National Climate Report - July 2020


National Overview

July Extreme Weather/Climate Events

July Highlights

July Temperature

  • The contiguous U.S. average temperature during July was 75.7°F, 2.1°F above the 20th century average and ranking 11th warmest third of the 126-year record.
  • The more dominant circulation patterns observed during July brought cool temperatures to the Northern Rockies during the first half of the month and warmer temperatures to both East and West Coasts near the end of the month.
  • Above-average July temperatures were present across much of the West, Southwest, southern Plains, central Rockies and from the Mississippi River Valley to the East Coast. Virginia (tied), Maryland, Pennsylvania (tied), Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut (tied) and New Hampshire each had their warmest July and month on record with 14 additional states across the South and East having a top-10 month.
    • The Northeast Region had its warmest July and month on record, surpassing the previous record set in 1921 by 0.5°F. Many cities across the Northeast broke all-time high monthly temperature records, according to the Northeast Regional Climate Center.
  • Below-average temperatures were limited to portions of the northern Rockies and central Plains.
  • The contiguous U.S. average maximum (daytime) temperature during July was 88.4°F, 1.7°F above the 20th century average, ranking in the warmest one-third of the record. Above-average maximum temperatures were observed along parts of the West Coast, the Southwest, central Rockies and from the Great Lakes to New England and down the East Coast. Below-average daytime temperatures occurred across portions of the northern Rockies, central Plains and central Gulf Coast.
  • The contiguous U.S. average minimum (nighttime) temperature during July was 62.9°F, 2.4°F above the 20th century average, ranking fourth warmest on record. Above-average minimum temperatures were observed along the West Coast and from the Southwest to the northern Plains eastward to the Atlantic Coast.
  • The Alaska average July temperature was 53.3°F, 0.6°F above the long-term mean and ranked in the middle third of the historical record for the state. It was the coolest July since 2014.
    • Much of the northern and eastern portions of the state were cooler than average during July.
    • Like much of northern and eastern Alaska, Utqiaġvik (Barrow) had a high temperature for the month of 53°F — the second-lowest July maximum temperature in more than 100 years.
    • As a result of the cooler temperatures across the Interior during July and the above-average precipitation during June, the Alaskan wildfire season, to-date, is well-below average and has consumed the lowest number of acres since 2008.
    • In contrast to the cooler conditions across the northern and eastern portions of the state, southwestern, south central and portions of southeastern Alaska experienced above-average temperatures during July.
    • Kodiak had its third-warmest July since 1915, while Cold Bay tied for fourth warmest (since 1950).
    • Sitka Airport tied its all-time high temperature of 88°F on July 31 and reported its warmest daily mean temperature on record — 73.5°F.
    • Sea ice across the Chukchi Sea continues its summertime melt phase with a July average extent at 81% of average — the highest coverage since 2016.
  • Based on data received by August 10, there were 4,822 record warm daily high (1,739) and low (3,083) temperature records during July, which is more than four times the 1,130 record cold daily high (593) and low (537) temperature records.
  • Based on NOAA's Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index (REDTI), the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand during July was 228 percent of average and the third highest value in the 126-year period of record.

July Precipitation

  • The July precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 2.93 inches, 0.15 inch below average and ranked in the wettest one-third of the historical period of record.
  • Above-average precipitation was observed across much of the northern and central Plains as well as the Great Lakes, Mississippi Valley and Gulf Coast. Kansas ranked seventh wettest for July.
  • Below-average precipitation fell across much of the West and portions of the Deep South, central Plains, Ohio Valley and Southeast. Arizona ranked sixth driest while Nevada ranked 11th driest.
  • The Atlantic Hurricane season has been active with a combination of three tropical storms and two hurricanes named during July. These storms became the earliest fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth named storms on record in the Atlantic Basin.
    • Tropical Storm Edouard formed in the Atlantic Ocean on July 4 off the coast of South Carolina and moved away from land.
    • Tropical Storm Fay formed in the Gulf of Mexico on July 9 and, as a depression, proceeded to make landfall over the Florida Panhandle before emerging into the Atlantic Ocean off the Georgia coast, intensifying into a tropical storm and making landfall again near Atlantic City, NJ.
    • Tropical storm Gonzalo formed in the eastern Caribbean on July 21 and drifted westward toward the islands of Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines as well as Trinidad and Tobago before dissipating near the Venezuelan coast.
    • Hurricane Hanna formed in the Gulf of Mexico on July 23 and tracked westward making landfall on Padre Island, TX as a strong category 1 hurricane. Hanna was the first hurricane of the season in the Atlantic Basin.
    • Hurricane Isaias formed in the Caribbean on July 30, bringing heavy winds and rainfall to Puerto Rico before strengthening and moving toward the southeastern U.S.
  • In the Pacific Ocean, Hurricane Douglas skirted to the north of the Hawaiian Islands during July, escaping landfall by only 39 miles. According to the Western Regional Climate Center, Douglas brought some beneficial rains to portions of the islands.
  • Alaska received near-average precipitation during July, but regional amounts varied. Much of the West Coast and portions of the Aleutians, Southeast Interior and Northeast Gulf divisions had drier-than-average precipitation while most of the Panhandle and portions of the Northeast Interior, Central Interior and Bristol Bay divisions received above-average precipitation for the month.
  • According to the July 28 U.S. Drought Monitor report, approximately 33 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, which is about seven percentage points higher than what was reported at the end of June. Drought conditions expanded or intensified across parts of the West, South, central Plains, central Rockies, Great Lakes, Ohio Valley and Northeast. Drought intensity lessened across portions of the northern Plains and central to southern High Plains. Outside of the contiguous U.S., drought intensity lessened across portions of Puerto Rico, Hawaii and Micronesia.

