National Climate Report - July 2003

Maps and Graphics:

Current Month Most Recent 3 Months Most Recent 6 Months
Most Recent 12 Months US Percent Area Very Wet/Dry/Warm/Cold

Monthly Drought Indices
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National Overview:

Despite some cooler than average temperatures in the East, the mean temperature for the contiguous U.S. was warmer than average in July 2003. Some western states were much warmer than average with Idaho having its warmest July on record according to preliminary data. For additional details, see the Monthly Highlights section.

Greater than average rainfall continued across parts of the East, especially in the Ohio Valley. Dryness extended across areas of the Midwest and High Plains.

For details and graphics on weather events across the U.S. and the globe go to NCDC's Global Hazards page.

The eastern North Pacific hurricane season has been near normal so far this year, with 6 tropical storms having formed as of the end of July. However, no hurricane has yet developed, which is below the climatological average of 3 by July 31.

In the Atlantic Basin, Tropical Storm Bill developed in the Gulf of Mexico and came ashore along the Louisiana coast on June 30, leading to extensive rainfall across the Southeast and mid Atlantic in early July. Hurricane Claudette also came ashore in Texas in mid month leading to 3 deaths. Hurricane Danny was a long-lived storm in the northern Atlantic through the latter half of July, however Danny never threatened land. As of July 31, the Atlantic has been more active than the climatology with 4 named storms and 2 hurricanes. See the East Pacific Hurricane page and the Atlantic Hurricane page for further details.

Indices used to determine the state of ENSO suggest that the Equatorial Pacific is in a neutral ENSO phase and Sea Surface Temperatures are now near normal across the eastern Pacific. To see the latest NOAA advisory and typical impacts of a La Nina or El Nino episode for the U.S., go to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.
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Monthly and Seasonal Highlights:


  • July 2003 ranked as the 12th warmest July in the 1895 to present record. The preliminary nationally averaged temperature was 75.7°F (24.3°C) which was 1.4°F (0.8°C) above the long-term mean.
  • July 2003 was near average for precipitation nationally, ranking 45th driest. However, this belies the stark contrast between extreme dryness in the West and excessive rainfall in the East.

  • May-July temperature was near average and ranked as the 52nd warmest such period in the 1895 to present record. The preliminary nationally averaged temperature for May-July was 68.3°F (20.2°C) which was 0.1°F (0.06°C) above the long-term mean.
  • May-July 2003 was wetter than average, ranking 17th wettest in the last 109 years.

  • August 2002-July 2003 ranked as the 29th warmest such 12 months in the 1895 to present record. The preliminary nationally averaged temperature was 53.2°F (11.8°C) which was 0.4°F (0.2°C) above the long-term mean.
  • Precipitation was greater than average for August-July leading to a rank of 24th wettest for the last 12 months based on a record of 108 such periods.

Regional and Statewide:

  • July 2003 ranked record warm for Idaho, with 9 other states averaging much warmer than the long term mean.
  • Alaska was warmer than average for July 2003 with an anomaly of 0.85°F (0.47°C) compared to a 1971-2000 average.
  • July was record dry for New Mexico while 4 other western states were much drier than average. Five eastern states were much wetter than the long term mean.
  • For the Primary Corn and Soybean Belt, preliminary data indicate that precipitation was near average for July and slightly above average for the growing season thus far (March-July) in 2003. The growing season runs from March to September for corn and soybean.
  • The 3-month period was much colder than average for six states, while 4 western states were much warmer than average for May-July 2003. Generally, the eastern half of the country was cooler than the long term mean for the period, with the western half of the U.S. remaining warm.
  • May-July 2003 was record wet for 4 eastern states, and 4 other states had their second wettest such three months. The Southeast as a whole ranked as the wettest such three months on record.
  • The last 12 months were record wet for Virginia and the Carolinas, as was the Southeast region as a whole. Warmth remained in many western states.

See NCDC's Monthly Extremes web-page for weather and climate records for the month of July.
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It should be emphasized that all of the temperature and precipitation ranks and values are based on preliminary data. The ranks will change when the final data are processed.

Citing This Report

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: National Climate Report for July 2003, published online August 2003, retrieved on January 19, 2018 from