National Climate Report - July 2008

Maps and Graphics:

July Most Recent 3 Months Most Recent 6 Months
Most Recent 12 Months Year-to-Date US Percent Area Very Wet/Dry/Warm/Cold
Annual Summary for 2007

PLEASE NOTE: All temperature and precipitation ranks and values are based on preliminary data.  The ranks will change when the final data are processed, but will not be replaced on these pages.  As final data become available, the most up-to-date statistics and graphics will be available on the Climate Monitoring Products page and the U.S. Climate at a Glance Web site.

For graphics covering periods other than those mentioned above or for tables of national, regional, and statewide data from 1895—present, for July, last 3 months or other periods, please go to the Climate at a Glance page.

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National Overview:

Temperature Highlights
  • For the contiguous United States, the average temperature for July was 74.9°F (23.9°C), which was 0.7°F (0.4°C) above the 20th century mean and ranked as the 30th warmest July on record, based on preliminary data.
  • On the Regional level, much of the U.S. experienced near normal temperatures during July. The Central region had below average temperatures and the Northeast, West, and Southwest regions experienced above average temperatures.
  • During July, five states had much above normal temperatures, 11 had above normal temperatures, and 6 states had temperatures below normal. Rhode Island ranked sixth warmest and Massachusetts and Utah ranked eighth warmest, based on statewide data going back to 1895.
  • The near average temperatures across much of the U.S. helped keep the Nation's overall temperature-related residential energy demand rather moderate for July. Based on NOAA's Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index (REDTI - an index developed at NOAA to relate energy usage to climate), contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand was approximately 3.0 percent above average in July, a rank of 41st highest in the 114-year record.
Precipitation Highlights
  • This was the 40th wettest July in the 1895—2008 record. An average of 2.9 inches (74 mm) fell across the contiguous U.S. this month, which is 0.1 inch (4 mm) above average.
  • July was much wetter than average for the Northeast. The Northwest experienced the 15th driest July on record.
  • Seven states received much above normal precipitation during July while 11 had above normal precipitation, 8 states received below normal precipitation, and only Idaho and Louisiana received much below normal precipitation. Vermont had the third wettest July on record, while Massachusetts and New Hampshire ranked fifth wettest for July.
  • Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Ohio each experienced the wettest February—July on record. Missouri's average of 37.5 inches (952 mm) is 15.2 inches (385 mm) above average.
  • The lack of significant widespread rainfall across the Southeast resulted in little change in drought conditions, with about 59% of the region classified in moderate-to-exceptional drought at the end of July, based on the U.S. Drought Monitor. For the contiguous U.S., about 28% of the nation was in moderate to exceptional drought.
Other Items of Note
  • A rare tornado near Deerfield, New Hampshire on July 24 is blamed for the death of one woman in a house which collapsed under the strain of the violent winds. Although the state receives two tornadoes per year on average, this is the first reported tornado fatality in New Hampshire since 1946.
  • 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, and 18.6 inches (473 mm) fell at Long Branch Reservoir, Missouri—more than three times the normal amount. These heavy rains resulted in widespread flash flooding in Missouri and Iowa. Mark Twain Lake in Missouri reached a record level of 640.4 feet (195.2 m) on July 30. At the end of July, 27% of the contiguous U.S. was classified in moderate-to-extreme wet spell conditions.
  • On July 3rd, Hurricane Bertha formed in the tropical Atlantic, and while not making landfall, was the longest-lived pre-August Atlantic tropical cyclone on record—becoming extratropical on July 20th. Hurricane Dolly developed in the Caribbean Sea on July 20th and made landfall as a Category 2 hurricane at South Padre Island, Texas on July 23rd. 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 8 inches of rain fell within 36 hours over parts of southern New Mexico, resulting in numerous flash floods that resulted in one fatality, damaged over 100 homes and washed out or damaged at least 8 bridges. Total property damage associated with Dolly is estimated around $1.5 billion.
  • Continued dry conditions in July across northern and central California hindered efforts to contain a dozen large wildfires. Large fires also developed during July in a number of western states, Texas, Oklahoma and North Carolina. From January 1st to July 31st 2008, 53,796 wildfires have burned more than 3.5 million acres of the U.S., 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. For additional information on wildfire conditions, please visit the NCDC Wildfire Monitoring page.
  • ENSO-neutral conditions were present in the equatorial Pacific Ocean by the end of July. Equatorial sea-surface temperatures returned to near-average values, while positive sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies continued in the eastern Pacific and a weak La Niña signal lingered in the western and central Pacific. Based upon recent trends and models, the CPC are forecasting a continuation of ENSO-neutral conditions through Boreal Fall. In the past, neutral conditions have resulted in wetter than normal conditions in New England, Florida, and the middle High Plains, and drier than normal conditions in the eastern Pacific Northwest. Historically, above average temperatures could be expected from the Great Lakes to the Northeast as well as across much of the southern U.S.; cooler than normal temperatures could be expected in the western Pacific Northwest and Alaska's southern coast over the next few months. For additional information on ENSO conditions, please visit the NCDC ENSO Monitoring page and the latest NOAA ENSO Advisory.
  • Alaska had its 16th coolest July since records began in 1918, with a temperature 1.0°F (0.6°C) below the 1971—2000 average.

