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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It looks like NHC will not upgrade 96E as no renumber has occured despite the 2.0 dvorak classification. Maybe they have other data that does not support an upgrade.
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Ah were all just people, who cares about the petty arguments over who agrees with what forecast or whos on what side of AGW, the life away from the blog is the one that matters. When things matter the pettiness drifts away and the caring emerges.
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Quoting 954FtLCane:
you guys at WU truly amaze me. This is a community. I see it more and more everyday.
Kori You have WU mail.
That's why when I'm having a problem I come here to talk to the WU family.It's all about family here.I just love these moments.
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you guys at WU truly amaze me. This is a community. I see it more and more everyday.
Kori You have WU mail.
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237. Ookla
Hey Kori, you can come on over to New Orleans if all else fails. Gay don't phase us.
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Potential culprit?

The lakes are 5C to 8C above normal.

Now that doesn't explain the storm in Minnesota last night, but these storms going across the N. East and down the S. East every day are no doubt being powered by the lakes being off the scales.

I don't know if these are record Great Lakes SST temperatures or not, because I don't follow northern weather as much as tropical, but that sort of anomaly is starting to be just plain insane.

This is way bigger than the anomalies from last year, as I recall. I think this is 2C to 3C larger than last year's anomalies.
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Ah Kori. I wish I knew what to tell you. I'll think on it too and let you know if I come up with anything helpful. Hang in there.
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Quoting Titoxd:


This page should answer your questions:

http://www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/html/stationplot.sht ml


Thank you !! Couldn't figure out the negative number for the life of me.....knew temp and DP were part of it...now just have to figure out which color is which....lol......and the circles are the skycover.....never would have figured that....
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Quoting Sangria:
Since it is kind of slow right now, I wonder if someone can explain all the numbers on the "surface analysis" map.....trying to figure out what the different symbols in the circles mean, and the different "small" numbers....hope this question is not too elementary....Thank you!!!


This page should answer your questions:

http://www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/html/stationplot.sht ml
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Quoting KoritheMan:
I don't often advertise my personal life on here, but I am in an enormous predicament at the moment that I see no way out of.


Hmmm, that is a predicament.
Ill think about it and Wumail u if i come up with anything.
Best of wishes in maneuvering your way through this
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


in my area
we bury all the wires as well
i have an actual hydro vault right in the building with the only access is by hydro repair
its enclosed with a lock steel grate on the outside nw corner of the building
right under my apartment
it has 3 transformers inside which power my building and three others
power never goes in a storm or i should say never has so far


That is the way it is here where my place is. But it can fail with old age and need help. Tree roots can mess with it. They ripped the nice shade tree behind me because it was tweaking the transformer unit and now I lost all my shade but all is good again. We get taken down now and again but it isn't from the weather.
Thanks for posting that Declaration Video from Fox Sports. Seen that one before. Very cool.....
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Since it is kind of slow right now, I wonder if someone can explain all the numbers on the "surface analysis" map.....trying to figure out what the different symbols in the circles mean, and the different "small" numbers....hope this question is not too elementary....Thank you!!!
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


any around the capital?
I remeber on the morning of April 27 last year we had the squall line come through with 80-100mph winds, which i didnt believe because you could barely see the squall line on radar.
But then i went a county or 2 north of me to a college and they had massive oaks down, trees that had stood for 50 years, all over the place.
I remember seeing several trees that took whole front yards with them and several 3ft+ diameter trees.

I am hoping that is not how it was up there, if that line had come through Atlanta, it could have been devastating, but it was mostly rural.
Cant imagine that going through DC.

Ill be up there mainly on sunday, i tried to get my dad to leave today to see the july 4th stuff, but no deal.
I might be back next weekend and the weekend after.
Their are trees on the property and old ones to..I'm sure you'll still see branches down.But they shouldn't have caused any real damage to the building it's self.
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URGENT - IMMEDIATE ISSEMINATION REQUESTED
NEW BLOGGER WATCH NUMBER 1
WUNDERGROUND BLOG CENTER - SAN FRANSISCO CA
130 PM CDT TUE JUL 03 2012


This watch has been suspended until further notice.
Conditions remain favorable for new bloggers
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What would it take for a hurricane to not need and EWRC, is that possible?

