Weather Extremes

Incredible Heat Wave in China, Greenland Record

By: weatherhistorian, 9:17 PM GMT on July 31, 2013

Incredible Heat Wave in China, Greenland Record

While a lot of attention (justified) has been spent on the record heat in Siberia and Europe this past month, the actual big story so far this summer is the heat wave in eastern China. This July will go down as the hottest ever measured for places like Shanghai, Changsha, and Hangzhou. Records for Shanghai date back to 1873 and no such heat has ever been observed there or in much of Eastern China. BREAKING NEWS: Greenland has just reported its warmest temperature on record.

The provinces most affected by the heat this past July are Anhui, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Hunan, Jiangxi and, of course, Shanghai. The population of these five provinces is about 314 million, more than the population of the entire United States.



Map outlining the provinces of China. Anhui, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Hunan, Jiangxi and, Shanghai have been most affected by the heat wave.

The core of the heat has been centered over Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province, and China’s 4th largest metropolitan area with about 21.1 million residents. The average July temperature for Hangzhou (records begin in 1956) is 28.9°C (84.1°F) with an average high of 33.0°C (91.4°F) and low of 24.9°C (76.8°F). This past July has averaged 32.4°C (90.3°F), some 3.5°C (6.2°F) above normal, and by far the warmest single month on record for the city. An all-time absolute maximum temperature of 40.5°C (104.9°F) was set on both July 30th and July 27th. The previous record was 40.3°C (104.5°F) set on August 1, 2003 (there is a mistaken figure of 42.2°C/108.0°F from July 6, 1960 that has proven to be a clerical error). What is astonishing is that there were SIX days in July that measured 40°C (104°F) or warmer and, prior to this July, 40°+ has only been measured twice in the city’s weather history (records began in 1956)—both during the summer of 2003. At least 10 deaths have been directly attributed to the heat wave although the actual figure is probably much higher if one were to look at mortality rates relative to normal for the past month.



Climate table for Hangzhou, China July 2013. Note the lowest temperature for the month was just 25.0°C (77.0°F), that should be the average low for every day in a typical July. Also note how dry it has been with just 9.4mm (0.38") versus an normal July precipitation of about 167mm (6.70"). The lack of any tropical storm activity is the reason for this. OGIMET.

Shanghai has also broken its all-time record high with a 40.6°C (105.1°F) on Friday July 26th. They had a daily minimum of just 31.3°C (88.3°F) on July 30th. The temperature reached or exceeded 35°C (95°F) for 25 days of the month. Like Hangzhou, this past July has been the warmest month on record for Shanghai (where climate data began in 1873).

In fact, it is likely that this July has been the warmest on record for virtually every site in the eastern Chinese provinces listed above. Ningbo City, located on the coastline east of Hangzhou reached 42.7°C (108.9°F) on July 26th, the warmest temperature ever measured at any coastal location in Eastern or Southeastern Asia. Numerous, too many to list, other cities have reported all-time record maximum temperatures and warmest month on record.



The heat wave has been a boon to China’s beach resorts, as can bee seen in this photo above taken in Dalian on July 21st. Photo from Global News.

Keep in mind that the July climate for this region would be similar to that of the Washington D.C. area except more humid, since the Yellow Sea has very high SST’s during the summer. Normally, typhoons would be making occasional landfalls along the central coast this time of year and bring relief to the brutal heat. That has not been the case this summer and, along with the heat, drought conditions have developed.

The heat is continuing unabated and, in fact, is predicted to intensify and spread north and west this coming week.

BREAKING NEWS: Greenland has just measured its hottest temperature on record July 30th with a reading of 25.9°C (78.6°F) at Maniitoq Mittarfia during a foehn event. The previous Greenland record was 25.5°C (77.9°F) at Kangerlussuaq on July 27, 1990.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Extreme Weather Heat

Updated: 11:39 PM GMT on July 31, 2013

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Wild Weather Around the World

By: weatherhistorian, 8:32 PM GMT on July 29, 2013

Wild Weather Around the World

It has been a wild weekend weather-wise around the world. Record rainfall in Philadelphia, record cold in the Midwest, record heat in eastern China, Japan, and Europe where violent storms produced tornadoes and waterspouts.

Philadelphia Freak Rainstorm

An all-time 24-hour and calendar day rainfall record was set on Sunday July 28th in Philadelphia where 8.26” was measured in just 12 hours between 3 p.m. July 28 and 3 a.m. July 29th. Of this 8.02” fell on July 28th surpassing the previous calendar day rainfall record of 6.63” on September 16, 1999 during the passage of Hurricane Floyd. The previous 24-hour precipitation record was also associated with Floyd with a 6.77” accumulation September 15-16.



METARS for Philadelphia International Airport (site of the official NWS Philadelphia reporting station) from 2:54 p.m July 28 to 4:54 a.m. July 29. Note how an incredible 7.35” of the rainfall occurred in just the four hours between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The storm was very local with the most intense cell just sitting right over the airport for hours on end. No other sites in the region recorded anything even close to the International Airport observation. The Northeast Philadelphia Airport, located just 18 miles northeast of the International Airport picked up a total of just .64”. Wilmington, Delaware, just 20 miles southwest of the airport measured a storm total of 1.72”. A site south of Wilmington, Blackbird, recorded the greatest amount aside from Philadelphia Int’l Airport, with a 3.34” total. Pennsauken, New Jersey located just across the Delaware River and a few mils northeast of the airport reported 2.60”, the most of any site in the greater Philadelphia region (aside from Philadelphia International Airport of course).



Highway flooding was reported throughout the Philadelphia area Sunday afternoon resulting in one fatal automobile accident. The above photo shows a flooded underpass along Rt. 130 in Pennsauken, New Jersey where 2.60” of rain fell. Photo by Jen Dent.