  • Alaska had its 38th warmest May—July on record, with a temperature 0.3°F (0.2°C) below the 1971—2000 average.

  • Alaska had its 31st warmest January—July on record, with a temperature 0.2°F (0.1°C) below the 1971—2000 average.

For additional details about recent temperatures and precipitation across the U.S., see the Regional Highlights section below and visit the July Climate Summary page. For information on local temperature and precipitation records during the month of July, please visit NCDC's Extremes page. For details and graphics on weather events across the U.S. and the globe please visit NCDC's Global Hazards page.

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Regional Highlights:

These regional summaries were provided by the six Regional Climate Centers and reflect conditions in their respective regions. These six regions differ spatially from the nine climatic regions of the National Climatic Data Center.

Northeast | Midwest | Southeast | High Plains | Southern | Western

Northeast Region: (Information provided by the Northeast Regional Climate Center)
  • The Northeast's average July temperature of 70.7°F (21.5°C) was 0.9°F (0.5°C) above normal. This was 2.5°F (1.4°C) warmer than July 2007 and 1.3°F (0.7°C) cooler than July 2006. Of the twelve states in the region, only Maryland and West Virginia had averages below normal. Maryland temperatures were 0.4°F (0.2°C) below normal and West Virginia's were 1.0°F (0.6°C) below normal. The remaining states saw temperatures that ranged from 0.6°F (0.3°C) above normal in Vermont to 3.1°F (1.7°C) above normal in Rhode Island. It was the 6th warmest July since 1895 in Rhode Island.

  • Rainfall was abundant in the northern part of the region and near or below normal in the southern half of the region. On average, the Northeast saw 5.2 inches (132 mm) of rain, which was 127% of its normal July total. Of the three states with below normal rainfall, New Jersey and Delaware were the driest, each with 95% of the normal July rainfall. Maryland tallied 98% of normal rainfall. Elsewhere, precipitation totals ranged from 105% of normal in Pennsylvania to 182% of normal in Rhode Island. With a state average of 7.46 inches (190 mm), Vermont had its 3rd wettest July in 114 years. It was the 5th wettest July in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, the 7th wettest in Rhode Island and the 10th wettest in New York.

  • Severe weather on July 24th spawned a tornado in New Hampshire that killed one woman near Deerfield and injured several others. At its strongest, the tornado was categorized as an EF2 on the enhanced Fujita scale, which is characterized by winds from 111 to 135 mph (179 to 217 km/hr). Thousands of trees were downed and about a dozen homes destroyed along its 40-mile path from Deerfield to Freedom. New Hampshire averages about two tornadoes per year, and this is the first confirmed tornado in New Hampshire for 2008. More information can be found at the Gray/Portland NWS Forecast Office.
For more information, please go to the Northeast Regional Climate Center Home Page.