Year-to-Date Highlights

January-July Temperature

  • The year-to-date (January-July) contiguous U.S. average temperature was 53.6°F, 2.4°F above average, ranking seventh warmest on record.
  • Above- to much-above-average January-July temperatures were observed across much of the Lower 48. Florida had its warmest year-to-date period on record with New Jersey ranking second warmest and Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts ranking third warmest. The Florida statewide average temperature for the first seven months of 2020 was 72.7°F, 3.3°F above average. Three of the last four years have been the three warmest January-July periods on record for Florida.
  • Near-average temperatures were concentrated across portions of the northern Rockies and scattered over the northern Plains and the South.
  • The contiguous U.S. average maximum (daytime) temperature during January-July was 65.3°F, 2.1°F above the 20th century average, ranking 10th warmest in the historical record. Above-average conditions were observed across most of the Lower 48 with pockets of near-average and below-average temperatures across the northern Rockies, northern Plains, Mississippi River Valley and Tennessee Valley. Florida ranked third warmest for daytime temperatures.
  • The contiguous U.S. average minimum (nighttime) temperature during January-July was 41.9°F, 2.7°F above the 20th century average, ranking fifth warmest on record. Above-average to record-warm conditions blanketed nearly the entire Lower 48. Florida ranked warmest on record while New Mexico, South Carolina, North Carolina, New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island ranked second warmest on record.
  • The Alaska statewide average temperature for this year-to-date period was 26.0°F, 0.2°F above average and ranked in the middle one-third of the record. It was the coolest January-July since 2012. Above-average temperatures were limited to the northwest West Coast division as well as the Aleutians. Below-average conditions were present across much of the Southeast Interior division and portions of the Northeast Interior, Central Interior, Cook Inlet and Northeast Gulf divisions. Near-average temperatures were present across the vast majority of the state.
  • Based on REDTI, the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand during January-July was 42 percent of average and was the 10th lowest value on record.

January-July Precipitation

  • The year-to-date national precipitation total was 19.29 inches, 1.20 inches above average, ranking in the wettest one-third of the January-July record.
  • Above-average precipitation occurred across portions of the Northwest, central Plains and from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast and into the Southeast. Tennessee and West Virginia ranked fifth wettest for January-July with an additional five states ranking in the top-10 wettest for this year-to-date period.
  • Below-average precipitation was observed from the West Coast to the Rockies, from the northern Plains to southern High Plains, as well as across portions of the Upper Midwest and Northeast. Colorado had its eighth-driest January-July period on record with 8.00 inches of precipitation, 3.17 inches below average.
  • Year-to-date precipitation across Alaska ranked at the top of the middle third of the historical record. Much of the Alaskan mainland received above- to much-above-average precipitation over the first seven months of 2020, while the Aleutians, Cooks Inlet and Northeast Gulf regions received below-average precipitation.

Extremes

  • The U.S. Climate Extremes Index (USCEI) for the year-to-date period was 47 percent above average and ranked in the highest one-third of the 111-year period of record. Extremes in warm maximum and minimum temperatures, wet PDSI, and days with precipitation were the major contributors to this elevated CEI value. The USCEI is an index that tracks extremes (occurring in the upper or lower 10 percent of the record) in temperature, precipitation and drought across the contiguous United States.
    • On the regional scale, The Southeast ranked second highest on record for this seven-month period while the Northeast and Ohio Valley regions ranked fourth highest. Most of the elevated to record-levels in extremes were due to large regions of warm maximum and minimum temperatures, as well as wet PDSI and days with precipitation. In contast, the Northwest experienced below-average extremes during the first seven months of the year and ranked 14th lowest on record for this year-to-date period.

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 Centers for Environmental Information.

Northeast Region (Information provided by the Northeast Regional Climate Center)

