The June 2012 U.S. heat wave: one of the greatest in recorded history

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 7:34 PM GMT on July 03, 2012

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Intense heat continues to bake a large portion of the U.S. this Tuesday, with portions of 17 states under heat advisories for dangerously high temperatures. The heat is particularly dangerous for the 1.4 million people still without power and air conditioning due to Friday's incredible derecho event, which is now being blamed for 23 deaths. The ongoing heat wave is one of the most intense and widespread in U.S. history, according to wunderground's weather historian, Christopher C. Burt. In his Sunday post, The Amazing June Heat Wave of 2012 Part 2: The Midwest and Southeast June 28-30, Mr. Burt documents that eighteen of the 298 locations (6%) that he follows closely because of their long period of record and representation of U.S. climate broke or tied their all-time heat records during the past week, and that "this is especially extraordinary since they have occurred in June rather than July or August when 95% of the previous all-time heat records have been set for this part of the country." The only year with more all-time heat records than 2012 is 1936, when 61 cities of the 298 locations (20%) set all-time heat records. The summer of 1936 was the hottest summer in U.S. history, and July 1936 was the hottest month in U.S. history.

According to wunderground analysis of the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) extremes database, during June 2012, 11% of the country's 777 weather stations with a period of record of a century or more broke or tied all-time heat records for the month of June. Only 1936 (13% of June records broken or tied) and 1988 (12.5%) had a greater number of all-time monthly June records. I expect when NCDC releases their analysis of the June 2012 weather next week, they will rank the month as one of the top five hottest Junes in U.S. history.


Figure 1. Across the entire Continental U.S., 72% of the land area was classified as being in dry or drought conditions as of June 26, 2012. Conditions are not expected to improve much over the summer: the NOAA Climate Prediction Center’s latest drought outlook shows much of the U.S. in persistent drought conditions, with very few areas improving. The rains brought by Tropical Storm Debby did help out Florida and Georgia, however. Image credit: NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory.

The forecast: hot and dry
July is traditionally the hottest month of the year, and July 2012 is likely to set more all-time heat records. The latest predictions from the GFS and ECMWF models show that a ridge of high pressure and dry conditions will dominate the weather over about 80 - 90% of the country during the next two weeks, except for the Pacific Northwest and New England. This will bring wicked hot conditions to most of the nation, but no all-time heat records are likely to fall. However, around July 11, a sharp ridge of high pressure is expected to build in over the Western U.S., bringing the potential for crazy-hot conditions capable of toppling all-time heat records in many western states.

The intense heat and lack of rain, combined with soils that dried out early in the year due to lack of snowfall, have led to widespread areas of moderate to extreme drought over much of the nation's grain growing regions, from Kansas to Indiana. The USDA is reporting steadily deteriorating crop conditions for corn and soybeans, and it is likely that a multi-billion dollar drought disaster is underway in the Midwest.

The wunderground Extremes page has an interactive map that allows one to look at the records for the 298 U.S. cities that Mr. Burt tracks. Click on the "Wunderground U.S. Records" button to see them.

Quiet in the Atlantic
There are no threat areas to discuss in the Atlantic, and none of the reliable computer models are developing a tropical cyclone over the next seven days.

Have a great 4th of July holiday, everyone, and I'll be back Thursday with a new post.

Jeff Masters

Sheep Mountain Ablaze! (turbguy)
The Squirrel Creek Fire spread rapidly last night, and topped the crest of Sheep Mountain as we watched last night. This is a telephoto shot from our west patio. The line of light below the fire is Harmony Wyoming. Sheep mountain is 22 air miles away from us...
Sheep Mountain Ablaze!
Derecho Damage (apphotos)
A woman makes a photograph of Mike Wolfe's pick-up truck as it lies under a fallen tree in front of his house after a severe storm in Falls Church, Va., Saturday, June 30, 2012. Wolfe's daughter Samanth Wolfe created the for sale sign as a joke. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Derecho Damage
Derecho in Catlett (Lokigrins2)
Ground strike reflected off car
Derecho in Catlett
Mink Creek Fire (troxygirl48)
Fire currently burning on mink creek to johnny creek. the fire has claimed 10 house that i know of. My hearts go out to the families.
Mink Creek Fire

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our only alternative is weatherbug.com?  it's not very impressive...
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Happy 4th everyone, Chance of Severe weather and Tornados in New England, besideds NW VT, and Northern Maine.
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Happy independence day.Be very cautious when you go outside today as it's going to be hot.Make sure to work the fireworks properly and safely.
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WTPZ44 KNHC 041433
TCDEP4