Midwest Region: (Information provided by the Midwest Regional Climate Center)
  • Temperatures across the Midwest were cooler than normal in most areas. The exceptions were in northeastern Wisconsin and northwestern Minnesota, where temperatures averaged 1°F (0.6°C) above normal, and in eastern and northeastern Ohio, where temperatures were 1-2°F (0.6-1.2°C) above normal. The coolest weather was found across the central Midwest, where clouds and thunderstorms were most prevalent. July temperatures in southeastern Iowa, western Illinois, and northeastern Missouri were 1.5-2.5°F (0.8-1.4°C) below normal. High temperatures equal to or greater than 90°F (32°C) were limited to southern and western Missouri, southern Illinois, and Kentucky. As of July 31, many locations in the central and northern Midwest had yet to record the first 90°F (32°C) temperature of the season.

  • Much of the central Midwest received normal to above normal rainfall during July, but an area from central Iowa through the northeastern half of Missouri into western Illinois accumulated more than twice the normal July rainfall. A small area in northern Missouri received more than three times the normal monthly rainfall. Clusters of thunderstorms repeatedly developed and moved over this area during the month. Rainfall amounts in northern Missouri approached 20 inches (508 mm) for the month. The Long Branch Reservoir cooperative station in Macon County, MO reported 18.6 inches (473 mm) during July, and there were many locations reporting more than 15 inches (381 mm) of rain during the month. Two observers with the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow network (CoCoRaHS) in northern Missouri reported more than 19 inches (483 mm) of rain in July. The CoCoRaHS observer in Kirksville received more the 19.8 inches (502 mm) of rain, noting that the rain gauge overflowed during a heavy event on July 25 and some of the rain that fell was not measured and accounted for in the reported monthly total. In Macon, Missouri, a CoCoRaHS observer measured 19.6 inches (499 mm) of rain during the month. Based on preliminary data, July 2008 was the 7th wettest on record for Missouri, 8th wettest for Illinois, and the 14th wettest on record for the nine-state Midwest region. In addition, total January-July precipitation for Missouri, Illinois, and for the Midwest as whole was the highest on record.

  • The heavy rain in Missouri and Iowa caused widespread flash flooding. Northern Missouri was particularly hard hit during July, with three major heavy rain storms occurring in the last week, the last being associated with the remnants of Hurricane Dolly. Mark Twain Lake in northeastern Missouri, a flood control reservoir and major recreational destination, reached a record level of 640.4 feet (195.2 m) on July 30, swelling it to twice its normal size. The previous record was 636.8 feet (194.1 m) in 1993. Large releases of water by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers through the Clarence Cannon Dam caused flooding downstream on the Salt River and its tributaries. On July 30, the Army Corps of Engineers closed the lake to all boating traffic and increased the water released through the dam to 50,000 cubic feet per second (cfs). Releases above 12,000 cfs are unprecedented. These events negatively affected area businesses during what is normally the height of the tourist season.
For details on the weather and climate events of the Midwest during July, see the weekly summaries in the MRCC Midwest Climate Watch page.

Southeast Region: (Information provided by the Southeast Regional Climate Center)
  • Average temperatures for July 2008 were close to normal over the vast majority of the Southeast. A cool spell during the first several days of July provided roughly half of the 105 new record lows for the month. Augusta, GA recorded a low of 54°F (12°C) during this cool spell, which broke the record for the lowest minimum temperature for the month of July. The highest temperatures during July occurred between the 19th and 24th as a Bermuda High extended inland across the U.S. In fact, nearly 90% of the 63 record highs for the region in July occurred during this period. The most notable extremes were registered on July 22 when Hamilton, AL recorded a high of 104°F (40°C) and Hawkinsville, GA and Camden SC each recorded a high of 103°F (39°C). Temperatures across Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands were relatively close to normal.