  • The Northeast had its hottest July since recordkeeping began with an average temperature of 73.7 degrees F (23.2 degrees C), which was 4.1 degrees F (2.3 degrees C) warmer than normal. Six of the 12 Northeast states also recorded their hottest July on record: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. This July ranked as the second hottest on record for Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont and as the fourth hottest for Maine and West Virginia. State average temperature departures ranged from 3.1 degrees F (1.7 degrees C) above normal in Maine to 4.8 degrees F (2.7 degrees C) above normal in Vermont. This July was the all-time hottest month on record for Scranton and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Buffalo, Syracuse, and LaGuardia Airport, New York; Burlington, Vermont; Baltimore, Maryland; Portland, Maine; Bridgeport, Connecticut; Elkins, West Virginia; and Dulles Airport, Virginia. In addition, Baltimore, Maryland; Hartford, Connecticut; LaGuardia Airport, New York; Philadelphia and Scranton, Pennsylvania; Providence, Rhode Island; and Washington, D.C. recorded their greatest number of days with a high of at least 90 degrees F (32 degrees C) for any month on record. Buffalo, New Yok, saw eight consecutive days (July 3 through 10) with a high of at least 90 degrees F (32 degrees C), its longest streak on record. Buffalo also recorded its hottest July temperature on record with a high of 98 degrees F (37 degrees C) on July 9. Portland, Maine, recorded its hottest minimum temperature for any month since 1940 with a low of 78 degrees F (26 degrees C) on July 27.
  • July precipitation totaled 3.94 inches (100.08 mm), 93 percent of normal, in the Northeast. State precipitation ranged from 50 percent of normal in Rhode Island to 155 percent of normal in Delaware, with nine states wrapping up July on the dry side of normal. This July ranked as the 20th driest on record for Rhode Island but as the 15th wettest for New Jersey and 17th wettest for Delaware. Newark, New Jersey, had its wettest July on record with 11.17 inches (283.72 mm) of rain.
  • The U.S. Drought Monitor released on July 2 showed 14 percent of the Northeast in a moderate drought and 31 percent was abnormally dry. During July, the general trend across the region was worsening drought and abnormally dry conditions. Severe drought was introduced in northern Maine and northern New York. Moderate drought expanded in Maine and eastern/northern New York and was introduced in the western half of Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia, central/southeastern Maryland, and eastern Long Island, New York. Abnormal dryness also expanded to encompass nearly half the region. The U.S. Drought Monitor released on July 30 showed 29 percent of the Northeast in a severe or moderate drought and 42 percent was abnormally dry. There were numerous impacts across the region, particularly in New England and New York. On July 2, the water level of Lake Champlain at Burlington, Vermont, was around 95 feet (29 m), more than a foot (0.3 m) below normal and a level more typical of mid-to late August. Due to this, low-water obstacles could be a problem for boaters earlier than usual. Maine officials warned the state’s lakes could experience more harmful algal blooms this summer due to the hot, dry conditions. Water restrictions were in place for numerous locations in Massachusetts and several locations in Connecticut and New York. Vermont’s online map showed a few wells went dry in early July. Through much of July, water levels of Aquarion’s Greenwich and Bridgeport, Connecticut, reservoirs were near their 2016 drought levels. A July 14 press release from Aquarion said, “Despite receiving some beneficial rainfall over the last few weeks, high temperatures and high water demands continue to reduce water reservoir levels in Connecticut. 2020’s below average rainfall has resulted in Southwest Fairfield County hitting its second drought trigger this summer.” As of July 30, 132 public water systems in New Hampshire had restrictions in place. Some Maine farmers noted they were watering crops frequently and that crops such as corn were behind schedule, with one farmer losing a large portion of their pea crop. A press release from Maine Emergency Management Agency noted northern Maine had seen “impacts to crops, including hay, potatoes, wheat and barley as well as an increase in invasive species due to the lack of rain…” Growers in New York noted variable crop conditions due to hit-or-miss rainfall during July. In a few locations, corn was curling and turning blue due to moisture stress. The condition of corn and soybean crops generally improved in areas that saw beneficial rains. However, hay yields were expected to be lower in several parts of New York. Dry conditions in northern and eastern West Virginia led some cattle farmers to thin their herds due to deteriorating pasture conditions. Crops were also suffering due to hot, dry conditions in western Maryland. Dry conditions in Maine caused a fungus that kills the pupa of the browntail moth caterpillar to grow too late this year. This allowed the caterpillar, which defoliates trees and can cause a skin rash, headaches, and breathing difficulty, to spread farther into central Maine. Stressed grass turned black in parts of Maine due to a fungal disease. In early July, New Hampshire and interior Massachusetts continued to see an enhanced fire risk, with New Hampshire officials noting an increased amount of dry vegetation that could fuel wildfires and Massachusetts officially saying, “As drought conditions increase, fires can be expected to burn deeper into the ground fuels, making it challenging for firefighters to extinguish fires and taking multiple days to contain them.” St. Lawrence County, New York, extended its burn ban in July due to dry conditions and numerous brush fires but allowed the ban to expire on July 17.
  • Water temperatures were also unusually warm during July. Preliminary data from NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab showed the average surface water temperatures of Lakes Erie and Ontario in early July were more than 6 degrees F (3 degrees C) warmer than normal, ranking among some of the lakes’ hottest water temperatures on record (since 1995). There were many days during July with severe weather or flash flooding in the Northeast. During a thunderstorm on July 5 in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, a tree fell on an outbuilding, which collapsed and injured 19 people. One particularly notable event was severe flash flooding in the northern suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on July 6. Between 3 and 6 inches (76 to 152 mm) of rain fell in a two-hour period at rainfall rates of 3 or more inches (76 mm) per hour. This led to rapid rises and moderate flooding on some waterways. For instance, the Frankford Creek rose 4 feet (1 m) in 10 minutes, while Pennypack Creek reached 10.45 feet (3.19 m), which ranked as the ninth highest water level since 1965 (based on preliminary data). There were numerous closed roads, submerged vehicles, and dozens of water rescues. A rare flash flood emergency was issued by the Philadelphia/Mt. Holly National Weather Service office. Parts of New Jersey also experienced heavy rain and flash flooding, with reports of water up to car hoods in Ocean City. Elsewhere in New Jersey, a waterspout was spotted near Stone Harbor and a funnel cloud was reported in Atlantic County. Straight-line winds on Maryland’s Eastern Shore snapped and downed some trees, with several roads closed due to debris. A lightning strike killed two people and injured two others in Bradford County, Pennsylvania. Tropical Storm Fay formed on July 9, becoming the earliest “F” named storm. Fay made landfall near Atlantic City, New Jersey, on July 10 and dropped between 3 and 7 inches (76 to 178 mm) of rain on parts of Maryland, Delaware, eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, southeastern New York, and southwestern Connecticut. In fact, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, had its fourth wettest July day on record with 4.15 inches (105.41 mm) of rain on July 10. On the northern side of the city, Frankford Creek reached moderate flood stage for the second time in a week. Flash flooding was reported from Delaware to New York, resulting in road closures and water rescues. The storm’s winds also downed trees and power lines. In addition, there was one fatality in Margate City, New Jersey, due to a rip current. The remnants of Fay helped spawn an EF-0 tornado in southern Maine on July 11. The tornado, the first of the year in New England, snapped and uprooted trees. On July 14, hail as large as ping pong balls damaged 1,000 vehicles at a car dealership near Sanford, Maine, and piled up enough to be plowed off the lot. Heavy rain poured into the hospital operating room in Woodsville, New Hampshire, causing dozens of procedures to be cancelled. The second tornado of July, an EF-1, touched down in southwestern New York on July 16. Localized downpours from July 22 to 24 led to flash flooding in portions of Maryland, eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey, resulting in closed roads, stuck cars, and water rescues. Floodwaters left a bus stranded and moved several cars in Baltimore, Maryland. Frankford Creek in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, rose five feet (1.5 m) in 30 minutes, reaching moderate flood stage. In addition, hundreds of trees were blown down in Washington, D.C., two people were hospitalized after they were struck by lightning in Queens, New York, and a waterspout was spotted off the coast of Seaside Heights, New Jersey. The third tornado of July touched down in western New York on July 29.
  • For more information, please visit the Northeast Regional Climate Center Home Page.

