NOAA: Above Average Temperatures in U.S. for August, Summer;
Midwest Much Drier than Average in August, South Much Wetter
This June-August 2008 summer season was the 22nd warmest on record for the contiguous United States, according to an analysis by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. Also, last month ended as the 39th warmest August for the contiguous United States, based on records dating back to 1895.
[Update by John Goetz: The title has been corrected to indicate that August was the 39th warmest and not the 22nd warmest on record. Thanks to several commenters for pointing this out.]
The average summer temperature of 72.7 degrees F is 0.8 degree F above the 20th century average, based on preliminary data. The average August temperature was 73.2 degrees F, which is 0.4 degree above average.
U.S. Temperature Highlights
- California had its ninth warmest summer, while New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island had their eighth warmest summers.
- The western United States experienced its fourth warmest August on record, with an average temperature of 75.3 degrees F, 2.9 degrees above the 20th century mean.
- While temperatures in most western states were above normal in August, temperatures across much of the eastern half of the U.S. were below normal.
- Cooler temperatures in the east and warmer temperatures in the western U.S. contributed to a near average national residential energy consumption for August and the summer season. Based on NOAA’s Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index, temperature-related energy demand was just 3.5 percent below average in August, and 4.2 percent above average for the summer.
U.S. Precipitation Highlights
- For June through August, precipitation across the contiguous United States averaged 9.05 inches, 0.8 inch above the 1901-2000 average and ranks as the 15th wettest summer since 1895.
- An average of 3.11 inches fell across the contiguous U.S. in August, 0.51 inch above average. This was the ninth wettest August on record for the nation.
- Eight states (Colorado, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida) were much wetter than average for August. Mississippi had its all-time wettest August, and Florida and Alabama their second wettest August on record.
- Seven states (Delaware, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin) were much drier than average. Delaware had its driest August on record, Kentucky had its third driest August and Wisconsin ranked sixth driest.
- Drought conditions in the southeast United States improved slightly in August, thanks to heavy rains from Tropical Storm Fay. However, the western Carolinas remained in exceptional drought and severe-to-extreme drought affected eastern Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, western North Dakota, Texas, and several of the Hawaiian Islands, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Moderate-to- severe drought also covered nearly all of California and much of Nevada. At the end of August, 24 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in moderate to extreme drought, a decrease of four percent from July.
- Fay also brought extensive flooding to Florida, where Jacksonville and Tallahassee each recorded 16.5 inches of rain, making this the wettest August on record for these cities. Thomasville, Ga., totaled 27.5 inches in August, and Fort Pierce, Fla., and Orlando broke their all-time 24-hour precipitation records with 8.84 and 8.23 inches, respectively. August 20-22 saw 18.48 inches of rain fall in Melbourne, Fla., a three-day record.
- Four named Atlantic tropical cyclones – Tropical Storm Edouard, Tropical Storm Fay Hurricane Gustav and Hurricane Hanna – developed in August. Edouard made landfall in Port Arthur, Texas on Aug. 5. Fay made an initial landfall in Key West, Fla., on Aug. 18. Gustav struck Grand Isle, La., on Sept. 1. August usually sees an average of three Atlantic/Caribbean tropical cyclones and on average one makes landfall in the U.S. every 2.3 years.
- Severe weather in the Chicago area on August 4 left nearly a half million residents without power, spawned at least three tornadoes and prompted travelers at O’Hare International Airport to be evacuated to lower levels, and a sell-out crowd at Wrigley Field to seek shelter in interior concourses. Nearly 350 flights were cancelled at O’Hare.
- Wildfires scorched parts of 12 states in August, primarily in the northwestern United States. From January 1 – August 29, 64,034 wildfires have burned more than 4.5 million acres of the United States, according to statistics from the National Interagency Fire Center. While the number of fires was above the 1999-2008 average, the acreage burnt was approximately one million acres less than average for the year-to-date.
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