  • Thunderstorm activity during July produced a large amount of variability in the monthly precipitation totals on the local to regional scale. Many of the thunderstorms in the northern portions of the region were connected with the movement of several cold fronts across the region. Additionally, the outer rain bands of developing Tropical Storm Cristobal brushed the coastal Carolinas from July 17—20. Monthly precipitation totals exceeded 150% of normal across east-central North Carolina and much of eastern Florida. Localized regions of excessive precipitation were found across small portions of the remainder of the region. Palm Bay, FL and Blewett Lake, NC recorded 19.2 inches (487 mm) and 14.3 inches (362 mm) of precipitation, respectively, during July. In contrast, relatively dry conditions continued across much of the remainder of the Southeast. Monthly precipitation totals of less than 70% of normal were observed over broad portions of Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina as well as eastern and southern portions of Virginia. San Juan, PR recorded only 1.8 inches (44 mm) of precipitation during July, which was nearly 2.5 inches (64 mm) below normal. Several isolated stations received much below normal precipitation including Huddleston, VA with 0.5 inches (13 mm), Sand Mountain, AL, with 0.7 inches (17 mm) and Pisgah Forest, NC with 0.8 inches (21 mm).

  • Drought conditions across the region changed very little during the month. Exceptional drought conditions continued to plague northwestern South Carolina and portions of western North Carolina and extreme northeastern Georgia. A broad area of severe to extreme drought continued to affect much of eastern Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and southwestern Virginia. There were many reports of severe weather across the Southeast, especially high winds, which are quite common during the month of July. July 22 was most active day of the month with numerous reports of severe weather in North Carolina, southwestern Virginia, and portions of Georgia and Alabama.
For more information, please go to the Southeast Regional Climate Center Home Page.

High Plains Region: (Information provided by the High Plains Regional Climate Center)
  • After a below normal spring and early summer, temperatures throughout the region returned to near-normal values during July. Most areas had average temperatures within 2°F (1.1°C) of their July normals. The exceptions within the region occurred in northeastern Colorado, southwestern Wyoming, and the Nebraska panhandle, where average temperatures ranged between 3-5°F (1.7-2.8°C) above normal throughout the month. Areas of well below normal average temperatures occurred in eastern North Dakota and small portions of northeastern Kansas, where average temperatures ranged 2-3°F (1.1-1.7°C) below normal. Regional high and low temperature extremes both occurred in Colorado, where Greely experienced the highest temperature in the region of 110°F (43.3°C) on July 11th. The temperature set a record high for the day and ranked as the all-time 2nd highest July temperature at the station. On the other end of the spectrum, Fraser, CO had the lowest minimum temperature for the High Plains Region at 30°F (-1.1°C) on July 9th. This temperature ranked as the 3rd lowest minimum on record for the 9th and the 13th lowest minimum for the month of July for Fraser, CO.

  • The intermittent and convective nature of most July precipitation across the High Plains Region resulted in scattered areas of above average precipitation and widespread areas of well below average precipitation. Above average locations included the Nebraska panhandle, portions of eastern Wyoming, north-central South Dakota, eastern North Dakota, portions of southeastern Nebraska, and north-central Kansas. Those areas received between 150%-200% of their normal precipitation amounts for the month of July. The remainder of the High Plains Region experienced predominantly below average precipitation (approx 60%) in July, with the least amounts in southwestern Wyoming and the majority of Colorado (less than 50%). Roscoe, SD received a total of 6.0 in (152 mm) throughout the month, resulting in 214% of the average July precipitation. On the other end of both the spectrum and region were Boulder and Northglen, Colorado. Boulder received only 0.1 in (2 mm) during the month, which is only 5% of the monthly average. Even worse was Northglen, where no measurable precipitation fell during July, which is 1.7 inches (43 mm) below average.