Midwest Region (Information provided by the Midwest Regional Climate Center)

  • July precipitation in the Midwest was primarily from thunderstorms that brought variable amounts across the region. On average the region totaled 4.68 inches (119 mm) which was 0.62 inches (16mm) above normal. This ranked as the 21st wettest July on record (1895-2020). There were two swaths across the Midwest with above normal precipitation, including some areas with more than twice their normal amounts, including much of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and northern Michigan in one swath, and northern Missouri, much of Illinois, southern Indiana, and much of Kentucky in another. Drier than normal conditions fell between those swaths, including Iowa, parts of southern Minnesota, northern Illinois, northern Indiana, southern Michigan, and much of Ohio. Southern Missouri and parts of Kentucky also were below normal in July. The driest area was in central Iowa where less than half of normal July precipitation was recorded. Climate Division 2 in Michigan, which covers the eastern Upper Peninsula, had its wettest July on record (1895-2020). Station records for July were broken in Alpena, Michigan (104 years on record), Rhinelander, Wisconsin (111 years on record) and St. Joseph, Missouri (117 years on record) among others.
  • July temperatures were above normal for nearly all areas in the Midwest, though a few areas in the western parts of the region were near normal. Average temperature for the region was 75.2 degrees F (24.0 C) which was 2.6 degrees F (2.5 C) above normal. This ranked July among the 15 warmest on record (1895-2020) for the region. Ohio was one of the warmest states, with records for average temperature in Akron (128 years on record) and Mansfield (101 years on record), helping it to record its 6th warmest July statewide. Michigan also recorded its 6th warmest July. Extreme heat impacted the region during the first week of the month, with maximum temperatures averaging above 90 degrees F (32 C) and heat index values over 100 degrees F (38 C). Temperatures moderated only slightly during the remainder of the month, with most areas near to slightly above normal.
  • Drought expanded in the Midwest in July. Drought had returned to the region in early June in Minnesota after the region was drought free since November. In late June, parts of Wisconsin and Missouri also had drought development. In July, moderate drought expanded to parts of all nine Midwest states. Well below-normal precipitation, and July heat, led to severe drought in about 12 percent of Iowa, primarily in western Iowa. Soils and crops in these areas were stressed as the corn and soybean crops reached important stages of development.
  • Severe weather was widespread in July, with more than 1,500 reports of severe thunderstorm winds, large hail and tornadoes. Many of these reports came from two separate episodes from July 8-11 and July 17-19. A powerful EF-4 tornado impacted rural western Minnesota on July 8, with estimated wind speeds of 170 mph. A 30-year old man was killed from the tornado with two others injured along with damage to numerous structures. The tornado was the strongest to hit Minnesota since 2010, and the first tornado fatality in the state since 2011. A line of storms on July 11 accounted for more than 340 reports. Strong winds and large hail began in southern Minnesota and also caused more than 2-inch (5 cm) diameter hail in portions of central Iowa. Winds became stronger as the storm moved into northern Illinois and southern Indiana.
  • For further details on the weather and climate events in the Midwest, see the weekly and monthly reports at the Midwest Climate Watch page.

Southeast Region (Information provided by the Southeast Regional Climate Center)