TROPICAL DEPRESSION FOUR-E DISCUSSION NUMBER 2
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL EP042012
800 AM PDT WED JUL 04 2012

THE DEPRESSION HAS CHANGED LITTLE SINCE THE PREVIOUS ADVISORY AS THE
CONVECTION REMAINS POORLY ORGANIZED AND SHEARED TO THE SOUTH OF THE
LOW-LEVEL CENTER. NIGHTTIME VISIBLE AND FIRST DAYLIGHT VISIBLE
IMAGERY INDICATE A FEW SMALL SWIRLS HAVE POPPED OUT THE NORTH SIDE
OF THE MAIN CONVECTIVE CLOUD MASS...WHICH HAS MADE LOCATING THE
CENTER SOMEWHAT DIFFICULT THIS MORNING. THE CENTER OF THE
DEPRESSION IS ASSUMED TO BE SOUTH OF THE AFOREMENTIONED LOW-LEVEL
SWIRLS AND JUST INSIDE THE NORTHERN EDGE OF THE CIRRUS CLOUD
SHIELD...WHICH IS CLOSE TO THE PREVIOUS FORECAST TRACK. ALTHOUGH
SATELLITE INTENSITY ESTIMATES ARE A CONSENSUS T2.5/35 KT FROM TAFB
AND SAB...THE INITIAL INTENSITY IS BEING MAINTAINED AT 30 KT BASED
ON THE RAGGED APPEARANCE OF THE OVERALL CLOUD SIGNATURE...PLUS A
T2.0/30 KT UW-CIMSS ADT INTENSITY ESTIMATE.

THE INITIAL MOTION ESTIMATE IS 300/13 KT...BASED ON CONTINUITY WITH
THE PREVIOUS FORECAST TRACK AND RECENT MICROWAVE IMAGERY. THE NHC
MODEL GUIDANCE IS IN EXCELLENT AGREEMENT ON THE CYCLONE MOVING
WEST-NORTHWESTWARD FOR THE NEXT DAY OR TWO. AFTER THAT...THE SYSTEM
IS EXPECTED TO TURN WESTWARD AS IT ENCOUNTERS THE DEEPER EASTWARD
STEERING FLOW OF THE STRONG SUBTROPICAL RIDGE SITUATED TO ITS
NORTH. THE OFFICIAL FORECAST TRACK IS LOCATED ALONG THE SOUTHERN
EDGE OF THE TIGHTLY PACKED MODEL GUIDANCE SUITE AND LIES CLOSE TO
THE CONSENSUS MODEL...TVCN.

THE CYCLONE IS FORECAST TO REMAIN UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF MODERATE
NORTHERLY TO NORTHEASTERLY VERTICAL WIND SHEAR FOR THE NEXT 24
HOURS...WHICH SHOULD ONLY ALLOW FOR GRADUAL INTENSIFICATION. AFTER
THAT...HOWEVER...THE GLOBAL MODELS ARE FORECASTING THE SHEAR TO
WEAKEN CONSIDERABLY...WHICH SHOULD ALLOW FOR MORE SIGNIFICANT
STRENGTHENING TO OCCUR. IN FACT...THE GFS...ECWMF...AND HWRF MODELS
DEVELOP A RATHER ROBUST TROPICAL CYCLONE THROUGH THE 200 MB LEVEL
BY 72 HOURS...AND THE OFFICIAL FORECAST SHOWS THE DEPRESSION
STRENGTHENING INTO A HURRICANE AT THAT TIME BASED UPON THESE MODEL
DEPICTIONS. AFTER THAT...HOWEVER...THE CYCLONE IS EXPECTED TO BE
MOVING OVER SUB-25C SSTS...WHICH SHOULD INDUCE GRADUAL WEAKENING
DESPITE RELATIVELY LOW WIND SHEAR CONDITIONS.

FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INIT 04/1500Z 13.1N 107.1W 30 KT 35 MPH
12H 05/0000Z 13.8N 108.4W 35 KT 40 MPH
24H 05/1200Z 14.4N 110.5W 40 KT 45 MPH
36H 06/0000Z 14.9N 112.4W 45 KT 50 MPH
48H 06/1200Z 15.0N 114.6W 50 KT 60 MPH
72H 07/1200Z 15.1N 118.6W 65 KT 75 MPH
96H 08/1200Z 15.2N 122.6W 60 KT 70 MPH
120H 09/1200Z 15.9N 127.4W 50 KT 60 MPH

$$
FORECASTER STEWART

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Get your daily tropical Atlantic tropical update on my blog...I just posted one...