  • The majority of the spring and summer leading up to July have been well below average in temperature and above average in precipitation. The above average precipitation has left many low-lying crop fields unplanted or in very poor shape. Areas around the Valley, Nebraska NWS office have gone unplanted due to rain events occurring on an abnormally regular basis throughout the spring and early summer months. Additionally, areas of Iowa that were devastated by floods from regular heavy rains over the last few months have flooded many fields, ruining numerous crops for the season. In contrast is the rapid expansion and intensification of drought conditions in North Dakota. Large areas of western and central North Dakota went from D0 and D1 drought conditions to D3 in approximately one month. Currently, the entire state is in drought ranging from D0 in the eastern portions to D3 in western North Dakota.
For more information, please go to the High Plains Regional Climate Center Home Page.

Southern Region: (Information provided by the Southern Regional Climate Center)
  • In the month of July, average temperatures in the Southern Region were generally within a few degrees of normal. In northeastern Texas, the average July temperature exceeded 3-4°F (1.5-2°C) above normal in a small area near Dallas and a second small region just north of College Station. In southern Texas, where drought conditions have recently dominated the area, temperature averages ranged from 2°F (1°C) below normal near Brownsville to as much as 4°F (2°C) below normal just northeast of Carrizo Springs.

  • Precipitation during July was quite variable over the Southern Region, due in part to Hurricane Dolly. The storm slammed into the southern Texas coast as a category two hurricane on July 23rd. Consequently, monthly rainfall totals in far southern Texas were excessive, with many stations in the southernmost counties reporting anywhere from 200 to 600 percent of normal. Rainfall totals for the month were highest in the Southern and Lower Valley climate divisions, with values ranging from 3 to 6 inches (76 mm to 152 mm) at most stations to as much as 15.4 inches (390 mm) at Harlingen. As Dolly pushed inward, she was also partially responsible for above normal monthly totals in the Trans Pecos climate division. There, rainfall totals were approximately 3 to 5 inches (76 mm to 127 mm) above average. Unrelated to Dolly, similar positive departures in rainfall were also observed in the northern Texas Panhandle and in northern Arkansas. Elsewhere, rainfall was generally below normal, particularly in southern Arkansas, eastern Texas and most of Louisiana, where totals ranged from 5-50% of normal. In parts of Mississippi, western Tennessee, and southern Oklahoma, precipitation for the month varied between one quarter and one half of the monthly average.

  • The most significant July severe weather in the Southern Region came in the form of Hurricane Dolly. Shortly before landfall on the morning of July 23rd, Dolly's maximum wind speeds increased to approximately 100 mph (160 km/h), making her a category two storm. Dolly made landfall that afternoon along the southern Texas coast near South Padre Island. The storm pushed inland in a northwesterly direction and was quickly downgraded to a category one storm and, later, a tropical storm. In total, two deaths were attributed to the hurricane—one by electrocution and the other by drowning in the surf. Dolly damaged thousands of Rio Grande homes, tore down power lines, and filled the streets with flood waters. Over 200,000 people were left without power, the restoration of which was hindered by flooding. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that federal disaster aid has been made available for Texas to assist in damage recovery.
For more information, please go to the Southern Regional Climate Center Home Page.

Western Region: (Information provided by the Western Regional Climate Center)
  • Temperatures throughout the West were slightly to moderately above normal with the exception of the coastal Pacific Northwest and much of New Mexico. Portions of the Intermountain West had an extremely warm month, with Denver recording its 2nd warmest July in the 60 year record. The final 19 days of the month in Denver equaled or exceeded 90°F (32°C), which broke its all time consecutive 90°F (32°C) day record. This record string of hot weather has continued into August. Cheyenne, WY, recorded just one day below normal during July. In contrast, most of Alaska had a very cool month, with Anchorage recording its lowest July average maximum temperature on record while Juneau observed its 2nd coolest July in recorded history.