  • Temperatures were above average across much of the Southeast region and Puerto Rico for the month of July. Monthly mean temperatures were at least 2 degrees F (1.1 degrees C) above average for over 50 percent of the 198 long-term (i.e., period of record equaling or exceeding 50 years) stations across the region. There were 15 stations that observed monthly mean temperatures that observed their warmest July on record, including Miami, FL (1895-2020), Aibonito, PR (1906-2020) and Norfolk, VA (1871-2020). Maximum temperatures ranged from 7 degrees F (3.9 degrees C) above normal in Norfolk, VA (1871-2020) to 4.6 degrees F (2.6 degrees C) below normal in Santuck, SC (1895-2020). Daily temperature minimums ranged from 5.8 degrees F (3.2 degrees C) above normal in Marion, NC (1893-2020) to 3.6 degrees F (2 degrees C) below normal in Fairhope, AL (1917-2020). The warmest weather of the month occurred from the 18th through the 22nd, as the circulation around the Bermuda High, situated off the Atlantic coast, transported warm, humid air over much of the Southeast region. Daily maximum temperatures exceeded 95 degrees F (35 degrees C) across much of the region, with several stations north of Florida reaching 100 degrees F (38 degrees C) or higher. Norfolk, VA (1871-2020) observed 5 days where the daily maximum temperature reached or exceeded 100 degrees F (38 degrees C), which is the most 100-degree days observed in any month. Also, 4 of those days were consecutive, which is the longest 100-degree streak Norfolk, VA has ever reported. Several stations observed their highest count of July days with a maximum daily temperature of at least 90 degrees F (32 degrees C) including; Cape Hatteras, NC (1874-2020; 24 days), Raleigh, NC (1887-2020; 28 days), Washington Reagan, DC (1871-2020; 28 days), Charlottesville, VA (1962-2020; 30 days), Norfolk, VA (1871-2020; 26 days), and Roanoke, VA (1912-2020; 30 days). Along with count, many of these stations reported their longest streak of consecutive 90-degree days including; Cape Hatteras, NC (1874-2020; 12 days), Charlottesville, VA (1962-2020; 35 days), and Roanoke, VA (1912-2020; 29 days). In contrast, the coolest weather of the month across the Southeast occurred from the 11th – 13th, as the circulation around a departing mid-latitude cyclone ushered in relatively cooler and drier air from Canada. Daily minimum temperatures ranged from 50 to 65 degrees F (10 to 18.3 degrees C) across portions of every state north of Florida, with a few locations in the higher elevations of North Carolina and Virginia falling below 50 degrees F.
  • Precipitation was highly variable across the Southeast region during July, with a few wet and dry extremes recorded. The driest locations were found across the eastern Carolinas, eastern Virginia, and northern Georgia. Monthly precipitation totals ranged from 70 to less than 25 percent of normal across these locations. Indeed, Jackson, NC (1948-2020) only observed 0.59 inches (15 mm) of precipitation, which was more than 4.5 inches (114 mm) below average and the driest July on record. In contrast, the wettest locations were located across the Florida Panhandle, eastern Florida and Puerto Rico. Precipitation totals ranged from 150 to 300 percent of normal. Only nine long-term stations (i.e., period of record equaling or exceeding 50 years) observed July precipitation that ranked in the top five wettest on record, including Coloso, PR (1899-2020; 1st wettest), which received 17.83 inches (453 mm) of precipitation, over 10 inches (254 mm) above normal. On July 5th a line of thunderstorms associated with a sea breeze front dropped 4.06 inches (mm) of rain for West Palm Beach, FL (1888-2020), making this their 3rd wettest July day on record. From the 29th through the 30th, Tropical Storm Isaias impacted parts of Puerto Rico. Heavy rain triggered flash flooding in several areas. San Juan, PR received over 6 inches (152 mm) of rain from the storm, and Juncos, PR received over 9 inches (229 mm). Multiple fallen trees, mudslides, and river flooding were reported in southwest Puerto Rico, according to local emergency management officials due to Tropical Storm Isaias.
  • There were 655 reports of severe weather across the Southeast during July, which is 113 percent of the median monthly frequency of 578 reports during 2000-2018. There was one confirmed tornado reported for the month (1 EF-0), only 10 percent of the monthly average of 10. This tornado developed as a waterspout just off the coast of Caswell Beach in Brunswick County, NC on July 6th. It moved onshore nearly parallel to the beach and lofted a beach umbrella across Caswell Beach road before the funnel lifted. Maximum wind speed was estimated at 65 mph (29 m/s). Fortunately, no injuries or fatalities were reported. There were 44 reports of hail for the month, with the largest being golf-ball sized (1.75 inches) in Baldwin County, AL on July 12th. There were 609 wind reports for the month, which is 120 percent of the average (506 reports). On July 5th strong thunderstorm winds brought down a tree in Gaston County, NC, killing a 34-year old woman. Damaging straight line winds impacted the Washington DC area on July 6th, with the strongest reported gust at 69 mph (31 m/s). There were reports of several trees and large tree branches downed from these winds, however no injuries or fatalities were reported. Unfortunately, there was one lightning death in the region for the month. A 9-year old girl was struck while walking in Moultrie County, GA on July 3rd.
  • Drought conditions have increased slightly across the Southeast for July while slightly decreasing in Puerto Rico. A small pocket of moderate drought conditions (D1) emerged in eastern Georgia and northern Virginia. Abnormally dry conditions (D0) expanded across Georgia, Virginia, eastern Alabama, and western Florida. Throughout the month, drought conditions changed very little for Puerto Rico, and by the end of July, severe drought (D2) reduced in coverage through southern Puerto Rico and the eastern part of the USVI. Most of eastern Puerto Rico is under moderate drought conditions (D1), with abnormally dry conditions (D0) stretching westward. Although this drought is expected to improve with the recent rainfall from Tropical Storm Isaias. The citrus growing region in Florida continued to experience warm conditions, however rainfall helped contribute to normal grove activities. Rainfall and warm temperatures helped improve row crop conditions throughout much of the Florida Panhandle and northern peninsula. However, some isolated fungus issues were reported in the peanut crop. Most crops were progressing well in Georgia, despite the very hot and dry conditions. Tobacco was being harvested with some drought pressure shown in the crop. Producers ran irrigation due to the hot and dry conditions in the eastern half of Alabama, however row crops remained in mostly good condition. Meanwhile, several pastures were reporting dry fields, but cattle continued to be in mostly good condition. In some South Carolina counties, the heat and dry conditions continued to damage crops that were already stressed, while in other counties, frequent summer storms prevented saturated fields from drying out. Heavy rain in the Midlands region of the state washed out some recently planted fall vegetable fields that will need to be replanted; however overall fall vegetable field preparations and planting were proceeding at a good pace.
  • For more information, please visit the Southeast Regional Climate Center Home Page.

High Plains Region (Information provided by the High Plains Regional Climate Center)