The freak rainstorm has boosted Philadelphia’s monthly rainfall for July to 13.24”, the 2nd highest monthly amount in modern records (since 1872). The wettest month on record remains 19.31” in August 2011. September 1999 (when Floyd hit) has now become the 3rd wettest month with a total of 13.07”. Looking at older records (precipitation data for Philadelphia goes back to 1820) August 1867 saw 15.82” of rainfall. Needless to say, this July is now the wettest July on record (in old or modern times) surpassing the previous July record of 10.42” in 1994.

Record heat in China and Japan

Shanghai, largest city in China (and in the top ten of the world with 22,265,000 urban residents), recorded its hottest temperature on record July 25th with a reading of 40.6°C (105.1°F). Records go back 140 years (to 1873) here. The previous record was 40.2°C (104.4°F) during the summer of 1934. It has also been the warmest July on record (so far) with 23 days (out of 28) reporting temperatures at or above 35°C (95°F). To make matters worse, the humidity in Shanghai is very high during the summers, remaining above 50% most days. The nights have been unbearable with some overnight lows as warm as 31°C (87.8°F). Shanghai’s neighboring province of Zhejiang and the central province of Hunan have also been experiencing record heat this month. Changsha, the provincial capital of Hunan, has reported temperatures over 35°C (95°F) every single day of the month so far. All-time record maximum temperatures have also been reported in Fuyang with 41.1°C (106.0°F) and Bozhou with 42.1°C (107.8°F).



Everyday of the month has reached 35°C (95°F) at Changsha, China so far this July. The normal temperature range for the city in July is 25°C-33°C (77°F-91°F). Note that the ‘coolest’ night during the past month so far has been a balmy 26.5°C (79.8°F) on July 7th. Also take note of the hourly average humidity for the site. This implies that the heat index has probably been well in excess of 40°C (104°F) everyday. OGIMET table.

Extreme heat has also prevailed in parts of Japan where the city of Katsunuma reached 39.3°C (102.7°F) one day this July, a bit short of the all-time national heat record for Japan of 40.9°C (105.6°F) set at Tajima and Kumagaya on August 16, 2007.

Hot in Europe with severe storms

The heat wave that swept across portions of central Europe this past weekend did not quite reach the historic dimensions that some forecast but was strong enough to set some all-time heat records nevertheless. It is also ongoing and extreme heat is being forecast for the coming weekend. So far, the most notable temperatures have been in Austria where it was 38.6°C (101.5°F) on July 28th in Salzburg, Austria, a city and state all-time record. Elsewhere in Austria 39.2°C (102.6°F) was measured at both Waidhofen and Bad Goisern. These were very close to matching the all-time national heat record for Austria: 39.7°C (103.4°F) at Dellach in Drautal on July 27, 1983. Liechtenstein also came within just a few decimals of setting their hottest temperature on record which remains 37.4°C (99.3°F) at Ruggel during the famous August heat wave of 2003. The warmest temperature measured in Germany this weekend was 38.1°C (100.6°F) at Rheinstetten. Basil, Switzerland saw temperatures as high as 38°C (100.4°F) and Zurich 35.8°C (96.4°F). On Sunday (July 28th) the Czech Republic saw temperatures as high was 38.7°C (101.7°F) at Doksany. This was not a record for Doksany (that occurred last summer with a 39.4°C/102.9°F reading on August 20th) but seven other sites did break their all-time heat records (and one tied such) elsewhere in the country. The national heat record for the Czech Republic is 40.4°C (104.7°F) set at Dobrichovice on August 20, 2012.

Severe thunderstorms have followed the heat wave in France, Germany, and Italy. Late reports suggest hail up to 9 cm (3 ½”) have fallen in Germany and several tornado and waterspout reports have come in from Italy. I’ll blog more about these on Wednesday when all the facts become clearer.



A rotating super cell thunderstorm in the Loiret region of France on July 26th taken by a French storm chaser. Photo by Xavier Delorme.

Big chill in the Great Lakes region and Midwest

Temperatures fell close to freezing this morning (July 29th) in Minnesota and a rare July frost warning was posted. The minimum temperature fell to 35°F (1.6°C) at International Falls and Embarrass, Minnesota. This is still a long way from the coldest July temperature ever measured in Minnesota which was 24°F (-4.4°C) set at Tower in July 1997. Wisconsin saw a low of 38° at Manitow and even in Iowa it got as cool as 43° at three different locations. On the Upper Peninsula of Michigan the temperature fell to 39° at Ironwood. Houghton had a high of 52° on Sunday with a chilly .84" of rainfall. Watton, Michigan had a high of just 50°. Numerous daily record lows and daily record low maximums were set across the entire Great Lakes and Midwest region (too many to list!) but no significant July cold records (minimum temperatures) have been set so far.

I’ll have updates on the various heat waves (and cold wave in the U.S. Midwest) and storms in Europe on Wednesday.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Extreme Weather Heat Precipitation Records

Updated: 5:59 AM GMT on July 30, 2013

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Cold Snap hits southern South America. UPDATE: my 'big fish' story!;-)

By: weatherhistorian, 9:10 PM GMT on July 26, 2013

Cold Snap hits southern South America. UPDATE: (and 'Big Fish in Living Room' story!)

It has been a wild week for temperature extremes with the amazing heat wave in north central Siberia juxtaposed with an unusual cold spell in portions of Brazil, Bolivia, and Argentina occurring simultaneously almost exactly opposite one another on the planet. Scroll down to end of blog for my fishy story! It actually has some context considering the amazing rainfall record set at Chantaburi, Thailand this past week.

South American cold snap

Between 20-25th July a mass of very cold air suddenly froze a large area of southern South America (where temperatures had been running above average for weeks prior to the abrupt change).

Snow was recorded for the first time since 1996 at Catamarca, Argentina (28°S and located at about 500m/1,650’), and cold rain (temperatures of 5-6C/41°-43°F) at sea level altitudes like Florianopolis, Brazil. Montevideo, Uruguay also experienced rain with temperatures as low as 3C (37°F). The town of Campos Novos, Brazil (at an elevation of 947m/3,100’) had a high temperature of just 3.6°C (38.5°F) and low of -2.7°C (27.1°F) on July 23rd, a daily average of almost freezing (0.9°C/32.8°F). There was no precipitation at the site that day, if so it probably would have been snow. In fact, a little snow was reported in Brazil in the hills above nearby Curitiba for the first time since 1975.