  • Precipitation was predictably a mixed bag for a summer month, with the notable exception of very wet conditions in New Mexico due to strong monsoonal flow and the remnants of Hurricane Dolly. Cloudcroft, NM recorded its wettest July on record with 13.3 inches (339 mm) of rain and Albuquerque recorded its 4th wettest July in 93 years with 3.4 inches (86 mm). Parts of Alaska were quite wet with Fairbanks measuring its 6th wettest July on record and Juneau its 2nd wettest.

  • On July 9th, 110°F (43°C) heat near Shafter, California led to the death of a 42 year old vineyard worker. On July 12th, an intense thunderstorm just north of Mt. Whitney in California dropped 6-7 inches (153-178 mm) of heavy rainfall, causing a flash flood and a 300-yard wide mud flow that seriously damaged 25 homes near Oak Creek and closed U.S. Highway 395 for two days. On July 25th, an 8-year old child was killed by lightning while watching a baseball game in Tucson, AZ. Up to 8 inches (203 mm) of rain from the remnants of Hurricane Dolly fell in a 36-hour period in parts of the Sacramento Mountains in southern New Mexico, causing numerous flash floods on July 26—27. In Ruidoso, over 100 homes were damaged and 150 people took refuge in shelters. Eight bridges were damaged or washed out and numerous highways in the area were closed.
For more information, please go to the Western Regional Climate Center Home Page.

Alaska: (Information provided by Audrey Rubel at NOAA NWS Alaska Region Headquarters.)
  • Much of Alaska experienced a cooler than average July this year, despite a warm spell during the beginning of the month across much of the state. The interior experienced warm summer weather during the first ten days of the month, but cool and wet conditions prevailed thereafter. The average July temperature in Fairbanks of 60.6°F (15.9°C) was 1.8°F (1°C) below normal. July was cooler and wetter than normal across the entire panhandle as well. High temperatures there were lower than average, with July 2008 having the fewest number of days above 60°F (16°C) since the early 1970s. In the far north, Kotzebue set two new record high temperatures during the first week of July and then set a new record low temperature on July 22 after cooler weather moved into the area. Despite warm weather in the first part of the month, July in Nome was 3.1°F (1.7°C) cooler than average.

  • Rainfall in the Alaskan interior was above normal during July. Eielson Air Force Base experienced the wettest July in the 60-year record with 7.3 inches (185 mm) of precipitation, and Fairbanks experienced its 6th highest July total in 104 years of observations. Widespread rainfall amounts of 3-5 inches (76-126 mm) caused flooding in interior Alaska during the last week of July. Levels on the Tanana River at Fairbanks reached the second highest stage on record, surpassed only by the 1967 flood. July precipitation was higher than normal for the panhandle, with many areas in the top ten wet years. Rain fell nearly every day of the month in the panhandle. July 2008 was the 2nd wettest on record in Juneau with a total of 8.3 inches (210 mm), 2.1 inches (54 mm) below the record set in 1997. The year-to-date accumulated rainfall in most of this region is now about 1 inch (25 mm) above normal. Kodiak, which received 235% of normal precipitation amounts, experienced its 4th wettest July on record.

  • As of August 1st, the areal extent of ice in the Chukchi Sea was somewhat lower than the long-term mean. In the Beaufort Sea, however, ice coverage is well below the mean and is at or near record minimum amounts. In contrast, Nome saw frost on two days during July for the first time since 1976.

See NCDC's Monthly Extremes web-page for weather and climate records for the month of July. For additional national, regional, and statewide data and graphics from 1895-present, for July, the last 3 months or other periods, please visit the Climate at a Glance page.

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PLEASE NOTE: All of the temperature and precipitation ranks and values are based on preliminary data.  The ranks will change when the final data are processed, but will not be replaced on these pages.  Graphics based on final data are provided on the Climate Monitoring Products page and the Climate at a Glance page as they become available.

Citing This Report

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: National Climate Report for July 2008, published online August 2008, retrieved on January 19, 2018 from