By Dan Shapley
The heat wave that ended the summer season broke more an extraordinary number of records in the southern and central United States, NOAA reported today in the National Climatic Data Center's annual look back at the summer weather.
It was compared to heat waves in 1983 and 1954, and was coupled with an unyielding drought that is unprecedented in many areas. 30 all-time high temperature records were tied or set, and 2,000 daily temperature records were established during the August heat wave. Here's a look at 15 more facts from the Climatic Data Center's report, which draws on 113 years of data:
- It was the warmest August ever recorded in nine states -- West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida and Utah.
- At an average 75.4 degrees, it was 2.7 degrees above the 20th century mean -- the second warmest August ever recorded in the contiguous U.S., and it was the sixth-warmest June-August period.
- Globally, it was the seventh warmest June-August period on record.
- It was the warmest summer on record in two states -- Utah and Nevada -- and it ranked in the top 10 for 11 other states.
- Energy demand jumped -- falling in approximately 8% higher than it would have been under normal temperature conditions.
- Raleigh-Durham, N.C., hit 105 degrees on Aug. 21 -- equaling the highest temperature ever recorded there.
- Columbia, S.C., had a string of 14 August days over 100 degrees, breaking the record of 12 set in 1900.
- Cincinnati, Ohio, set its own record for consecutive 100-degree days at five.
- As Tropical Storm Erin brought a deluge, Texas had its wettest summer on record, and Oklahoma had its fourth wettest. Devastating floods struck the region.
- Precipitation was two to three times normal for the month in a wide band across the central Midwest, and major flooding occurred in parts of a region that stretched from southeastern Minnesota to central Ohio. Iowa had its wettest August on record.
- Drought affected almost half the contintental U.S.
- By the end of August, 83% of the Southeast was experiencing drought. North Carolina recorded its driest summer ever, and Tennessee marked its second-driest. Severe drought persisted throughout much of the West and an area that stretched from northern Minnesota to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
- Hot and dry conditions contributed to an early start to a Western fire season that has remained unusually active. As of early September, more than 7 million acres had burned, mostly in the Western U.S.
- Hurricane Dean became the first Category 5 Atlantic storm to make landfall since 1992, and it was followed soon after by Hurricane Felix -- the first time on record that two Category 5 hurricanes had made landfall in the same season.
- Heavy monsoons, which started early in Southeast Asia, continued to devastate the region, with millions displaced and thousands reported dead.