Snowfall in the mountainous region of Santa Catarina, Brazil is not so unusual. Above is an image of a deep snowfall near Rio Grande do Sul during the cold wave of July-August 2010. Ironically, this occurred at the same time as the famous Moscow heat wave of that summer, a somewhat similar situation as is now occurring. Photographer not identified.

There were incredible temperature contrasts in Bolivia (which isn’t unusual given the complex Andean topography) but what was unusual was that it was actually colder at the low elevations in the Amazonian jungle than in the higher mountainous terrain of the country: temperatures at Bolivian locations above 4000m (13,000’) on 23 July were higher than those in the Bolivian portions of the Amazon jungle at low elevations. For instance, the temperature at Reyes (located at 14°S and 140m/462’ elevation) had a maximum of 9.3C/48.8°F while at El Alto Airport, La Paz (elevation 4,000m/13,200’) the temperature maximum reached 13.9°C (57°F). Temperatures in the Chaco region of Bolivia were remarkably chilly with a reading of -5.8°C (21.6°F) observed at Villamontes.

Some places in the middle of the Andes, protected by mountains on all sides, like Cochabamba didn't experience a single degree drop in temperature, while low areas experienced drops as high as 22-25°C (40-45F) in 24 hours. In Paraguay sleet was recorded in Itapua and the minimum temperature reached -5.2C (21.6°F) at Prats Gill on 24th, not far from the all-time national record of -7.5C (18.5°F) (also set in Prats Gil) on July 13, 2000

The cold air actually filtered as far north as the western part of the Amazon jungle near the Equator, with 7°C (44.6°F) at Rio Branco, Brazil (10°S latitude) and 16°C (60.8°F) at Leticia, Colombia (4°S latitude). Both are low-level sites in the Amazon Basin.

The most exceptional cold wave, in regard to how north cool air has ever penetrated, was that of July 1975 when air of polar origin reached the Caribbean affecting the whole of South America (including the extreme western part of Amazon in Peru, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, the Guyanas, and even Trinidad and Tobago. Unlike other cold waves (such as those of 1955, 1973 and 2010) the July 1975 event didn't stop south of the Equator, but continued well into the Northern Hemisphere. This remains unique and the only documented occurrence of such an event. The surface high pressure reached 1044 hPa (30.82”) over central South America on July 15, 1975, the highest yet measured (modern records) on the continent (REF: Markgraf, Vera Interhemispheric Climate Linkages p. 37)




500 mb MAP

Surface air temperature anomaly for the week of July 19-24 (top map) and 500 mb height anomalies for the same period (bottom). Note how the cold air over South America is almost exactly on the opposite side of the world from the heat dome over north central Siberia. NCEP/NCAR maps, courtesy of Stu Ostro.

The cold snap this past week was caused by a strong upper-level low centered over the southern third of the continent. Curiously, it has been unusually mild over the portions of Antarctica opposite South America with a high of 7.8C (46.0°F) being recorded at Base Esperanza (63°S), higher than the normal summer average maximum and just 1.5°C less than the Amazonian maximum of Reyes in Bolivia at 14°S latitude!

Meanwhile on the other side of the world…

The unrelenting heat wave in north central Siberia continues with Svetlogorsk (on the Arctic Circle) recording its 13th consecutive day (as of July 26) with temperatures above 30°C (86°F). Meanwhile, all eyes are turning to Western Europe where a potentially historic heat wave is expected to develop this weekend and continue into next week! There is a chance that some all-time national heat records may fall in some countries like Germany, Liechtenstein, Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Hungary when all is said and done.

Phenomenal Rainstorm in Thailand

On a side note, a historic rainstorm has caused serious flooding in portions of southeastern Thailand. Chantaburi picked up 445.7mm (17.55”) of rain on July 23rd with an amazing 385mm (15.16”) of this falling in just 12 hours and an even more amazing 297 mm (11.69”) in just 6 hours! This may be one of the (if not the) heaviest 24-hour rainfall on record for Thailand (previous record was 414.8mm (16.33”) at Ko Samui on March 28, 2011. A famous flood in Bangkok occurred on May 9-10, 1986 when 401.1 mm (15.79”) of rain fell in just 8 hours. The ensuing floods almost cost the mayor (Chamlong) his job.

My 'fish story'

I lived a few blocks from the Bangkok Met office at the time (during the storm of 1986) on Soi 49 Sukhumvit Rd. and caught a 15" fish that swam through a break in the screen porch door off my living room which flooded about half a meter deep at one point. My girlfriend at the time and I trapped the sucker hiding under the water-logged couch in the living room. We grilled it later that same day (after the water receded) and it was delicious (no idea what kind of fish it was). I think I must be one of the only people who have caught a large live fish swimming around their living room and then cooked it in their kitchen just 10 feet away hours later :-). I'd love to hear from other WU friends if they have had a similar experience!



METARS for Chantaburi, Thailand July 22-23 when a peak 24-hour rainfall amount of 445.7 mm (17.55”) accumulated, a possible national record. Flooding continues as more rain has since fallen over this region of southeastern Thailand. From OGIMET.

KUDOS: Thanks to Maximiliano Herrera for much of the above information about the cold wave in South America.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Extreme Weather Cold

Updated: 5:54 PM GMT on July 28, 2013

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UPDATE 7/24: Heat Wave Continues in Siberia

By: weatherhistorian, 7:54 PM GMT on July 22, 2013

UPDATE July 24th: Heat Wave continues in Siberia

The extraordinary and perhaps unprecedented heat wave continues in the central arctic region of Russia. Some locations have now endured 10 consecutive days above 30°C (86°F). Wildfires are erupting in the taiga forests (see more about this in the comments section following this blog). Norilsk maximum daily temperatures have cooled down a little, but yesterday (July 23rd) it enjoyed its warmest night so far with a low of 20.2°C (68.4°F).