Happy 4th of July...I am gonna be gone fishin'
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Happy Fourth of July,

Ol Friend.

NATO, TEAMWORK 84..


Oooh rah!
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Quoting AtHomeInTX:


That's funny! We're "unique" I kinda like that. Lol. :)


I think he was being polite. :)
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I remember when Red did that.

It's still as stunning this day too.

Happy 4th of July Doug
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436. etxwx
Quoting K8eCane:
Oh dear Lord, I had NO CLUE this place got 10 million hits a MONTH? With the stupid comments i put on here sometimes?? I shall forever more hide now.


It's really just a thousand of us hitting "refresh" ten thousand times, so no worries. :-)

My favorite part of that NY Times story was this:
"When a reporter asked this very question on Monday, the newly acquired Mr. Steremberg, on a conference call interview with David Kenny, the chairman and chief executive of the Weather Channel Companies, tried to be a good corporate citizen. In what might best be described as aspirational thinking, he began to say, I don't know if anyone hates the Weather Channel."

Mr. Kenny brightly contradicted him. "Oh, they do!" he said."


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That is a great clip Pat.
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Freedom is Everybody's Job,

Red Skelton

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Quoting SrChiefFan1:


Yes we are a community. A WEATHER community. Respect that and discuss your personal and family issues on other blogs please...



9 comments in almost two years and you elect yourself blog cop?


Dude....
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Quoting weatherh98:


id say third week of june when the MJO returns. then, it wont really matter if we have the MJO



You mean 3rd week of July?
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Want to wish everyone a wonderful and safe 4th of July!

Heya Aqua!!
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430. etxwx
One of my favorite 4th of July traditions:
NPR Reads the Declaration of Independence

Happy Independence Day!
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Quoting AtHomeInTX:
Happy 4th Everyone! Stay cool and Enjoy! :D



How did you do that? That is too cool. Gonna be another warm one today hopefully we'll see rain instead of just thunder. It thundered for like 2 hours yesterday, but no rain.

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My Daughter is studying in London for the Summer. I told her to give a warm 4th of July hello to the "Redcoats" today....
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
nice and warm over greenland


Greenland Something Less than Snow White



The following provides detail to a story run by NOAA entitled Greenland Ice Sheet Getting Darker…

Freshly fallen snow under clear skies reflects 84% (albedo= 0.84) of the sunlight falling on it (Konzelmann and Ohmura, 1995). This reflectivity progressively reduces during the sunlit (warm) season as a consequence of ice grain growth, resulting in a self-amplifying albedo decrease, a positive feedback. Another amplifier; the complete melting of the winter snow accumulation on glaciers, sea ice, and the low elevations of ice sheets exposes darker underlying solid ice. The albedo of low-impurity snow-free glacier ice is in the range of 30% to 60% (Cuffey and Paterson, 2010). Where wind-blown-in and microbiological impurities accumulate near the glacier ice surface (Bøggild et al. 2010), the ice sheet albedo may be extremely low (20%) (Cuffey and Paterson, 2010). Thus, summer albedo variability exceeds 50% over parts of the ice sheet where a snow layer ablates by mid-summer, exposing an impurity-rich ice surface (Wientjes and Oerlemans, 2010), resulting in absorbed sunlight being the largest source of energy for melting during summer and explaining most of the inter-annual variability in melt totals (van den Broeke et al. 2008, 2011).

The photo below shows how dark the ice sheet surface can become in the lowest ~1000 m elevation in the “ablation area” after the winter snow melts away and leaves behind an impurity-rich surface. This dark area is where the albedo feedback with melting is strongest.


Satellite observations from the NASA Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) indicate a significant Greenland ice sheet albedo decline (-5.6±0.7%) in the June-August period over the 12 melt seasons spanning 2000-2011. According to linear regression, the ablation area albedo declined from 71.5% in 2000 to 63.2% in 2011 (time correlation = -0.805, 1-p=0.999). The change (-8.3%) is more than two times the absolute albedo RMS error (3.1%). Over the accumulation area, the highly linear (time correlation = -0.927, 1-p>0.999) decline from 81.7% to 76.6% over the same period also exceeds the absolute albedo RMS error.




NOAA Climate Watch:

According to Jason Box, the lead author of the Greenland chapter of the 2011 Arctic Report Card and the analyst of the reflectiveness data, the darkening in the interior is just as remarkable than the changes at the margins. The interior is the high-point of the dome-shaped ice sheet, rising to nearly two miles above sea level. There is no visible melting there in the summer, so why is the area becoming darker?



