The June temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 71.8°F, or 3.3°F above the 20th century average, surpassing the previous record of 71.6°F set in 1933. The year-to-date (January-June) temperaturewas 50.8°F, 3.2°F above the 20th century average, making it the third warmest on record.
The June precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 2.46 inches, 0.47 inch below the 20th century average, the 14th driest on record. Record flooding devastated parts of southern West Virginia while wildfires raged across the drought-stricken West. The year-to-date precipitation total was 15.58 inches, 0.27 inch above average, and ranked near the middle value in the 122-year period of record.
During the first half of 2016, the U.S. experienced eight weather and climate disasters* that have each met or exceeded $1 billion in damages, resulting in the loss of 30 lives and costing more than $13.1 billion in damages.
This analysis of U.S. temperature and precipitation is based on data back to January 1895, resulting in 122 years of data.
U.S. climate highlights: June
- Above-average temperatures spanned the nation from coast to coast. Seventeen states across the West, Great Plains and parts of the Southeast had June temperatures that were much above average. Above-average temperatures continued for Alaska, which had its ninth warmest June with a temperature 2.5°F above average. Arizona and Utah were each record warm with temperatures 5.9°F and 7.0°F above average, respectively.
- The warm and dry conditions across the West created ideal wildfire conditions with several large fires impacting the region. The Erskine fire charred nearly 48,000 acres in Southern California, destroying more than 280 homes and killing two people.
- Below-average precipitation was widespread across the Northern and Central Plains, Midwest and Northeast. Five states — Massachusetts,Nebraska, South Dakota, Rhode Island and Wyoming — had June precipitation totals that were much below average.
- Above-average precipitation was observed across parts of the Southwest, Southern Plains, Midwest and Mid-Atlantic. In Arizona, rainfall associated with the seasonal monsoon caused flooding across parts of the state.
- Despite West Virginia having a June statewide precipitation total that only ranked as the 14thwettest, on June 23-24 a series of thunderstorms passed over southern parts of the state dropping upwards of 10 inches of rain on already saturated soils. The rapid rainfall rates across the mountainous terrain caused massive runoff and record flooding in the valley floors. Over 1,500 homes were destroyed and at least 23 fatalities were blamed on the flooding, including 15 in the small town of Rainelle.
- According to the June 28 U.S. Drought Monitor report, 16.2 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, up about 3.5 percent compared to the end of May. Drought conditions worsened across parts of the Southeast, Northwest and Northeast with drought developing in the Northeast and parts of the Upper Midwest and Northern Plains. Drought conditions remain entrenched across much of California.
U.S. climate highlights: year-to-date (January-June)
- Above-average temperatures spanned the nation for the first six months of 2016, with every state being warmer than average. Overall, the contiguous U.S. was the third warmest on record. Thirty-three states across the West, Great Plains, Midwest and Northeast were much warmer than average, while parts of the Southern Plains and Southeast observed above-average temperatures. No state in the contiguous U.S. was record warm.
- Alaska was record warm for the year-to-date with a statewide temperature of 30.4°F, 9.0°F above the 1925-2000 average. This bested the previous record of 27.9°F set in 1981. Record warmth spanned the state. The year-to-date temperature in Anchorage was 40.8°F, 6.8°F above the 1981-2010 normal and 2.2°F higher than the previous record set in 1981.
- Year-to-date precipitation totals across the contiguous U.S. were mixed. Above-average precipitation was observed for parts of the Northwest, Great Plains, Midwest, and Southwest. Below-average precipitation fell in a string of states from the Mid-Mississippi Valley to the Southeast and across the Northeast. No state was record dry or wet for the six-month period, but Connecticut had its ninth driest year-to-date.
- During the first half of 2016, there were eight weather and climate disasters with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the U.S.: two flooding and six severe storm events. A high number of these events impacted Texas throughout the spring — most notably — several intense hail storms overly densely populated cities and the June 17 Houston flood. The first six months of 2016 were well above the 1980-2016 average of 2.8 events, and ranked as the second most behind only 2011 when 10 such events occurred during January-June. The most billion-dollar events in a single year was 16 in 2011. Since 1980 the U.S. has sustained 196 weather and climate disasters where overall damages/costs reached or exceeded $1 billion. Combined, the total cost exceeds $1.1 trillion.
- The U.S. Climate Extremes Index (USCEI) for the year-to-date was 80 percent above average and the fifth highest value on record. On the national scale, extremes in warm maximum and minimum temperatures, the spatial extent of wetness and one-day precipitation totals were much above average. The USCEI is an index that tracks extremes (falling in the upper or lower 10 percent of the record) in land-falling tropical cyclones, temperature, precipitation and drought across the contiguous U.S.
*Note: The year-to-date billion dollar disaster assessment does not include the devastating late-June flooding event in West Virginia, as those losses are still being assessed.
For extended analysis of regional temperature and precipitation patterns, as well as extreme events, please see our full report that will be released on July 12th.
First published in www.ncdc.noaa.gov