Norilsk, with a population of 175,000, is located at 69° 20’N and 88° 6’E and is the most northerly city in the world with a population over 100,000.



Norilsk is a large city of some 175,000 located in the Arctic region of central Russia near 70° N latitude. It is the largest, most northerly city in the world. Photo by Mikhail Shlemov.



It has long been a mining center (and gulag during the Stalin years) located in the far northeast of Russia’s Krasnoyarsk Krai Region. For the past week temperatures have been running as much as 10-15°C above normal throughout the central arctic region of Russia. The 32.0°C (89.6°F) measured at Norilsk on July 21st would appear to be short of the city's warmest temperature on record which was 32.2°C (90°F) on two previous occasions.



Monthly climate data for Norilsk, Russia. Weatherbase on Wikapedia.com. However, the POR for this data may be just for the past 30 years and other sources say the city has seen temperatures as warm as 32.2°C in the past.



Weather data for the past month at Norilsk as of July 23rd (the date on the table is observation date for previous 24 hours). Note the minimum temperature of 20.2°C (68.4°F) on July 23rd! OGIMET data.

Svetlogorsk, just above the Arctic Circle at 66° 56'N, has now endure an astonishing 10 consecutive days above 30°C (86°F) as of July 23rd and had a run of three consecutive days above 90°F (32.2°C).




Weather data for the past month at Svetlogorsk located just about on the Arctic Circle (at 66° 50'N and 88° 24'E in the Krasnoyarsk Krai region like Norilsk). Note the amazing endurance of this heat event. The complete METARS data was missing for the July 14th observations but at 6 a.m. UTC (about 10 or 11 a.m. local time) it was 27°C (80.5°F), so the high for that day was probably around 28-29°C (83°-85°F). The normal daily high temperatures for this site the last half of July are around 20°C (68°F). OGIMET data.


The prolonged heat wave is the result of an amazingly intense and prolonged heat dome that has centered itself over north central Siberia. The anomalous temperature heights are some 2-3 sigmas above normal.



500 mb heights and anomaly map for July 21st when the hat dome was at its strongest. Thanks to Stu Ostro who submitted this graphic in one of his comments on an earlier version of this blog.

Hottest temperatures ever measured so far north?

It remains unclear whether or not any all-time records have been broken at any sites in Russia the past few weeks or if these are the highest temperatures ever observed at so northerly a latitude. The warmest temperature in the region I have been able to view so far was a 34.2°C (93.6°F) at Korliki on July 17th. This site, however, is located at just 61° 32'N. According to OGIMET the temperature reached 34.0°C (93.2°F) at Snezhnogorsk and Igarka on July 21st , both sites just a bit south of Norilsk. Snezhnogorsk is located at 68° 6'N and 87° 46'E and Igarka at 67° 28'N, 86° 34'E. These sites are just a bit south of the latitude of Umiat, Alaska (at 69° 22' N) where a maximum of 92°F (33.3°C) has been recorded in the past. There is a temperature reading of 36.7°C (98.1°F) in July 1979 reported from Hatanga, Russia which rests at 71° 58'N (about 400 miles northeast of Norilsk). This is a very anomalous reading and may have been the result of a foen-like wind event (down sloping wind heated by compression, like Santa Ana winds in the U.S.). IF the figure is accurate, then this would be, by far, the warmest temperature ever measured on earth at such a northerly latitude.

This Russian Arctic heat wave is still on going and I’ll post updates if necessary.

KUDOS: Thanks to Maximiliano Herrera for bringing the heat wave in central arctic Russia to my attention.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Extreme Weather Heat Mini Blog

Updated: 12:09 AM GMT on July 25, 2013

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Steamy Nights in the Big Apple: UPDATE 7/20

By: weatherhistorian, 7:56 PM GMT on July 18, 2013

Steamy Nights in the Big Apple: UPDATE July 20th

Temperatures in New York City bottomed out at 81° on Saturday July 20th, the third consecutive day above 80° and possibly breaking or tying the record for such. On Friday morning (July 19) the minimum fell to just 83° in Central Park (1° short of the all-time record) and 86° at La Guardia Airport (tying their record). Cooler air is now filtering into the region and the heat wave should break on Sunday.


The official Central Park site in Manhattan fell to just 83° Friday morning (July 19th) just short of the all-time warmest low temperature of 84° set on July 22, 2011. At La Guardia Airport in Queens the minimum was 86°, tying their all-time record of 86° also set on August 2, 2006. Bridgeport, Connecticut tied their all-time record low maximum temperature with 80° (previously seen on July 4, 2002). The city is enduring its 7th consecutive day with 90°+ temperatures and 3rd consecutive day with minimum temperatures remaining above 80°. I'm not sure if this is a record for the site but am confident it at least ties such. This has been the first 7-day stretch of 90°+ temperatures since a 9-day stretch August 11-19, 2002. The longest 90°+ period in the city’s history was 12 days from August 24-September 4, 1953. So far this month Central Park has averaged 81.7° (through July 20th) and thus has a shot of besting its warmest single month on record of 81.4° in July 1999. However, cooler air is expected to overrun the region by Sunday and another big heat wave does not appear to be on the horizon at this time, so it is unlikely the 1999 figure will be topped.

Heat indices have hovered around 105° for much of the NYC and Philadelphia area with some 110°s being reported at local amateur weather stations although the official site at Dover, Delaware had a heat index of 110° at their 1 p.m. observation time (93° with 78° dew point: 63% humidity) on July 18th.



METARS for New York's Central Park official site as of mid-afternoon Friday July 19th. The minimum of 83° was just 1° short of the warmest low on record of 84° set on July 22, 2011. NWS-New York City web site.

A large swath of the nation is enduring 90°+ heat this Thursday although no truly extreme temperatures are being reported from anywhere. For the most part the heat wave is fairly typical of what one might expect in mid-July east of the Mississippi River.



Temperature map for 5 p.m. EST on July 18th. 90° temperatures stretch from Montana to New Hampsire and southward. UCAR map.