What about with 0-5kts shear shear and 32-35CC waters and a good forward motion and perfect symmetry at the moment?

i dont think it is possible but i was wondering what you guys think
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Quoting washingtonian115:
If you drive through memorial bridge on your way into the city or just drive straight through downtown from the highway you might notice some trees down.As for the trees that did survive if we get all of this severe weather with strong thunder storms that could weaken the trees even more and cause them to fall down.So prepare to see llots of trees in your way.as some of these trees around here date back 400 years.


any around the capitol?
I remeber on the morning of April 27 last year we had the squall line come through with 80-100mph winds, which i didnt believe because you could barely see the squall line on radar.
But then i went a county or 2 north of me to a college and they had massive oaks down, trees that had stood for 50 years, all over the place.
I remember seeing several trees that took whole front yards with them and several 3ft diameter trees.

I am hoping that is not how it was up there, if that line had come through Atlanta, it could have been devastating, but it was mostly rural.
Cant imagine that going through DC.

Ill be up there mainly on sunday, i tried to get my dad to leave today to see the july 4th stuff, but no deal.
I might be back next weekend and the weekend after.
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


there better not be trees in my way when i am up there this weekend.
I hope this doesnt do too much, could knock down some trees that almost fell in the last storms
If you drive through memorial bridge on your way into the city or just drive straight through downtown from the highway you might notice some trees down.As for the trees that did survive if we get all of this severe weather with strong thunder storms that could weaken the trees even more and cause them to fall down.So prepare to see llots of trees in your way.as some of these trees around here date back 400 years.
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96E may not have a close low
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Lord help us all!.


there better not be trees in my way when i am up there this weekend.
I hope this doesnt do too much, could knock down some trees that almost fell in the last storms
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96E RGB

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Quoting WxGeekVA:
Uh Oh... Severe on the way, 55MPH gusts being reported already

Lord help us all!.
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It's a done deal now with this Dvorak classification.

03/2345 UTC 10.5N 103.6W T2.0/2.0 96E -- East Pacific
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FPL strung their power lines where ever development occurred in the early days, so there is no rhyme or reason to the power grid in some areas. I been thru 3 hurricanes and never had my power restored in less than 2 weeks.You can be in the middle of a block and your next door neighbor can have power but you are still a week away.So this storm that went thru the country should be a lesson to everyone that anything can and will happen given enough time.Be at least minimally prepared. The government is going to need at least 2-3 days to get into place. Not weather related but have been thru some civil chaos, it still takes the government a few days to show up.
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Uh Oh... Severe on the way, 55MPH gusts being reported already

Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3477
It'll be hot for the forth of July with a high around 98 and more strong storms possible..did I mention that killer humidity will make a return.
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we have undergound lines in some areas, especially in subdivisions, elsewhere they are above ground.
What causes more problems is tornados into high tension lines cause those massive things get mangled to the ground
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Quoting 954FtLCane:

A lot of south fla has above ground powerlibes with the exception of newer developments out in the western suburbs for (for the most part). The cost of moving the above ground lines to under ground would be exorbitant.
Who would be responsible for the cost, the power company or the local counties, municipalities? Just asking.


Given that the guy talking is a state senator from Maryland, the impetus there would be on the state.

In Ohio, where I'm at, it would likely be a deal cut between the state, the state EPA and AEP, Ohio Edison, etc.

It wouldn't happen fast and in a lot of areas it just isn't cost-effective to do it and that doesn't come with any political slant whatsoever. You'll still need lines and polls for street lamps, red lights, etc.
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Quoting 954FtLCane:

A lot of south fla has above ground powerlibes with the exception of newer developments out in the western suburbs for (for the most part). The cost of moving the above ground lines to under ground would be exorbitant.
Who would be responsible for the cost, the power company or the local counties, municipalities? Just asking.
the power company cause in the long term they will save billions in repair/manpower costs from large scale events that cause wide spread destruction also operating main. costs would likly be reduced as well for the system would last longer
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56141
Quoting ncstorm:
Athome..LOL..you got to get better hours..