  • After the continuation of above-normal temperatures from June into the first part of July, temperatures moderated and ended up being near normal for the month for much of the region. There were some interesting extremes, however, that were particularly noteworthy (read more about these in the Temperature section). As for precipitation, it was a tale of two extremes. Above-normal precipitation occurred across portions of the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Kansas. Precipitation totals were particularly impressive in Hebron, Nebraska, which had its wettest July on record. The heavy rainfall proved to be beneficial for drought-stricken areas such as western North Dakota and western Kansas, but it was also responsible for overland flooding and rises on local waterways in portions of Kansas and South Dakota. In contrast, dry conditions persisted across areas of Wyoming, Colorado, and western and eastern portions of Nebraska. Casper, Wyoming had its driest July on record. The dryness contributed to further expansion of drought across these areas. Impacts continued to mount due to the dryness, such as the degradation of pasture and rangeland conditions, leading to the continuation of cattle sell-offs and increased irrigation. Crop conditions were generally in good shape across the region. By the end of July, corn was faring well in Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota, with over 70 percent of the crop rated as in good to excellent condition. Corn was faring worst in drought-stricken Colorado, with 25 percent of the crop in poor to very poor condition. Soybeans were doing quite well region-wide. However, pastures and rangeland were struggling in Wyoming and Colorado due to worsening drought conditions. Compared to early July, topsoil moisture improved in Nebraska and Kansas but worsened in North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Colorado. The biggest change occurred in Kansas, where the percent of topsoil moisture rated short to very short improved from 47 percent to only 19 percent. In areas where crops are struggling due to drought, receiving ample precipitation in August will be critical; otherwise, there is likely to be significant yield loss.
  • Overall, temperatures were near normal across the High Plains this month. Scattered areas of above-normal temperatures, in the 2.0-4.0 degrees F (1.1-2.2 degrees C) range, did lead to some locations ranking in the top 10 warmest Julys on record. For instance, Grand Forks, ND, had its 8th warmest July with an average monthly temperature of 72.7 degrees F (22.6 degrees C). Grand Forks’ warmest July occurred during the Dust Bowl in 1936 when the average temperature for the month was 79.3 degrees F (26.3 degrees C) (period of record 1893-2020). Although top 10 temperature rankings were not widespread this month, there were many locations that ranked in the top 10 warmest season-to-date temperatures (June 1 through July 31). Some of those locations included Aberdeen, SD; Bismarck, ND; Denver, CO; and Cheyenne, WY. It is worth noting that a number of temperature extremes have occurred in Colorado this season. On July 10th, Alamosa, CO set a new record low of 37.0 degrees F (2.8 degrees C) and a new record high of 92.0 degrees F (33.3 degrees C) all on the same day (period of record 1906-2020). This was an incredibly rare event! Several locations also had an impressive number of days that reached at least 90.0 degrees F (32.2 degrees C) this month. Pueblo, CO had 27 days with temperatures of at least 90.0 degrees F (32.2 degrees C), which pushed its year-to-date total to 60 days - a new record for this timeframe (January 1 through July 31) (period of record 1888-2020). Meanwhile, Denver, CO had 23 days with temperatures of 90.0 degrees F (32.2 degrees C) or higher, for a year-to-date total of 42 days. This amount was just behind the record of 46 days, which occurred in 2012 (period of record 1872-2020).
  • Precipitation varied widely across the High Plains region this month, with some locations setting records for wettest July and others setting records for the driest. The wettest areas of the region were generally in the east, with the majority of Kansas, central Nebraska, central South Dakota, and eastern North Dakota receiving at least 150 percent of normal precipitation. Drought conditions improved or were removed across much of these areas. Additionally, many locations ranked among the top ten wettest Julys on record, including Concordia, KS (3rd wettest); Dodge City, KS (5th wettest); Grand Forks, ND (6th wettest); and Topeka, KS (7th wettest). One of the wettest locations in the region this month was Hebron, NE, which is located in south-central Nebraska, just north of the Kansas border. Not only did Hebron have its wettest July, with 16.70 inches (424 mm) of precipitation, it also had its wettest month on record (period of record 1893-2020). Interestingly, 4.98 inches (126 mm) of this monthly total was reported on July 27th, which was the 6th highest one-day precipitation total for the location. On the other end of the spectrum, dry conditions prevailed across much of Wyoming, northern Colorado, and the panhandle of Nebraska. Locations in this area received, at best, 50 percent of normal precipitation. Some embedded pockets received less than 5 percent of normal precipitation. This lack of precipitation contributed to a rapid intensification of drought conditions across Wyoming, where the total area in severe and extreme drought increased by nearly 34 percent. One extremely dry location in this drought-stricken area was Casper, WY, which had its driest July on record with only 0.02 inches (1 mm) of precipitation (period of record 1939-2020). This paltry amount was just over 1 percent of normal precipitation. The month of July featured a more active weather pattern for portions of the region. On the 24th and 25th, a slow-moving complex of thunderstorms tracked along the North Dakota-South Dakota border. According to the NWS office in Aberdeen, SD, these storms developed in a very moist air mass, which resulted in significant amounts of rainfall in a short time. Rainfall totals ranged from 4.00-10.00 inches (102-254 mm), which resulted in rises on local lakes and rivers. The Elm River just below Elm Lake reached a record stage of 19.56 feet (5.96 m) on the 25th. There were also many local roads that became inundated or washed out as a result of the excessive rainfall.
  • Streamflows were both above and below normal across the region during July. Streamflows were below normal across western Colorado, portions of Wyoming, and southwestern Nebraska as persistent dryness continued in this area. Some of the lowest streamflows were located along the Republican River in southwestern Nebraska. Streamflows were generally near normal across the western Dakotas, eastern Colorado, and western and eastern areas of South Dakota. Above-normal streamflows were prevalent across much of Kansas, central and southeastern Nebraska, and the eastern Dakotas. Precipitation amounts in excess of 200 percent of normal during the month of July were largely responsible for the above-normal streamflows in these areas.
  • This month, drought conditions expanded and intensified in portions of the High Plains, but there were other parts of the region that experienced improvements. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the area experiencing drought (D1-D4) in the region increased slightly by approximately 2.5 percent between June 30th and July 28th. A continuation of below-normal precipitation in portions of Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska led to worsening conditions in these areas. Extreme drought conditions (D3) developed over parts of north-central Wyoming at the end of the month. Severe drought (D2) was also introduced across Wyoming and the Nebraska Panhandle. Areas of moderate drought (D1) conditions were introduced to northeastern Nebraska and eastern areas of South Dakota. Abnormally dry conditions (D0) also increased in coverage across portions of the High Plains region, including areas of Colorado, Nebraska, and South Dakota. However, drought conditions improved in southwestern Kansas, which was due to precipitation amounts of up to 200 percent of normal during July. By the month’s end, D3 conditions and exceptional drought (D4) conditions had been completely removed in southwestern Kansas, with D4 conditions also being removed in southeastern Colorado. D3 conditions also decreased slightly in eastern Colorado. There were also improvements across much of western North Dakota as well, with drought conditions being removed.
  • For more information, please visit the High Plains Regional Climate Center Home Page.

Southern Region (Information provided by the Southern Regional Climate Center)