The oppressive heat is being caused by a near-record warm dome of air over the eastern third of the country as seen in this map of 500 mb-level temps. The surface maximum temperatures would be hotter than what we have seen so far if drought conditions rather than flooding rains had preceded the heat wave. Map from Washington Post Capital Weather Gang.


Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Extreme Weather Heat Mini Blog

Updated: 7:34 AM GMT on July 21, 2013

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June 2013 Global Weather Extremes Summary

By: weatherhistorian, 9:52 PM GMT on July 15, 2013

June 2013 Global Weather Extremes Summary

June featured the deadliest monsoon-related flood in recent history for India, as well as devastating floods in Canada and Germany. A record-breaking heat wave affected the interior southwest of the U.S. and also in Alaska. The Atlantic tropical storm season got off to an early start with two named storms. Fires in Sumatra, Indonesia blanketed Malaysia and Singapore under a pall of smoke while deadly wildfires in Arizona and Colorado took the lives of 21 including 19 fire fighters.

Below is a summary of some of the month’s highlights.

NORTH AMERICA

The biggest weather-related news story of the month in the U.S. was a prolonged heat wave in the Southwest and two devastating wild fires, one near Yarnell, Arizona (June 30th) and the other near Colorado Springs, Colorado (June 11-20). The Yarnell fire resulted in the tragic loss of 19 firefighters, the deadliest wild fire event for U.S. firefighters in 80 years. Over 120 homes in the town were also destroyed.



A fire fighting tanker jet drops fire retardant on the Yarnell, Arizona blaze on June 30th. The fire killed 19 fire fighters. Photo by Tom Story, The Arizona Republic newspaper.

The most devastating wild fire in Colorado history burned 500 homes and resulted in two deaths. Both fires could, in part, be blamed on a prolonged period of record heat and dryness in the region. Las Vegas, Nevada tied its hottest official temperature on record with a 117°F (47.2°C) reading on June 30th. Death Valley, California hit 129°F (53.9°C) on June 30th, the warmest temperature measured on earth for the month, and tying its warmest temperature ever recorded in modern records.



The maximum thermometer at Furnace Creek, Death Valley peaked at 129.2°F (54°C) on June 30th, perhaps the hottest reliably measured temperature on earth. Photo courtesy of the Death Valley National Park Service and NWS-Las Vegas.

Salt Lake City, Utah measured no precipitation during June for only the 3rd time (the previous times were last June in 2012 and also in 1948). It was the driest June on record for the state of Utah as a whole. Alaska experienced record-breaking heat mid-month with all-time records being broken at Talkeetna (96°F/35.6°C) and McGrath (94°F/34.4°C) on June 17th. The month was the state’s 4th warmest June on record. Northern Canada also was affected with Cape Perry, Northwest Territory recording its warmest temperature on record with a 24.1°C (75.4°F) reading.

In contrast to the Southwest, the Northeast was exceptionally wet with New Jersey and Delaware experiencing their wettest Junes since at least 1894. Below are the state-by-state rankings for temperature and precipitation during June:





Maps of the June temperature and precipitation rankings state-by-state for June. NCDC/NOAA.

Heavy rainfall pounded the Calgary, Alberta, Canada region on June 18-21 causing the worst flood in the city’s history. A full report on this epic flood may be found in this blog I wrote after the event. A rare measurable snowfall occurred on June 4th in Quebec where 2-5 cm (1-2”) accumulated at Matagami.

The coldest temperature in the northern hemisphere during this past June was a reading of -29.8°C (-21.6°F) at Summit, Greenland on June 2nd.

SOUTH AMERICA and CENTRAL AMERICA

The warmest temperature measured in the southern hemisphere during June was 38.4°C (101.1°F) at Porto Nacional, Brazil on June 30th.

EUROPE

The worst flooding in 500 years affected portions of southern Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary following a week of torrential rainfall in late May and early June causing the Elbe and Danube Rivers (among others) to overflow their banks. Damage from the floods has been estimated to be in excess of 3 billion Euros ($4 billion dollars). Jeff Masters wrote this extensive summary of the historic event.



Flooding on the Danube River at the town of Passau, Bavaria, Germany (on the border of Austria) on June 5th. It was the worst flood in over 500 years at this site. Photo by Armin Weigel/EPA.

The floods were followed by a brief but intense heat wave that saw temperatures climb to 37°C (98.6°F) in Germany as well as Prague and Budapest. A June national record for heat was set in Austria where a reading of 38.6°C (101.5°F) was recorded at Waidhofen an der Ybbs on June 20th.

The United Kingdom had a largely uneventful month with near average temperatures and precipitation. The warmest reading measured was 27.2°C (81.0°F) at Heathrow Airport (London area) on June 30th and the coolest -1.1° (30.0°F) at Tulloch Bridge, Highland on June 1st. The greatest 24-hour precipitation amount was 39.8 mm (1.57”) at Ballypatrick Forest, County Antrim on June 13-14.

AFRICA

It was exceptionally hot in North Africa during June with Dongalla, Sudan peaking at 49.2°C (120.6°F) on June 3rd, just 0.5°C (0.9°F) from its all-time record. Bagaria, Egypt reached 48.7°C (119.7°F) on June 2nd, its all-time heat record for any month. Faya Largeau in Chad most likely broke the Chad national record for heat on June 4th when the temperature came within just a few decimals of the record 47.6°C (117.7°F) set on June 22, 2010, however its met station lost data after 1 p.m.

ASIA

By far the biggest weather story of the month worldwide was the devastating flood the hit the Indian Himalayan state of Uttarkhand in mid-June. Reports of up to 568 mm (22.36”) of rain over a 45-hour period June 14-16 caused the mountain rivers to overflow their banks and wash away entire villages. It would appear that at least 5,000 people perished. Jeff Masters has just posted a detailed blog on the event.



