National Climate Report - August 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:

Temperatures remained warm in the western half of the country for August, with warmth also extending into parts of the East. The West has been persistently warm for much of the summer, while the East has seen cooler than average temperatures, in general.

Precipitation remained above normal for much of the East in August, but dryness was present in the upper Midwest and northern Great Plains. The summer pattern has been persistently wet in the East and dry in the West, and dry especially the Northwest. For additional details, see the Monthly Highlights section.

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 had near normal activity for August after a relatively slow start to the season. Four tropical storms formed in August with two developing to reach hurricane strength. See the East Pacific Hurricane page for more details.

In the Atlantic Basin, August had near normal activity with two tropical storms and one hurricane. The Atlantic hurricane season was quite active early in 2003.See 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 equatorial 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:


  • August 2003 ranked as the 5th warmest August in the 1895 to present record. The preliminary nationally averaged temperature was 74.9°F (23.8°C), which was 2.1°F (1.2°C) above the long-term mean.
  • August 2003 was near average for precipitation nationally, ranking 37th wettest. The persistent west-east, dry-wet contrast for the nation over the summer was still present but more muted for August

    For tables of national, regional, statewide and selected city data from 1895-present, for August, summer or other periods, please go to the Climate At A Glance page

  • June-August temperature was near normal to only slightly above average and ranked as the 43rd warmest such period in the 1895 to present record. The preliminary nationally averaged temperature for June-August was 72.5°F (22.5°C) which was 0.4°F (0.2°C) above the long-term mean.
  • June-August 2003 was wetter than average, ranking 15th wettest in the last 109 years.

  • September 2002-August 2003 ranked as the 25th warmest such 12 months in the 1895 to present record. The preliminary nationally averaged temperature was 53.3°F (11.8°C) which was 0.5°F (0.3°C) above the long-term mean.
  • Precipitation was greater than average for September-August leading to a rank of 21st wettest for the last 12 months based on a record of 108 such periods.

    Regional and Statewide:

  • August 2003 ranked record warm for Nevada, Idaho and Wyoming, with 10 other states averaging much warmer than the long term mean.
  • Alaska was slightly warmer than average for August with an anomaly of 1.1°F (0.6°C) above the 1971-2000 mean, while summer was 1.4°F (0.8°C) above average.
  • August was second driest on record for Minnesota and Iowa while Wisconsin was also much drier than average. Three eastern states and California were much wetter than the long term mean.
  • For the Primary Corn and Soybean Belt, preliminary data indicate that precipitation was near average for August and slightly above average for the growing season thus far (March-August) in 2003. The growing season runs from March to September for corn and soybeans.
  • The summer period (June-August) was much colder than average for seven eastern states, while eight western states were much warmer than average for June-August 2003, including Nevada, which had a record warm summer. 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.
  • June-August 2003 was record dry for Washington, and three other states were much drier than average for the three months. Fourteen eastern states were much wetter than average and the Southeast region as a whole ranked second wettest.
  • The last 12 months were record wet for five states, as was the Southeast region as a whole. Dryness remained in many northern states.
    See NCDC's Monthly Extremes web-page for weather and climate records for the month of August.
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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 August 2003, published online September 2003, retrieved on January 21, 2018 from