The darkening in the non-melting areas, says Dr. Box, is due to changes in the shape and size of the ice crystals in the snowpack as its temperature rises. Snow grains clump together, and they reflect less light than the many-faceted, smaller crystals. Additional heat rounds the sharp edges of the crystals. Round particles absorb more sunlight than jagged ones do.

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O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
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Oh dear Lord, I had NO CLUE this place got 10 million hits a MONTH? With the stupid comments i put on here sometimes?? I shall forever more hide now.
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Guess everybody is sleeping or cooking or getting ready to cook....

Enjoy your Independence Day, all you 'Merican bloggers out there! Have a great day!

;o)
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Pre Emilia is slowly organizing.

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nice and warm over greenland
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Happy 4th of July folks. E-Pac is very active and the Atlantic side is quiet today. This is part of the observed inverse relationship between the E-Pac and Atlantic basin tropical storm activity when both seasons overlap. A link to Klotzbach's paper on this relationship is included below.

We might not see any Atlantic storms for several weeks until the E-Pac dies down and this is normal for July climatology.........We could get one storm in the Atlantic by the end of July, or, nothing until we get into August and the Cape Verde waves start to develop heading towards mid-August. Patience........

Link
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


Forgive me, but who bit you wrong? While Korthie's preferences may not be of relevance to the blog, we're a community. Learn to respect that.


Yes we are a community. A WEATHER community. Respect that and discuss your personal and family issues on other blogs please...
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Dvorak intensity estimates from NESDIS' Satellite Analysis Branch support a 35 knot (40 mph) initial intensity for Tropical Depression Four-E at 11AM EDT/8AM PDT.

Happy Independence Day!
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Quoting Sangria:
From the New York Times...

Fans Howl After Weather Site Buys Out Rival
By JOHN SCHWARTZ and BRIAN STELTER
Published: July 3, 2012

Link


That's funny! We're "unique" I kinda like that. Lol. :)
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A small but vocal minority of people, he said glumly, are resistant to change in general. They should know, he said, that change is inevitable.

If nothing else, the weather teaches us that much.


and I may add, "People" as well.

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Quoting weatherh98:


id say third week of june when the MJO returns. then, it wont really matter if we have the MJO


I'm sure you meant, third week of july, and I agree
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Quoting islander101010:
what.was.the.last.major.to.hit.the.central.miami. ar ea?
landfall.KING.back.in.1950....http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki /List_of_Florida_hurricanes#1975.E2.80.93199....lo ts.of.3rs&4s.nearby&cat5.andrew.landfall.homestead
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From the New York Times...

Fans Howl After Weather Site Buys Out Rival
By JOHN SCHWARTZ and BRIAN STELTER
Published: July 3, 2012

Link
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Happy 4th Everyone! Stay cool and Enjoy! :D

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Still a TD per 12z Best Track.

EP, 04, 2012070412, , BEST, 0, 128N, 1065W, 30, 1006, TD
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Quoting PensacolaDoug:



I believe the ATL basin will be quiet untill the 3rd week of Aug or so....After that, business as usual. As always, I could be very wrong!


id say third week of june when the MJO returns. then, it wont really matter if we have the MJO
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happy independence day!
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Happy Birthday America


The heat continues!! We are stuck!
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Happy Independence Day everyone!


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Quoting GainesvilleGator:
The tropics were pretty dead last July with the dry sinking air from the heatwave centered over Texas. Until the heat wave breaks, expect dry sinking air over the GOM & Western Atlantic. On the flip side, the SSTs should spike up.



I believe the ATL basin will be quiet untill the 3rd week of Aug or so....After that, business as usual. As always, I could be very wrong!
Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 670
Good morning and happy 4th. Looks like all is relatively calm but another hot one around the country.
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what.was.the.last.major.to.hit.the.central.miami.ar ea?
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wgn.said.it.was.the.hottest.6.months.ever.in.chicag o
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96E -

ASCAT & OSCAT - missed it

WINDSAT/descending 4Jul 0703UTC got it - doesn't look like winds over 38 knots - so may be why a TD until they get a hit otherwise.
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The tropics were pretty dead last July with the dry sinking air from the heatwave centered over Texas. Until the heat wave breaks, expect dry sinking air over the GOM & Western Atlantic. On the flip side, the SSTs should spike up.
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The comments are very telling in this related New York Times article. Link
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The sell-out, oops I meant buy-out made the New York Times!Link
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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