A submerged image of the Hindu idol Shiva in the town of Rishikesh, Uttarakhand State on June 18th. Many of the 5,000 killed by the floods were pilgrims visiting sacred sites in the region. Ironically, Shiva is sometimes referred to as 'The Destroyer' among the Hindu faithful. AP Photo.

The other big story in Asia during June was the smog event in Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia caused by man-made fires to clear plantation land in Sumatra, Indonesia. You may read more about this in a guest blog by National Geographic photographer Michael Yamashita posted last month.

Dense fog in Zhumadian, Henan Province in central China caused a deadly 56-vehicle accident that killed nine on the Beijing-Hong Kong Expressway on June 4th.



A still from a video following the horrific fog-related crash that occurred along the Beijing-Hong Kong expressway on June 4th. There were nine fatalities. Videographer unidentified.

An unprecedented hailstorm hit Singapore on June 25th depositing hailstones up to 2 cm (1 inch) in diameter. Singapore, being at sea level and just 1° latitude north of the equator, has never experienced a hailstorm before.

AUSTRALIA

It was generally a wet month with mostly average temperatures. Victoria reported its wettest June since 1995 and Western Australia its wettest since 1998.





Maps of the deciles for June precipitation (top) and June maximum temperature (bottom) for Australia. Maps courtesy of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

The hottest temperature measured during the month was 37.4°C (99.3°F) at Douglas River, Northern Territory on June 16th and the coldest -11.2°C (11.8°F) at Liawenee, Tasmania on June 23rd. The greatest calendar day precipitation was 223.6 mm (8.80”) at Roebourne, Western Australia on June 25th. This was the 2nd heaviest rainfall on record for Roebourne (the record being 233.7mm/9.20“ on March 7, 1945).

NEW ZEALAND

It was generally wetter and warmer than normal in New Zealand during June. Portions of Otaga reported their wettest June on record. The greatest calendar day rainfall was 187 mm (7.36”) at Pigeon Creek, Tasman on June 3rd. The warmest temperature was 22.1°C (71.8°F) at Winchmore on June 2nd and the coldest -12.1°C (10.2°F) on June 28th. A powerful winter storm struck the South Island on June 20th depositing snow in the Christchurch area and winds gusting to 202 km/h (125 mph) at Mt. Kaukau, Wellington. The airport at Wellington was closed and all ferry service suspended. Sea swells of 15 meters (50 feet) were reported in the Cook Strait between the North and South Islands.



Fierce winds and waves drove this yacht ashore at Wellington, New Zealand during the storm on June 20th. Waves in the Cook Strait reached 15 meters (50’) high. Photo by Maarten Holl.

ANTARCTICA

The coldest temperature in the southern hemisphere and the world during June was -78.4°C (-109.1°F) recorded at Nico on June 7th. A very unusual ‘heat event’ affected the South Pole Station (Amundsen-Scott) during the month when they recorded their warmest June temperature on record with a -28.8°C (-19.8°F) reading (the previous record was -30.9°C/-23.6°F on June 1, 1993). Not only was this a record for June but it even beat their warmest temperature ever recorded in May (-30.8°C/-23.4°F) set on May 3, 1981 and almost topped the April record for warmth as well (-28.1°C/-18.6°F) on April 13, 1968.

KUDOS Thanks to Maximiliano Herrera for global temperature extremes data, Stephen Burt for the U.K. extremes, and Jeremy Budd for New Zealand weather extremes.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian


Extreme Weather

Updated: 8:06 PM GMT on July 16, 2013

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Record Hailstorms and Hail Stones

By: weatherhistorian, 7:25 PM GMT on July 08, 2013

Record Hailstorms and Hail Stones

There have been some interesting hail events the past few weeks. The town of Santa Rosa, New Mexico was hammered with up to a foot of hail accumulation last Wednesday July 3. Snowplows had to be employed to clear the highways. On June 25th a very rare, if not unprecedented, hailstorm struck Singapore. This is an updated blog to one I posted two years ago about the greatest hailstorms on record and the largest individual stones yet measured.

Recent extraordinary hailstorms



An intense hailstorm that lasted only 30 minutes managed to leave accumulations of up to one foot on the town of Santa Rosa, New Mexico on the evening of July 3, 2013. Snow plows had to be used to clear the streets. Photo courtesy of the Santa Rosa Fire Department.


Video 1. In Singapore, a freak wind and hailstorm struck the city on the afternoon of June 25th, 2013. Video accounts seem to indicate the hail stones measured up to at least ½”-1” in diameter. Singapore rests at sea level just 1° latitude north of the equator. It is extremely rare for hail, let alone large hail, to fall in the tropics at sea level. The storm cloud tops must have been very high.



A photograph of the hail stones that fell on Singapore on the afternoon of June 25, 2013. Photographer not identified.


Video 2. On July 6, 2013, an intense hailstorm occurred along a narrow streak between Airdie and Irricana in southwestern Alberta, Canada. Accumulations of 3-12" were observed in the streak which was about 2 miles wide and 10 miles long between the two towns.



An areal view of the hail streak that dropped up to a foot of hail in Irricana, Alberta, Canada in just 15-30 minutes on July 6, 2013. Photographer not identified.



Hailstorms and Hailstone Size in the U.S.A.

Costliest Hailstorms

There have been a handful of hailstorms that resulted in $1 billion or more in damages in the U.S. The costliest storm appears to be that of April 10, 2001 which cut a swath along the I-70 corridor from eastern Kansas to southwestern Illinois and pounded the St. Louis area. Property damage was in excess of $2.4 billion in 2010 dollars. The hailstorm that struck the Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas metro area on May 5, 1995 also caused an estimated $2 billion in damage (adjusted to current dollars). The only other $1 billion dollar hailstorm on record was that which pummeled the Front Range of Colorado between Colorado Springs and Fort Collins on July 11, 1990 causing $1.6 billion damage in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars.

Deadliest U.S. Hailstorms

In spite of the enormous crop and property damage that hailstorms have caused only three people have ever been killed by falling hailstones: 1) a farmer caught in his field near Lubbock, Texas on May 13, 1930 2) a baby struck by large hail in Fort Collins, Colorado on July 31, 1979, and 3) a boater on Lake Worth, Texas on March 29, 2000.

