Climate of 2008
September in Historical Perspective

National Climatic Data Center
15 October 2008

Contents of this Report:

Selected Global Significant Events for September 2008

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Major Highlights

NOAA: Above Average Precipitation in U.S. for September;
South Much Cooler than Average, West Much Drier
Ninth Warmest September for Global Temperatures

This September was the 49th warmest and 38th wettest on record for the contiguous United States, according to an analysis by NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., based on records dating back to 1895.

The average September temperature of 65.8 degrees F is 0.4 degree F above the 20th century average, based on preliminary data. Precipitation across the contiguous United States in September averaged 2.68 inches, which is 0.20 inches above the 1901-2000 average.

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

U.S. Temperature Highlights

California had its 10th warmest September, while Texas had its 10th coolest September on record.

The southern United States experienced its 11th coolest September on record, with an average temperature of 71.7 degrees F, 2.6 degrees below the 20th century mean.

The western United States had its second warmest July-September period on record. California had its fourth warmest and Nevada its fifth warmest July-September stretch on record.

Based on NOAA's Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index, the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand was 1.7 percent below average in September.

U.S. Precipitation Highlights

The United States measured below average precipitation in areas west of the Rockies, and from Florida to Kentucky. However, the remnants of hurricanes Gustav, Hanna and Ike brought above average precipitation from Louisiana to Michigan and throughout the Northeast.

California had its driest September on record, with an average of just 0.01 inch of precipitation — 0.45 inch below the 20th century average. Kentucky, Florida, Georgia, Nevada and Tennessee had one of their driest Septembers on record.

Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island experienced one of their 10 wettest Septembers on record.

The remnants of hurricanes Gustav and Ike drenched areas from Missouri through Illinois and into southern Michigan with up to three times the normal September rainfall. Chicago's O'Hare International Airport set its all-time calendar day record rainfall of 6.64 inches on September 13, while Portage, Indiana picked up 11.46 inches of rain from September 12-14.

Drought conditions across the United States showed little change during September. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, only slight improvements were seen in the mid-Atlantic region, parts of Texas and the northern tier of states, while minor worsening occurred in parts of the southeast, Tennessee and Ohio valleys, and Wisconsin. At the end of September, 24 percent of the contiguous United States was in moderate-to-exceptional drought. Meanwhile, extreme-to-exceptional drought persisted in the western Carolinas, western North Dakota, southern Texas, northern California and Hawai'i.

Other U.S. Highlights

Gustav, Hanna, and Ike made landfall in the United States in September. Gustav struck as a Category 2 storm near Cocodrie, L.A. on September 1. Hanna came ashore near Myrtle Beach, S.C. as a tropical storm on September 6 and moved northeast along the Atlantic coast. Hurricane Ike made landfall at Galveston, Texas on September 13 as a Category 2 storm.

Wildfire activity was well below average across the United States in September. Between August 29 and September 29, approximately 155,040 acres were scorched, which is the second lowest September total this decade and is nearly a half million acres below the 1999-2008 average. In September, 3,534 new wildfires were reported, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. This is the fewest number of fires in September during the past decade, and 2,820 fewer fires than the 1999-2008 average for the month.

Global Temperature Highlights

The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for September was 59.79 F — this is 0.79 degree F above the 20th century mean of 59.0 degrees F.

Separately, the global land surface temperature was 54.50 F — this is 0.90 degree F above the 20th century mean of 53.6 degrees F, tying September 2004 as 11th warmest on record.

The global ocean surface temperature of 61.86 F tied September 2001 as seventh warmest on record and was 0.76 degree F above the 20th century mean of 61.1 degrees F.

Other Global Highlights

Arctic sea ice coverage during September was at its second lowest extent since satellite records began in 1979, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Average ice extent during September was 1.80 million square miles, which is 34 percent below the 1979-2000 average and is part of an 11.7 percent decline in extent per decade over the past 30 years. The record lowest extent, set in 2007 was 1.65 million square miles.

In early September, Hurricane Gustav impacted the Caribbean. Flooding associated with Hurricane Hanna claimed more than 500 lives in Haiti. In the middle of the month, Hurricane Ike claimed about 145 lives, many in Haiti. Near the end of September, Hurricane Kyle brought torrential rain and flooding to Puerto Rico and Hispaniola before heading north. It made landfall in Nova Scotia, Canada as a Category 1 hurricane.

In the Pacific, Typhoon Sinlaku brought flooding to the Philippines before striking Taiwan and Japan. Parts of Taiwan received more than 40 inches of rain. Then, Typhoon Hagupit hit the Philippines and Taiwan before making landfall in southeastern China with winds of 121 mph. Other typhoons included Super Typhoon Jangmi, which made landfall in Taiwan, with 130 mph winds. Jangmi was the most intense tropical cyclone and first Category 5 storm in any basin during 2008.

Heavy rain across southern Chile spawned flooding and mudslides that claimed four lives and damaged more than 10,000 homes. Severe storms in the United Kingdom brought widespread flooding that forced the evacuation of thousands of residents and claimed six lives. Heavy downpours across northern Iraq and Iran destroyed several hydroelectric facilities and claimed 16 lives. And more than 200 fatalities were associated with flooding from monsoonal rains across Malaysia, Thailand, and India.

With just 0.47 inch of rain, Melbourne, Australia had its driest September since records began in 1855, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. The states of South Australia and Victoria had their eighth driest September on record.

Fast-moving wild fires raged across parts of southern Africa during the first week in September. The fires claimed 89 lives in Mozambique, Swaziland, and South Africa, and killed hundreds of livestock.

Report Index

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