

The blob has stronger convection than the TD.


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1521. LemieT
Quoting barbadosjulie:


Morning, I'm here


I'm on as well. Another round of phantom weather it seems. Our action has been mediocre this year.
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1520. pottery
Quoting barbadosjulie:


Morning, I'm here

Prepare for some very heavy rain !
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1519. LargoFl
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
What is that south of cuba???
Link
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Hmm... in contrast to observations, ADT is 3.3 for TD 7.
----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 11 AUG 2012 Time : 121500 UTC
Lat : 14:05:10 N Lon : 57:15:32 W


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
3.4 / 999.5mb/ 53.0kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
3.3 3.3 3.3

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1516. LargoFl
Quoting Msdrown:


Yes all day. Last night at 11pm the local mets said the front dipping down from the N the last two days was extending down into the GOM a ways but it would be gone by the afternoon. This morning they changed that to Sunday for it to back off. So that means yes all day/night and into Sunday.

On another note I noticed that blob off of Miami is moving NE and the one S of Cuba is not going anywhere. I guess that is a good sign for the GOM.
yes for the weekend maybe thru tuesday we are ok in the gulf..for now gee
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Storm is being robbed by the blob.

The blob has stronger convection than the TD.
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Quoting rmdjoe1954:
Scats are a very reliable analytical tool. While I agree that HH obs are the best you should not simply dismiss the Oscat pass from last night because it does not support your own conclusions.


Troll. Go away. Be a man and try to be yourself.
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1513. LargoFl
Quoting Stormbugn:
I am am a long-time lurker on here and this is my first post. I wanted to thank you all for the time and effort you put into this blog. I work for FEMA as a Disaster Reservist. When I hear something is coming down the pipe, my first stop is Wunderground and Dr. Master's blog. I spend so much time on here, I feel like I know you all personally!

Again...THANK YOU ALL!!!!!!
,,TY and welcome
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
1512. LargoFl
Quoting Abacosurf:
I have seen several ULL transition down to the surface....just doesn't seem like this one wants to. Yet
.its sure something to watch, it sure doesnt want to go away huh
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting wunderkidcayman:
d are stronger that 17MPH strongest winds that was found so far was around I think it was 38kt still waiting for HH to fly in the NE quad


Ok. 38kts is about 43mph, so that would make it a TS...if it's good data.



I wonder what's the deal with that big blob forming a good ways to the SW of the storm?
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1510. ryang
Quoting barbadosjulie:


Morning, I'm here


Morning...looking like some squally weather here today.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I am am a long-time lurker on here and this is my first post. I wanted to thank you all for the time and effort you put into this blog. I work for FEMA as a Disaster Reservist. When I hear something is coming down the pipe, my first stop is Wunderground and Dr. Master's blog. I spend so much time on here, I feel like I know you all personally!

Again...THANK YOU ALL!!!!!!
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1508. Msdrown
Quoting LargoFl:
yes it seems like its been raining up there for a month or more,going to be there all day i guess once again, some flash flood warnings around new orleans again


Yes all day. Last night at 11pm the local mets said the front dipping down from the N the last two days was extending down into the GOM a ways but it would be gone by the afternoon. This morning they changed that to Sunday for it to back off. So that means yes all day/night and into Sunday.

On another note I noticed that blob off of Miami is moving NE and the one S of Cuba is not going anywhere. I guess that is a good sign for the GOM.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Found a few SSW winds near the original fix point but boy is the wind field ever small and weak. Not sure if the NHC will hold this at TD status for long.

Pressure at "center" 1012 mbs
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Administration,
There is a troll masquerading under rmdjoe1954.
Please delete this troll.
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Quoting pottery:

Thanks.

Good Barbados weather site--

brohavwx.com

check it out.


I hope someday to get there, have a great great uncle in St. Thomas. By the time I might ever get there he will be long gone. :(
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Quoting RTSplayer:
From what Jeff Morrow just said, TD7 should probably be downgraded back to a mere "Invest".

It seems the strongest winds the HH found was like 17mph...at least at the time he did the Tropical Update...

That's pathetic. That's not even as strong as the trade winds and steering currents.
d are stronger that 17MPH strongest winds that was found so far was around I think it was 38kt still waiting for HH to fly in the NE quad
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting rmdjoe1954:
NHC dissipates TD7 in a few days and our yellow blog is down to 20%.

And the long range GFS isn't showing anything in the way of development. So what am I supposed to do with the rest of my summer now!!!!!!

Link


Hopefully your summer is not dependent on the Tropics.
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Quoting ryang:
Anyone else from Barbados on here right now?


Morning, I'm here
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Quoting LargoFl:
...................are they Very sure..that blob below Cuba is NOT going to develop? it has been there for over a week now and sure doesnt look like its weakening any, and its sending lots of rain northward towards florida and the east coast huh
I have seen several ULL transition down to the surface....just doesn't seem like this one wants to. Yet
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1500. LargoFl
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
The HH is probably bemused by the SE winds to the SW of the "center" so they are heading back for another pass where they found the West winds to begin with.

I wonder of this system is starting to open up ?
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well I geuss the HHfindings so far kinda throws this "AT 800 AM AST...1200 UTC...THE CENTER OF TROPICAL DEPRESSION SEVEN
WAS ESTIMATED NEAR LATITUDE 14.0 NORTH...LONGITUDE 57.5 WEST.
HOWEVER...PRELIMINARY DATA FROM THE HURRICANE HUNTER AIRCRAFT
INDICATE THAT THE DEPRESSION COULD BE DEGENERATING INTO A TROPICAL
WAVE
." out the window

sorry NHC no Tropcal wave for you
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
From what Jeff Morrow just said, TD7 should probably be downgraded back to a mere "Invest".

It seems the strongest winds the HH found was like 17mph...at least at the time he did the Tropical Update...

That's pathetic. That's not even as strong as the trade winds and steering currents.
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1496. pottery
Quoting aislinnpaps:
Pottery,
Horrible! My thoughts and prayers to everyone affected.

Thanks.

Good Barbados weather site--

brohavwx.com

check it out.
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1495. msphar
Pottery - GoodLuck with the recovery. I'm standing watch at the other end of the chain. Hoping for peace and quiet.
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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