Largest Hail Stones



Mr. and Ms. Clarence Costner proudly display baseball-sized hail that fell on their farm near Norbonne, Missouri date unknown. Photo from Weatherwise Magazine, August 1976.

The largest officially recognized hailstone on record to have been ‘captured’ in the U.S. was that which fell near Vivian, South Dakota last summer (2010) on July 23rd. It measured 8.0” in diameter, 18 ½” in circumference, and weighed in at 1.9375 pounds. Mr. Lee Scott, who collected, the monster stone originally planned to make daiquiris out of the hail but fortunately thought better and placed it in a freezer before turning it over to the National Weather Service for certification.



The largest official hailstone ever collected in the U.S. An eight-inch monster that fell at Vivian, South Dakota on July 23, 2010. The stone was said to have been at least 10” in diameter when it fell but melted considerably after it was stored in a freezer that lost electricity due to the storm.

Other instances of 8-inch hail have been reported in the past but not certified. The U.S. Weather Bureau’s Climatological Data by Sections Vol. 22, Part 2 April-June, 1935 mentions a hailstorm producing 8-inch diameter hailstones at Ponca City, Oklahoma on April 17, 1935 (see p. 18 in the Oklahoma section).

Below is a list by state of the largest hailstones ever measured. Only a few states maintain an ‘official’ list of such records which I have listed first and then followed up with a list of ‘unofficial’ sizes by state that I have gathered from various sources. If any readers could add to this list or correct it, I would be much appreciative!





Bart McCarthy inspects a 5.5”-diamter hailstone that fell near Wisconsin Rapids on June 7, 2007. It is the 2nd largest hailstone on record for the state of Wisconsin. Photo from NWS Green Bay, Wisconsin archives.



A photograph of the oblong giant hailstone that was collected on the north shore of Hawaii’s Oahu Island on March 9, 2012. It measured 4.25” long and about 2” wide. Photographer not identified.

Hail Accumulations

Some hailstorms train over the same area (or stationary thunderstorms develop) producing massive hail accumulations. Hail accumulated to over 12” deep on level in El Dorado, Kansas on June 23, 1951 (and just recently at Santa Rosa, New Mexico as noted at the beginning of the blog) and a storm at Seldon, in northwest Kansas, left an 18”-deep accumulation of hail over a 54 square mile area on June 3, 1959.



An aerial view of a deep hail swath accumulation over Seldon, Kansas. The 18” of hail fell on the town on June 3, 1959. Photo from the Norton Telegram newspaper archives, Norton, Kansas.

Heavy rainfall following a hailstorm causes the hail accumulations to wash into ditches or creek beds and enormous piles of hail accumulate. This was the case during a storm south of Clayton, New Mexico on August 13, 2004 when a 12-inch hail accumulation was swept into a draw by 5” of rainfall. A culvert in the draw became clogged by the flow and the hail piled up to 15 feet deep behind it!



Hail cliffs 15 feet high line the bottom of a creek near Clayton, New Mexico following a deluge on August 13, 2004. The drifts took weeks to finally melt away. Photo by Barbara Podzemny.

Some Notes on Large Hail Around the World

Bangladesh and India

The deadliest hailstorms, and perhaps the largest hailstones, in the world occur on the Deccan Plateau of northern India and in Bangladesh. The heaviest authenticated hailstone ever measured was one of 2.25 pounds that fell in the Gopalanj district of Bangladesh on April 14, 1986. The stones size was not measured although anecdotal reports claimed the stones were the size of “pumpkins”. Ninety-two people perished as a result of the storm although how many of these can be attributed to the hail is uncertain. A hailstorm in the Moradabad and Beheri districts of India killed 246 people on April 30, 1888, the deadliest hailstorm on record in modern history.

China

In China 25 were killed by hail in Henan Province on July 19, 2002 and a possibly reliable report claims 200 were killed by hail in Hunan Province on June 19, 1932.

Europe

In Europe a hailstone weighing 2.14 pounds was measured following a storm in Strasbourg, France on August 11, 1958. The size was not noted. Europe’s most catastrophic hailstorm was that which struck Munich, Germany on July 12, 1984. Some 70,000 homes (and 190 aircraft!) were damaged and 400 people injured by hail the size of baseballs. Property damage was estimated at over US$2 billion.

Australia

Perhaps the single costliest hailstorm in world history was that which struck the Sydney, Australia area on April 14, 1999. Hailstones up to 3½” in diameter fell for almost 60 minutes damaging 20,000 structures and 40,000 vehicles. The total damage came to US$3 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars and remains Australia’s costliest natural disaster.

Canada

Canada’s largest hailstone of record was that collected at Cedoux, Saskatchewan on August 27, 1973. It measured 114 mm in diameter (4.5”) and weighed 290 grams (10.2 ounces). Probably the costliest hailstorm was that which affected 130 sq. kilometers in the Calgary, Alberta area on September 7, 1991. It caused $400 million in Canadian dollars damage.

Unsubstantiated Reports

There are many apocryphal or unsubstantiated stories of giant hailstones from many corners of the world including a stone weighing 4.18 pounds in Kazakhstan in 1959; an 11-pound stone in Guangxi Province, China in 1986; and, best of all, a hailstone the size of an “elephant” in Seringapatam, India sometime in the late 18th century! Many of these events are more likely not hailstones but hydrometeors, large chunks of ice that fall from the sky for some unknown reason or source.

REFERENCES: The only book I am aware that is solely devoted to hail is Snowden D. Flora’s classic Hailstorms of the United States published by the Univ. of Oklahoma Press back in 1956. It is still a great reference.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Extreme Weather Hail

Updated: 2:54 PM GMT on July 09, 2013

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UPDATE: Summary of Southwest Heat Event through July 2nd

By: weatherhistorian, 6:12 AM GMT on July 02, 2013

UPDATE: Summary of Southwest Heat Event through July 2nd

On Tuesday, July 2nd Redding, California measured 116°, just 2° short of their all-time record. Death Valley had a low of 104° on July 2nd, its second hottest night on record since 1920 (hottest was just last summer!). It has been an amazing past six days (June 27-July 2) heat-wise in the West. Many significant heat records have been broken. This is a daily update (July 3rd) on the latest with also some new information about earlier events.


