Climate of 2008
July in Historical Perspective

National Climatic Data Center
15 August 2008

Contents of this Report:

Selected Global Significant Events for July 2008

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Major Highlights

NOAA: U.S. Temperature Above Normal in July,
Fifth Warmest July on Record for Globe

July 2008 was the 30th warmest July for the contiguous United States, based on records dating back to 1895, according to an analysis by NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. The average July temperature, 74.9°F, was 0.7 degrees above the 20th century mean, based on preliminary data.

The combined average global land and ocean surface temperature for July 2008 tied with 2001 and 2003 as the fifth warmest July since worldwide records began in 1880, according to an analysis by NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.

Also, the seven months from January to July 2008 ranked as the ninth warmest seven-month period for combined average global land and ocean surface temperature.

U.S. Temperature Highlights

July temperatures were generally higher than average across the West and Northeast and below average in the Midwest.

Five states (Conn., Mass., N.J., R.I. and Utah) were much warmer than average. Rhode Island had its sixth warmest July, and Massachusetts and Utah both had their eighth warmest July, based on statewide data going back to 1895. Six states (Ill., Ind., Ky., Mo., N.M. and W.Va.) were cooler than average.

Based on NOAA's Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index, contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand was approximately three percent above average in July.

U.S. Precipitation Highlights

An average of 2.90 inches of precipitation fell across the contiguous United States in July, which is near the 20th century average of 2.76 inches.

Seven states (Ill., Mass., Mo., N.H., N.Y., R.I. and Vt.) were much wetter than average, with Vermont having its third wettest July on record. Massachusetts and New Hampshire had their fifth wettest July.

Idaho and Louisiana were much drier than average, with Idaho having its sixth driest July on record and Louisiana its seventh driest July.

The lack of significant rainfall across the Southeast had little impact on drought conditions. At the end of July, 59 percent of the region was classified in moderate-to-exceptional drought, based on the U.S. Drought Monitor. For the contiguous U.S., about 28 percent of the nation was in moderate to exceptional drought.

Midwest U.S. Flooding

Heavy rains fell across parts of the Midwest again in July, continuing a trend that began last October. An area from central Iowa through northeastern Missouri and western Illinois accumulated more than twice the normal July rainfall. At Long Branch Reservoir in north central Missouri, 18.64 inches fell - more than three times the normal amount. The heavy rains triggered widespread flash flooding in Missouri and Iowa. Mark Twain Lake in Missouri reached a record of 640.36 feet above mean sea level on July 30. Illinois and Missouri had their wettest January to July on record.

U.S. Wildfires

Continued dry conditions in July across northern and central California hindered efforts to contain a dozen large wildfires. Large fires also developed last month in other states, including Texas, Oklahoma, and North Carolina. From January 1st to July 31st, 53,796 wildfires have burned more than 3.5 million acres of the United States, according to statistics from the National Interagency Fire Center. This activity is close to the 1999-2008 average and well below the year-to-date extent of the past two years.

Other U.S. Events

A rare EF-2 tornado struck in New Hampshire on July 24 and claimed one life and injured several others.

Hurricane Bertha formed in the tropical Atlantic on July 3, and while not making landfall, was the longest-lived, pre-August Atlantic tropical cyclone on record. It became extratropical on July 20. The same day, Hurricane Dolly developed in the Caribbean Sea and made landfall as a Category 2 hurricane at South Padre Island, Texas on July 22. Dolly is the most intense tropical cyclone to make U.S. landfall since Hurricane Wilma in 2005.

Heavy rain from Tropical Storm Dolly brought relief from drought across parts of the Southwest and in southern Texas. However, up to eight inches of rain fell within 36 hours over parts of southern New Mexico, resulting in many flash floods, which claimed one life, and brought total property damage estimates of around $1.5 billion.

Global Temperatures

The July 2008 combined global land and ocean surface temperature was 0.88 degree F (0.49 degree C) above the 20th century mean of 60.4 degrees F (15.8 degrees C). For the January - July period, the combined global land and ocean surface temperature was 0.81 degree F (0.45 degree C) above the 20th century mean of 56.9 degrees F (13.8 degrees C).

Separately, the global land surface temperature for July was 1.22 degrees F (0.68 degree C) above the 20th century mean of 57.8 degrees F (14.3 degrees C). For January - July, the global land surface temperature was 1.35 degrees F (0.75 degree C) above the 20th century mean of 46.8 degrees F (8.3 degrees C).

The July global ocean surface temperature was 0.76 degree F (0.42 degree C) above the 20th century mean of 61.5 degrees F (16.4 degrees C). The January - July global ocean surface temperature was 0.61 degrees F (0.34 degrees C) above the 20th century mean of 61.0 degrees F (16.1 degrees C).

Global Highlights

El Niño-Southern Oscillation conditions continued neutral through July in the tropical Pacific Ocean, ending the La Niña event that began in mid-2007.

Northern Hemisphere sea ice extent ranked fourth lowest on record for July. Since 1979, Northern Hemisphere sea ice extent in July has decreased by 6.1 percent per decade. In contrast, the Southern Hemisphere sea ice extent was slightly above the 1979-2000 average and ranked tenth largest for July out of the last 30 years.

Rains from Hurricane Dolly caused landslides in Guatemala that killed 21 people. The storm, after making landfall at South Padre Island, Texas on July 23, brought torrential rain and flooding to both the Mexican and U.S. sides of the Rio Grande Valley. Nearly 250,000 people in Mexico were left without safe drinking water.

Typhoon Kalmaegi/Helen (July 13-20) passed over the Philippines, Taiwan, and eastern China, killing at least 18 and causing about $10 million (U.S.) in damage. Some mountainous locations in Taiwan reported more than 1100 mm (43 inches) of rain during the storm. A few days later (July 23-30), Typhoon Fung-wong passed over many of the same areas, dumping 838 mm (32.9 inches) of rain on Hualien on Taiwan's east coast. Extensive damage exceeding $6 million (U.S.) and six fatalities were reported.

Heavy monsoon rains pelted northern India and Bangladesh between July 5-14, resulting in floods and landslides that claimed 20 lives. Eleven people died in monsoon flooding and landslides in Nepal in early July.

By the end of July, drought conditions improved slightly across China's northern Xinjiang and Gansu provinces, and in parts of Ningxia and Inner Mongolia provinces, where conditions improved from severe to moderate drought.

Other Key Global Events

Two powerful storms struck New Zealand between July 26 - 30, triggering flash flooding and widespread damage caused by winds equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane. On July 5, the Norwegian capital of Oslo was hammered with heavy rain and flash flooding and 97 km/h (60 mph) wind gusts.

Torrential downpours July 23-26 in South Korea inundated more than 3,000 acres of farmland, damaged more than 600 homes and killed seven. In western Japan, more than 100 mm (four inches) of rain fell in less than two hours, killing four and flooding hundreds of homes. Severe storms over Ukraine and Romania July 25-29 caused the Dniester and Prut rivers to top their banks, flooding nearly 50,000 homes and killing 34 people.

Report Index

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to the top Global Analysis

to the top Global Hazards and Significant Events

to the top National and Regional Overview

to the top United States Drought

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