Analysis of U.S. Climate in August 2018

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This year, the contiguous United States lived through its 4th warmest summer on record, tying with the summer of 1934. During meteorological summer (June-August), the average temperature was73.5°F, which is 2.1°F above average. Above-average August temperatures were recorded on both East and West coast.

Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshireand Rhode Island had record warm August, largely due to record warm night temperatures. Additionally, six more states in the Northeast and four states in the Southwest had a top 10 warm August.

The U.S. Drought Monitor reported that 34.4 percent of the contiguous U.S. faced drought in August, up from 34.1 percent in July. During August, the drought worsened in parts of the Northwest, Northern Plains, central Great Lakes, mid-Mississippi Valley, and Southern Texas. By the end of August,58.3 percentof the West was experiencing moderate to exceptional drought.

On the other hand, most of the Northeast, Central to Southern Plains, South West, and the Deep South saw improvement in drought conditions.

In California, this August was particularly rough due to intensive drought – the state tied its 10th driest Auguston record. The August drought continued to feed fires in the worst wildfire season ever recorded,which peaked in July – the state’s hottest month on record.

Outside of the continent, the state of Hawaiialso suffered exceptional drought.The drought was most severe on the islands of Maui and Hawaii. Interestingly, although hurricane Lane brought massive rainfall to other parts of Hawaii, many drought-stricken areas missed out on the precipitation – the hurricane relieved the Hawaiian drought only slightly. Unfortunately, the strong winds brought on by Lane fanned a wildfire, resulting in the destruction of more than 20 homes on Maui.

However, despite the massive wildfires in the west, droughts, and high temperatures, August of 2018 had an above-average rainfall – the total August precipitation was 2.99 inches, 0.37 inches above average. It was the 20th wettest August in the last 124 years. Above-average rainfall was observed from the Great Plains to the East Coast, with the biggest precipitation in the sections of Midwest and Mid-Atlantic. The state of Pennsylvaniahad the wettest summer on record – 18 inches of precipitation, 6.56 inches above average.

Hurricane Lanehad struck the southwest of Hawaiian islands in the late August, bringing heavy rainfall, strong winds and flooding. East side of the Big Island suffered significant flooding, brought on by impressive 50 inches of rain.

Although not as dramatic as July, August of 2018 was another above-average month, with a significant number of exceptional weather events all over the U.S.

Resources

Assessing the U.S. Climate in August 2018. NOAA National Centres For Environmental Information. https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/news/national-climate-201808

Assessing the U.S. Climate in July 2018. NOAA National Centres For Environmental Information. https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/news/national-climate-201807

Drought – August 2018. NOAA. https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/drought/201808

Schirle, C. Drought and Climate for August 2018: Dry conditions spread in Pacific Northwest; drought improves in parts of Southern Plains and Arkansas. 2018. National Drought Mitigation Center, University of Nebraska. https://drought.unl.edu/Publications/MonthlySummary.aspx

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