US heat wave: temperature records were set here in July


New data shows that according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) through the Southeast Regional Climate Center, at least 43 locations in the US have experienced or are right on their warmest July ever.

Send the news: The record-breaking temperatures were concentrated in Texas, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, and Oregon.

By the numbers: Also in July, at least 79 places recorded their warmest average nighttime lows for the month, including nine matching their records, while 38 locations had their highest average highs.

  • In the Texas town of College Station, a previous 2009 record for the highest July average temperatures was shattered by 1.8°F, with an average temperature of 90.9°F.
  • Salt Lake City had an average monthly temperature of 87.3°F, which was 1.6°F hotter than the previous record for the month, set last year.
  • San Antonio not only had its warmest July on record, with an average temperature of 89.8°F, which was 5°F above the average for the month, but it also had the third straight month of record-breaking heat.
  • Two of the locations are relatively hard to break all-time heat records, and reflect warmer than average ocean temperatures, also related to climate change. These include Nantucket, Massachusetts, which beat its old monthly record by 1.3°F, and Robbinston, Maine.
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The prolonged heat in Texas, is notable because it overlaps with a widespread, severe drought. Overall, 60% of the state is in the most severe two categories of drought.

  • This makes it easier for the air to reach extremely high temperatures, but also further dries out the soil in a feedback loop.

The Intrigue: 11.4% of the 996 stations in the dataset registered their first, second or third hottest July ever.

  • 13% of them recorded their first, second or third highest average minimum temperature for that month.
  • Since July is the hottest month of the year in much of the U.S. and Northern Hemisphere, many of the records also qualified as new milestones for the hottest month-to-date on record.
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Why it matters: In an average year, extreme heat is the leading weather-related killer in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Weather Service.

A heat wave that recently hit the Pacific Northwest has killed at least seven people so far.

  • And yet another heat wave is gripping the US: On Wednesday, the heat will shift east to the Plains, Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states, again with more than 100 million under heat advisories.

The big picture: Parts of the US were engulfed in a heat wave last month that broke hundreds of daily and monthly weather records and put more than 100 million Americans under heat warnings and advisories for several days.

  • It came after another extended record-breaking heat wave swept across large parts of the country for several weeks in June.
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The numerous nighttime temperature records broken last month fits in with a trend caused by climate change: that nights warm up faster on average than days.

  • Abnormally high temperatures during the night prevent people from cooling off from the heat of the day, significantly increasing the risk of heat-related hospitalizations and deaths.
  • Warm nighttime temperatures can also contribute to the intensity of wildfires, as fire behavior typically decreases at night as temperatures drop, air cools and humidity increases. If this doesn’t happen, fires seize the opportunity to grow overnight as well.
  • More than 39,ooo wildfires have burned more than 5.75 million acres in the US since Jan. 1, it added. The 10-year average for acres burned to date across the country is just 3.6 million acres.

Go deeper: We didn’t build for this climate



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