  • Temperatures for the month of July were primarily above normal across the Southern Region. Parts of northern and central Oklahoma, eastern Texas, southwestern Arkansas, central and southwestern Louisiana, and coastal Mississippi experienced temperatures 0 to 2 degrees F (0.00 to 1.11 degrees C) below normal. Conversely, parts of western and central Tennessee, eastern and southern Texas, eastern, southern, and western Oklahoma, and most of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi experienced temperatures 0 to 2 degrees F (0.00 to 1.11 degrees C) above normal. Parts of western, central, and eastern Tennessee; northeastern Arkansas; southeastern and western Oklahoma; and central, northern, and western Texas experienced temperatures 2 to 4 degrees F (1.11 to 2.22 degrees C) above normal. Parts of northern, central, and western Texas experienced temperatures 4 to 6 degrees F (2.22 to 3.33 degrees C) above normal, while parts of western Texas experienced temperatures 6 to 8 degrees F (3.33 to 4.44 degrees C) above normal. The statewide monthly average temperatures were as follows: Arkansas – 81.30 degrees F (27.39 degrees C), Louisiana – 82.70 degrees F (28.17 degrees C), Mississippi – 82.00 degrees F (27.78 degrees C), Oklahoma – 82.50 degrees F (28.06 degrees C), Tennessee – 79.40 degrees F (26.33 degrees C), and Texas – 85.10 degrees F (29.50 degrees C). The statewide temperature rankings for July were as follows: Arkansas (thirty-fifth warmest), Louisiana (thirty-second warmest), Mississippi (twenty-ninth warmest), Oklahoma (forty-eighth warmest), Tennessee (fourteenth warmest), and Texas (sixth warmest). The region as a whole experienced its nineteenth warmest July on record. All state rankings are based on the period spanning 1895-2020.
  • Precipitation values for the month of July varied spatially across the Southern Region. Parts of southeastern and western Tennessee, northeastern Arkansas, northeastern Louisiana, western Mississippi, and northern, central, southern, and western Texas received 50 percent or less of normal precipitation. Parts of northern, central, and western Texas received 25 percent or less of normal precipitation, while parts of western Texas received 5 percent or less of normal precipitation. In contrast, parts of western Tennessee, southern Mississippi, southeastern and northwestern Louisiana, western Arkansas, eastern and southern Texas, and western, northern, eastern, and central Oklahoma received 150 percent or more of normal precipitation. Parts of northwestern Tennessee, southeastern and northwestern Louisiana, eastern and southern Texas, and western, northern, southern, and eastern Oklahoma received precipitation 200 percent or more of normal, while parts of eastern and southern Texas as well as north-central Oklahoma received precipitation 300 percent or more of normal. The statewide precipitation totals for the month were as follows: Arkansas – 3.79 inches (96.26 mm), Louisiana – 7.19 inches (182.63 mm), Mississippi – 5.97 inches (151.64 mm), Oklahoma – 4.52 inches (114.81 mm), Tennessee – 4.56 inches (115.82 mm), and Texas – 2.22 inches (56.39 mm). The state precipitation rankings for July were as follows: Arkansas (sixty-second driest), Louisiana (twenty-fourth wettest), Mississippi (thirty-third wettest), Oklahoma (nineteenth driest), Tennessee (fifty-fourth wettest), and Texas (fifty-eighth driest). The region as a whole experienced its thirty-third wettest July on record. All state rankings are based on the period spanning 1895-2020.

Drought and Severe Weather

  • At the end of July, drought conditions both improved and deteriorated across the Southern Region. Extreme drought conditions persisted across northwestern Oklahoma and northern Texas, with new areas developing or expanding across western Texas. Severe drought classifications reduced in size across central and western Oklahoma as well as parts of northern Texas, but severe drought conditions developed or expanded across southwestern Oklahoma as well as northern and western Texas. Moderate drought classifications decreased across central and western Oklahoma as well as northern and western Texas, but moderate drought conditions developed or expanded across western and central Texas as well as western Tennessee. There was an increase in the overall area experiencing abnormally dry conditions, with conditions expanding or developing across eastern and western Tennessee, northwestern and western Mississippi, northeastern and northwestern Arkansas, eastern and southwestern Louisiana, southeastern Oklahoma, and eastern, central, and western Texas.
  • In July, there were approximately 299 storm reports across Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Mississippi. There were 7 tornado reports, 32 hail reports, and 260 wind reports. Texas tallied the most tornado reports (5) while Oklahoma tallied the most hail (21) and wind (109) reports. Oklahoma tallied the most reports (130) while Louisiana tallied the fewest (7). Three states (Arkansas, Mississippi, and Texas) reported tornadoes while three states (Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas) reported hail.
  • A tropical cyclone impacted the Southern Region in late July. Hurricane Hanna made landfall in Texas on July 25, which made Hanna the earliest eighth-named storm on record, the first hurricane to make landfall in Texas in July since 2008, the first hurricane to make landfall in Texas since 2017, and the first hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Parts of southern Texas received 8 to 15 inches (203.20 to 381.00 millimeters) of rain while wind gusts up to 85 mph (136.79 kph) were reported. Outer rain bands also impacted parts of Louisiana and Mississippi.
  • On July 1, 2020, there were 29 storm reports across Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas. A brief landspout tornado was reported near Marmaduke, Arkansas. A wind gust of 60 mph (96.56 kph) was reported near San Angelo, Texas.
  • On July 2, 2020, a wind gust of 60 mph (96.56 kph) was reported near Midland, Texas.
  • On July 4, 2020, a wind gust of 69 mph (111.05 kph) was reported at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Also, a wind gust of 71 mph (114.26 kph) was reported near Romero, Texas.
  • On July 5, 2020, a wind gust of 68 mph (109.44 kph) was reported near Reese Center, Texas.
  • On July 9, 2020, a wind gust of 63 mph (101.39 kph) was reported near Memphis, Texas.
  • On July 10, 2020, there were 21 wind reports across Oklahoma, 13 of which reported wind gusts of at least 60 mph (96.56 kph).
  • On July 11, 2020, there were 111 storm reports across Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. A brief landspout tornado was reported near Amarillo, Texas. Lime-sized hail was reported near Enid, Oklahoma and Welch, Oklahoma. Wind gusts of 85 mph (136.79 kph) were reported near Tribbey, Oklahoma and Wanette, Oklahoma. Additionally, a wind gust of 71 mph (114.26 kph) was reported near Lake McClellan, Texas.
  • On July 14, 2020, a waterspout moved ashore near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, while a tornado was reported near Gruver, Texas. A wind gust of 67 mph (107.83 kph) was reported near Floydada, Texas. Additionally, a wind gust of 62 mph (99.78 kph) was reported near Goodwell, Oklahoma.
  • On July 15, 2020, a wind gust of 62 mph (99.78 kph) was reported near Romero, Texas.
  • On July 19, 2020, a wind gust of 83 mph (133.58 kph) was reported near Boise City, Oklahoma.
  • On July 20, 2020, a wind gust of 60 mph (96.56 kph) was reported near Eva, Oklahoma.
  • On July 21, 2020, a wind gust of 66 mph (106.22 kph) was reported near Palo Duro, Texas.
  • On July 23, 2020, a wind gust of 65 mph (104.61 kph) was reported near Church Hill, Tennessee. There were also several reports detailing trees blown down by strong winds.
  • On July 25, 2020, there were three tornado reports in southern Texas.
  • On July 28, 2020, a wind gust of 69 mph (111.05 kph) was reported at College Station, Texas. Additionally, a wind gust of 63 mph (101.39 kph) was reported near Clinton, Oklahoma.
  • On July 29, 2020, a wind gust of 64 mph (103.00 kph) was reported near Alva, Oklahoma.
  • On July 30, 2020, there were 37 storm reports across Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. A wind gust of 90 mph (144.84 kph) was reported near Fittstown, Oklahoma, while a wind gust of 84 mph (135.19 kph) was reported near Pontotoc, Oklahoma. Additionally, a wind gust of 75 mph (120.70 kph) was reported near Lockett, Texas.
  • On July 31, 2020, there were 43 storm reports across Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas. A wind gust of 61 mph (98.17 kph) was reported near El Paso, Texas.
  • For more information, please visit the Southern Regional Climate Center Home Page.

