U.S. experiences warm and dry June; drought expands to 56 percent of Lower 48

News
Jul 13, 2012
by WLJ
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—Nation experiences warmest first-half of year; wildfires claim 1.3 million acres across nation.

The average temperature for the contiguous U.S.

during June was 71.2°F, which is 2°F above the 20th century average. Scorching temperatures during the second half of the month led to at least 170 all-time high temperature records broken or tied. The June temperatures contributed to a record-warm first half of the year and the warmest 12-month period the nation has experienced since recordkeeping began in 1895.

Precipitation totals across the country were mixed during June. The Lower 48, as a whole, experienced its 10th driest June on record, with a nationally-averaged precipitation total of 2.27 inches, 0.62 inch below average. Record and near-record dry conditions were present across the Intermountain West, while Tropical Storm Debby dropped record precipitation across Florida.

U.S. climate highlights for June

Warmer-than-average temperatures were anchored across the Intermountain West and much of the Great Plains during June. Colorado had its warmest June on record, with a statewide temperature 6.4°F above average.

Seven additional states in the region had a top 10 warm June. 1933 was the warmest June recorded in the contiguous U.S.

Cooler-than-average temperatures were present for the Pacific Northwest, where Washington had its seventh coolest June on record. Cooler-than-average conditions were also present for the Southeast, despite record warm temperatures towards the end of the month.

Record-breaking temperatures occurred across a large portion of the nation during the second half of June. Over 170 all-time warm temperature records were broken or tied during the month. Temperatures in South Carolina (113°F) and Georgia (112°F) are currently under review by the U.S. State Climate Extremes Committee as possible all-time statewide temperature records.

Precipitation patterns were mixed across the country. Drier-than-average conditions were present from the West, through the Plains, into the Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic. Wyoming had its driest June on record, with a precipitation total of 0.45 inch, which is 1.27 inches below average. Eleven additional states from Nevada to Kentucky had June precipitation totals ranking among their 10 driest.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, as of July 3, 56 percent of the contiguous U.S. experienced drought conditions, marking the largest percentage of the nation experiencing drought conditions in the 12-year record of the U.S. Drought Monitor. Drought conditions improved across Florida, due to the rains from Tropical Storm Debby. Drought conditions worsened across much of the West, Central Plains, and the Ohio Valley, causing significant impacts on agriculture in those regions.

Tropical Storm Debby brought copious precipitation to Florida during June as it slowly traversed the state. Florida’s monthly statewide precipitation total of 13.16 inches was 6.17 inches above average, ranking as the wettest June on record for the state. Parts of the Northeast, as well as the Pacific Northwest, were wetter than average. Maine, Oregon and Washington each had a top10 wet June.

Several large wildfires raged across the West in June, destroying hundreds of homes and causing the evacuation of tens of thousands of residences. The very dry, warm, and windy weather created ideal wildfire conditions. Nationwide, wildfires scorched over 1.3 million acres, the second most on record during June. —

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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