Climate of 2008
August in Historical Perspective

National Climatic Data Center
16 September 2008

Contents of this Report:

Selected Global Significant Events for August 2008

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Major Highlights

NOAA: U.S. Has 39th Warmest August, 22nd Warmest Summer on Record
Global Summer Temperature Was Ninth Warmest, Tenth Warmest August Since Records Began

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.

The average summer temperature, for the contiguous United States, 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.

The combined global average land and ocean surface temperature for summer 2008 was the ninth warmest since records began in 1880, and this August was the tenth warmest.

U.S. Temperature Highlights

California had its ninth warmest summer, while New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island had their 8th 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-hr 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. 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 4th 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.

Summer (June - August) Global Highlights

The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for summer 2008 was 0.85 degrees F (0.47 degrees C) above the 20th century mean of 60.1 degrees F (15.6 degrees C).

Separately, the global land surface temperature for the summer was 1.12 degrees F (0.62 degrees C) above the 20th century mean of 56.9 degrees F (13.8 degrees C).

The global ocean surface temperature for summer ranked ninth warmest on record and was 0.74 degrees F (0.41 degrees C) above the 20th century mean of 61.5 degrees F (16.4 degrees C).

August Global Highlights

The August 2008 combined global land and ocean surface temperature was 0.79 degrees F (0.44 degrees C) above the 20th century mean of 60.1 degrees F (15.6 degrees C) and tied with 1995 for the tenth warmest August on record.

The global land surface temperature for August was 0.88 degrees F (0.49 degrees C) above the 20th century mean of 56.9 degrees F (13.8 degrees C).

The global ocean surface temperature for August was 0.77 degrees F (0.43 degrees C) above the 20th century mean of 61.4 degrees F (16.4 degrees C), which tied for seventh warmest August with 2001.

Other Global Highlights

El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) neutral conditions continued in August, and are expected to last through the end of 2008, according to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

Arctic sea ice extent at the end of August was at its second lowest extent on record according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Sea ice declined by a record rate in August, decreasing by 950,000 square miles (2.47 million square kilometers) between Aug. 1 and Sept. 3. The current extent is 800,000 square miles (2.08 million square kilometers) below the 1979-2000 average.

Tropical Storm Fay struck the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica, and the Cayman Islands between August 15 - 17, claiming 23 lives across the Caribbean. Hurricane Gustav affected the same countries August 24 - 31, claiming an estimated 95 lives in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica. Tropical Storm Kammuri struck southern China on August 6, bringing torrential rains to Hong Kong. Rain from Kammuri caused 120 deaths in northern Vietnam. On Aug. 20, Typhoon Nuri made landfall in the Philippines and killed seven people.

In southern India, heavy monsoon rains killed 99 people, while in northern India flash flooding claimed 74 lives and left about 50,000 people homeless. Varanasi, India received 11.5 inches (292.1 mm) of rain in just 24 hours. Torrential downpours claimed 27 lives in northwestern Pakistan during the first week of August. In Laos, heavy monsoon rains raised the Mekong River to its highest recorded level of 44.88 feet (13.68 m). Also in August, extensive flooding affected China, Japan, Mexico, and Great Britain.

On Aug. 17, Eyre in Western Australia registered a low temperature of -7.2 degrees C (19 degrees F), setting the record for the all-time lowest temperature for that Australian state, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

Severe storms over northern France on Aug. 4 spawned a tornado that killed three people in the town of Hautmont. Another tornado hit Mykanów, Poland, on Aug. 15, killing three and injuring 37.

Moderate-to-severe drought impacted northern parts of China during August, according to the Beijing Climate Center. Below-average August rainfall over parts of eastern and southern Australia worsened drought conditions in those areas. Parts of southwest Australia experienced their lowest August rainfall since records began there in 1900.

Report Index

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