Lol. You aint lyin'! Husband went on nightshift. I'll be messed up for months now. :)
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I remember after Hurricane Andrew in Miami that The FPL trucks were our saviors..... Many years were forgotten until I moved to PBC and had Hurricanes Francis/ Hurricane Jean when FPL trucks were elevated to Heros; we posted signs and honked and clapped when they came into our area-- it meant the possibility of no more candles , generators, etc... How quickly we got back to business as usual... Before Wilma hit the next year and we knew the social order of those trucks that bore the initials FPL..... We know the time and effort these men n women put into getting communities out of the dark!! We love these people who took great toil to give us back our comforts... I still say thank you.!!!
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Athome..LOL..you got to get better hours..
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Burying electrical systems is on the uptick big time. In many areas it has been done and is the future. Problem is the grid system in America is immense and to make this universal in America it's going to take multiple generations to do it. It's nice to have but most won't be seeing it in their lifetimes. That being the solution to power outages is a long, long way away for most areas.
Member Since: April 18, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 2437
Quoting etxwx:


That's correct and was in a news story posted by AtHomeInTX in the last blog but I can't find it again in all the posts. The crews were from Southeast Texas.
If you scroll past the guitar players here there's a list of some of the utility companies and electric co-ops who have sent help.
Edited to add: There's AtHomeInTx with the story. *waves*


Hey! Lol. Spoke too soon. Yeah there were a lot of posts last blog!
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Quoting roflcopter:


You'd be wrong and you're also missing the point.

He's talking about burying the power lines. That's why I didn't lose power in the storms. It's also why my brother's house DID lose power (and ended up with a power tower in their back yard)....

A lot of south fla has above ground powerlibes with the exception of newer developments out in the western suburbs for (for the most part). The cost of moving the above ground lines to under ground would be exorbitant.
Who would be responsible for the cost, the power company or the local counties, municipalities? Just asking.
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Quoting Titoxd:


I was afraid you would say that. I don't mind paying them the $80 (it's an excellent piece of software, and it is worth the price), but it's Windows-only. Sort of leaves us Mac / Linux users in the dark...


Actually, I understand completely. For several weather programs that run only on Windows, I bought Parallels to run them in OS X. I know, another $80 and a little disappointing to have to jump through more hoops.
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I had a tree fall on my truck.Once the insurance company gets done with your deductable,premium rate increase,adjuster fee,devaluation of the [mint condition] truck due to depressed market value..no way you can replace the vehicle you lost with their miserable payout check
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96E RGB

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198. etxwx
Quoting weblackey:


I believe they are sending help. Can't remember where I read this, but that a lot of large structures damaged in the storms require helicopters to get them into rugged locations, and right now lots of equipment is tied up in the fires in the west.

That may be part of the problem.

If anyone knows more, please add to this, or correct me if I'm misinformed.


That's correct and was in a news story posted by AtHomeInTX in the last blog but I can't find it again in all the posts. The crews were from Southeast Texas.
If you scroll past the guitar players here there's a list of some of the utility companies and electric co-ops who have sent help.

Edited to add: There's AtHomeInTx with the story. *waves*
Member Since: September 4, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1529
Quoting ncstorm:


Im kinda of surprised that other states havent volunteered their utility workers as when we do have a hurricane..has anyone seen any news of that happening?


With hurricanes there is knowledge ahead so that staging can be arranged.

This storm came pretty much out of the blue. Crews had not been put on standby as happens with 'canes.
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Quoting roflcopter:


You'd be wrong and you're also missing the point.

He's talking about burying the power lines. That's why I didn't lose power in the storms. It's also why my brother's house DID lose power (and ended up with a power tower in their back yard)....


in my area
we bury all the wires as well
i have an actual hydro vault right in the building with the only access is by hydro repair
its enclosed with a lock steel grate on the outside nw corner of the building
right under my apartment
it has 3 transformers inside which power my building and three others
power never goes in a storm or i should say never has so far
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56141

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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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