Western Region (Information provided by the Western Region Climate Center)

  • An anomalous area of low pressure centered over the northern Rockies near the US-Canada border persisted for much of the month. The continental air mass had limited moisture and resulted in below-normal precipitation for most of the western U.S. Below normal temperatures were found throughout Idaho and Montana with above normal temperatures in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, western Nevada, and northern California.
  • Development of the Southwest Monsoon, which peaks in July for some locations, has been inhibited largely due to the position of low pressure over the northwestern U.S. which has prevented the formation of the Four Corners High—one of the primary atmospheric circulation patterns that pumps moisture into the monsoon region. However, various portions of the region including central and eastern New Mexico observed above- normal precipitation while most of Arizona experienced below-normal precipitation. Over Arizona and New Mexico combined, about 75% of the area received below normal (<75%) monsoon precipitation (beginning June 15) through the end of July based on data from the University of Arizona Monsoon Tracker. Phoenix, Arizona—where July is the wettest month of the year¬— recorded only 0.1 in (2.54 mm; 10% of normal) of rain making it the 7th driest since 1933. In addition to the dryness, Phoenix experienced anomalously hot temperatures with a record-breaking average temperature of 98.9°F (37.2°C), 4.1°F (2.3°C) above normal. To the east in New Mexico, Las Cruces saw its 2nd warmest July on record since 1892 at 85.4°F, 4°F (2.3°C) above normal while in northeastern corner of New Mexico, Clayton received 5.84 in (148.3 mm; 220%) —making it the 6th wettest since 1896.
  • The combination of persistent hot and dry conditions in July in the Southwest led to the intensification and expansion of drought conditions regionally, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The percent area in drought for the western U.S. expanded from 45% on June 30th to 59% on July 28th with 7% of the area classified as Extreme Drought (D3). Despite an average or above average winter snowpack in much of the Upper Colorado River Basin, the July unregulated observed inflow into Lake Powell was just 0.26 million acre-feet (24% of normal) and the April-July inflow was 3.7 million acre-feet (52% of normal).
  • In the Hawaiian Islands, Hurricane Douglas narrowly missed the island chain during the last week of July passing just to the north as a Category 1 hurricane. Minimal impacts (high surf, localized street flooding) were observed, but it did bring some beneficial rain to some of the drought-stricken areas. After a 77-day dry streak with no precipitation at Kahului, Maui, 0.01 in (0.25 mm) of rain fell on July 25th and another 0.27 in (6.9 mm) on July 26th in association with the passing of Hurricane Douglas. This was the 5th longest dry streak since 1905. Despite the rain, much of the island remained in moderate or severe drought. Kauai saw above normal precipitation for the month with 4.66 in (118.4 mm; 249% of normal) observed at Lihue. Central and eastern portions of the Big Island were very dry with 5.27 in (133.9 mm; 49% of normal) recorded at Hilo; the 11th driest July since 1950.
  • In Alaska, temperatures were generally above normal in the southern half of the state, below normal in the northern half, and near normal in Southeast Alaska. On the North Slope, Nuiqsut averaged 43.5°F (6.4°C), 6.4°F (3.5°C) below normal while Utqiagvik averaged 38.2°F (3.4°C), 2.7°F (1.5°C) below normal. Across much of the state (Far North, Interior, Southwest), precipitation was above normal while Southeast Alaska observed above-normal precipitation including Elfin Cove which recorded 6.82 in (173.2 mm; 150% of normal) while Ketchikan logged 10.77 in (273.6 mm; 164% of normal).

Significant Events

  • Uptick in large wildfire activity in California: Several large wildfires ignited in July that are still burning with Type 1 and Type 2 Incident Management Teams deployed. In Northeastern California, a cluster of fires were started by lightning strikes in mid-July with the July Complex being the largest at over 83,000 acres burned and prompting evacuations near the community of Copic in Modoc County. In southern California, the Apple fire started on July 31st in Riverside County and has burned over 27,000 acres with 12 structures being destroyed including four homes.
  • Flash flooding in New Mexico: Much-needed rain fell near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico on July 27th. However, this came in a short duration with 2-3 inches falling in one hour. The city golf course, library, and police department buildings were all flooded in the event. One mobile home was reportedly lifted off of the foundation. No injuries were reported.
  • Low reservoirs in the Rio Grande Basin, New Mexico: Major reservoirs in the Rio Grande Basin are well below normal and much lower than last year due to drought, poor summer runoff, and a weak Monsoon. Elephant Butte was 14% of average (8% of capacity) compared to 45% of average (25% of capacity) last year. All seven of the reporting reservoirs in the basin were less than 64% of average at the end of July.
  • For more information, please go to the Western Regional Climate Center Home Page.

Citing This Report

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: National Climate Report for July 2020, published online August 2020, retrieved on September 23, 2020 from https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/202007.

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