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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Climate of 1998
January - August in Perspective

National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, NC
September 10, 1998

Jan-Aug 1998 Global Temperature Anomalies

Top of Page Overview

    SUMMER WRAPS UP WARM, WITH DROUGHT AND FLOODS

    It has been a summer of drought in the Southeast, floods in the Midwest and the South, and continued global warmth.

    Nationally, summer (June - August) 1998 was the 44th driest and the ninth warmest on record since detailed records began in 1895, according to the preliminary data from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.

    The 1961-1990 normal summer precipitation is 8.24 inches. The 1998 national averaged value for summer precipitation was 8.19 inches. The wettest summer on record occurred in 1928 with a national average precipitation of 10.24 inches. The driest summer on record, with a national average precipitation of 5.98 inches, occurred in 1930.

    Based upon preliminary data, Summer 1998 was the fifth driest on record for Maryland, eighth driest for Delaware, Georgia, and South Carolina, ninth driest for Florida, and the tenth driest such three-month period on record for New Jersey.

    To the opposite extreme, summer 1998 was the second wettest on record for Wyoming, the third wettest for Vermont, and the seventh wettest for Colorado, Iowa, and Missouri.

    Regionally, Summer 1998 was the 11th wettest since 1895 for the West-North Central region and the ninth driest for the Southeast region.

    The 1961-1990 normal summer temperature is 71.7 degrees F. The 1998 national averaged summer temperature was 72.9 degrees F. The warmest summer on record, with a national average temperature of 74.3 degrees F, occurred in 1936. The coolest summer on record occurred in 1915 with a national average temperature of 69.5 degrees F.

    Regionally, summer 1998 was the fourth warmest since 1895 for the South region and the sixth warmest for the Southeast region. Summer 1998 was the warmest on record for Florida and Louisiana, the third warmest for Texas, fourth warmest for Washington, and the fifth warmest on record for Oklahoma.

    Globally, preliminary surface data indicate that August 1998 and the year to date remain at record warm levels with respect to 1880-1997 long term means. Preliminary August land station temperatures were 2.1 degrees F above the mean, while sea surface temperature readings (including ship, buoy, and satellite measurements) were nearly 1 deg. F above the mean, for a combined index value of 1.3 F above the average. For the year to date (January thru August) surface temperatures, also at record warm levels, land stations were 2 deg. F above the mean, sea surface temperatures were 1 deg F above the mean, and the global index stands at 1.3 deg. F on the warm side.

    The lingering global surface warmth, likely related to the recent record El Niño, has persisted, even as Central Equatorial Pacific sea surface temperatures cool down to La Niña levels (however, ocean temperatures off the NW So. American Coast remain quite warm). NOAA will continue to monitor global climate and keep the public advised monthly of ongoing trends.

Top of Page Global Temperature Anomalies

August Global Surface Mean Temperature Anomalies
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August Global Surface (Land and Ocean) Mean Temperature Anomalies

    Near-surface global land and ocean temperatures for the month of August 1998 established an all-time record high. Temperatures averaged more than 1.3 deg F above the 1880-1997 long-term mean. The high temperatures were particularly evident over the land as temperatures averaged over two degrees above the long-term mean, exceeding the old record by several tenths of a degree F.

August Global Surface Mean Temperature Anomalies
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Aug 1998 Global Temperature Anomalies
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SSM/I Derived August 1998 Global Temperature Anomalies

    August of 1998 continued the unprecedented string of record breaking temperatures. Each month this year has set new all-time record global near-surface temperatures.

    The global land and ocean surface temperatures continue to remain at record high levels through the first half of 1998. Temperatures continue to remain far above both last year's record high levels and all other years.

Jan-Aug Global Surface Mean Temperature Anomalies

Jan-Aug Global Surface Mean Temperature Anomalies


    As data are being received, scientists at The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center are automatically updating The Global Historical Climatology Network data base to maintain a global climate perspective in near real-time.

Top of Page US Temperature and Precipitation Records and Anomalies

Aug 1998 US Temperature Anomalies
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SSM/I Derived August 1998 US Temperature Anomalies

Drought and extreme heat affected an expanding area of the south this summer, from Texas and Oklahoma eastward to the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida. In agricultural losses (crops, cattle, etc), Texas now estimates over $1.7 billion in losses, Oklahoma about $2.0 billion, Florida about $175 million, Georgia over $400 million, while other states are still counting the damages. Overall economic costs will probably be 2-3 times the agricultural losses. Some of the more notable records established this summer:

  • Driest and warmest April-July period on record for Texas, with mean temperature of 77.7 F (ties with 1925) and mean precipitation of 4.46 inches.

  • Warmest July and warmest month on record for Del Rio, Shreveport, Austin, and San Antonio.

  • Total number of days with maximum temperature 100 F or higher for San Antonio (36 days) and Del Rio (69 days).

  • Total number of days with minimum temperature 80 F or higher--Dallas-Fort Worth (38 days).
  • Driest May-July period for Brownsville with .30 inches of rain.
  • In contrast, Del Rio recorded its wettest day ever on August 23, with 17.03 inches of rain from Tropical Storm Charley.

In Florida, the early summer fires resulted in timber losses of approximately $300 million, over 300 homes being damaged or destroyed, and firefighting costs of over $100 million. Over 120,000 residents were forced to evacuate for a day or more, including all of Flagler County. In contrast, Blue Hill, MA recorded 17.32 inches of rain in June to set a record for the month.


January-August State Ranks
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January-August State Ranks

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Jun-Aug State Ranks
August State Ranks
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August State Ranks


Animated graphics show the drought and wet spell conditions as they progressed from January 1998 through August 1998.

    The Palmer Z Index shows drought or wet spell conditions for a given month. Red shading indicates the month was dry, while green shading indicates the month was wet, for the area. In this way, the Palmer Z Index is a short-term index.

    The Palmer Drought Index incorporates what happened during the indicated month with what happened during all previous months. Thus the Palmer Drought Index is a cumulative long-term index.

    The animated Z Index graphic shows how the Southeast U.S. started 1998 with several wet months, then conditions became very dry starting in April.

    The animated Palmer Drought Index graphic shows the cumulative effects of the very wet winter as green in the Southeast through April. The extreme dryness beginning in May and June takes a little longer to show up in the Palmer Drought Index.


    NOAA's National Climatic Data Center is the world's largest active archive of weather data. The preliminary temperature and precipitation rankings are available from the center by calling: 828-271-4800 or on the World Wide Web at: http:/www.ncdc.noaa.gov/ol/documentlibrary/cvb.html

    Historical precipitation and temperature ranking maps are also available on the Internet at: http://nic.fb4.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/regional_monitoring/usa.html.

    NOAA works closely with the academic and science communities on climate-related research projects to increase the understanding of El Niño and improve forecasting techniques. NOAA's Climate Prediction Center monitors, analyzes and predicts climate events ranging from weeks to seasons for the nation. NOAA also operates the network of data buoys and satellites that provide vital information about the ocean waters, and initiates research projects to improve future climate forecasts. The long lead climate outlooks are available on the Internet at: http://nic.fb4.noaa.gov.


NCDC / Climate Resources / Climate Research / Climate of 1998 / August / Search / Help

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