JUNE 27, 2013

The heat wave began to evolve on June 27th with a dome of upper air high pressure centered over northern New Mexico. That day brought an all-time heat record for any location in Santa Fe of 102° at the airport (and a near record 98° to the downtown area). Albuquerque registered 105°, tying their 2nd highest temperature on record (following 107° set on June 26, 1994). See my previous log about the Santa Fe temperature extreme.





Maps of 500 mb contours at 7 a.m. June 27th (top) and temperatures observed on June 27th bottom. Although the caption for the temperatures say “June 28” that is because the map was published at 7 a.m. June 28th but it actually reflects the max/min temperatures for the previous day (June 27th). This, of course holds true all the following maps as well. NOAA/NCDC Daily Weather Maps.


JUNE 28, 2013

By June 28th, last Friday, the dome had slid to the west and become centered over southern Utah. Salt Lake City hit 105° on June 28th, the hottest June temperature on record (previous 104° June 21, 1961). Red Bluff, California reached 110° (not a record) and a site called Iron Mountain in southern California reached 127° (their warmest temperature on record-POR back to 1935) smashing their all-time previous record of 122° set on July 17, 1998 and July 19, 2005 according to the COOP site information received just today (July 1st). The official Death Valley site at Furnace Creek reached 125°, a daily record (note that earlier this month Death Valley measured a record early-season temperature of 126° on June 8th! Zion National Park in Utah measured 114°, their warmest June temp on record and only 1° short of their all-time record of 115 set on July 1, 1950. Temperature records go back to 1904 at Zion.





Maps of 500 mb contours at 7 a.m. June 28th (top) and temperatures observed on June 28th (bottom). NOAA/NCDC Daily Weather Maps.


JUNE 29, 2013

On Saturday, June 29th, the dome of high pressure had migrated slightly to the south and centered over northern Arizona. The following all-time June monthly records were set:

100° Ely, Nevada (previous 99° June 22, 1954)

101° Eureka, Nevada (previous 98° on two occasions)

105° Salt Lake City, Utah (again, see June 28)

122° Palm Springs, California (tied June 28, 1994) and 1° short of all-time record of 123° set on August 1, 1993

128° Death Valley, California (tied previous 128° set on June 29, 1994)

It was 119° in Phoenix, Arizona their 4th warmest reading on record.





Maps of 500 mb contours at 7 a.m. June 29th (top) and temperatures observed on June 29th (bottom). NOAA/NCDC Daily Weather Maps.


JUNE 30, 2013

On Sunday June 30th the high pressure dome became centered over the southern tip of Nevada. Amazing temperatures resulted. All-time records for heat were set at Lancaster, California: 115° (previous record 114° on July 18 and 19, 1960) and tied at Las Vegas, Nevada with a 117° reading (also on July 19, 2005 and July 24, 1942). Overton, Nevada hit 122°, the warmest reading in Nevada for the heat wave. It was 123° in Bullhead City for Arizona's hottest for the entire event.

All-time June monthly records were set or tied at:

104° Elko, Nevada (previous 104° June 24, 1981)

103° Tonopah, Nevada (previous 102° on two occasions), this was also just 1° short of their all-time record of 104° set on July 18, 1960).

106° Winnemucca, Nevada (previous 106° on June 24, 1988)





Maps of 500 mb contours at 7 a.m. June 30th (top) and temperatures for June 30th (bottom). NOAA/NCDC Daily Weather Maps.

But the grand daddy of all was the official 129° at Furnace Creek, the official weather site for Death Valley. In fact the temperature actually reached 129.2°, which is the hottest reliably measured temperature on earth for the month of June.



A photograph of the official Furnace Creek, Death Valley maximum recording thermometer at time of observation on Monday morning July 1st (which was for the maximum temperature measured on June 30th). Observations at the site are made only at 4 p.m. and 7 a.m. daily. The shelter door is not opened at any other time in order to not affect the ambient air temperature inside the shelter. You may have seen a different image of this same thermometer on the NWS-Las Vegas web site posted today (July 1st) that shows the temperature just shy of 129°. That is because THAT photograph was taken after the thermometer had been removed from its shelter and turned vertically, which caused the mercury to slip down the tube about 0.3°F. This photograph was taken prior to the thermometer being removed from the shelter. Photo courtesy of Death Valley National Park and NWS-Las Vegas.



An analysis of the above photograph illustrates that the maximum temperature recorded at the official Furnace Creek, Death Valley site on June 30th was, in fact, 129.2° by calculating the horizontal and vertical placements by pixel length (using an enlargement of the original photo). Officially, the temperature in Death Valley is rounded off to the nearest full degree Fahrenheit, so the official daily maximum on June 30th was 129°. However, we can see that in reality it reached 129.2°, by our best calculation, and thus would be the hottest reliably measured temperature for the month of June on earth. Pixel analysis by Nick Wiltgen of The Weather Channel.

JULY 1, 2013



500 mb chart for July 1st. The heat dome has drifted northward to northern Nevada. Temperatures have eased over the far Southwest but ramped up over Idaho and the interior Northwest. Temperature map for July 1st not yet available. NOAA/NCDC Daily Weather Maps.


On July 1st the temperature again reached record territory in Death Valley with a reading of 127°. However, the worst of the heat has migrated northwards and Boise, Idaho reported 110°, tying its 2nd hottest temperature on record (set on three previous occasions, last time being July 13, 2002) following a 111° reading on July 19, 1960 and also on July 12, 1898. St. George, Utah reached 113° for their warmest reading of the heat wave.

JULY 2, 2013

Redding, California reached 116°. This site is at the north end of the Sacramento Valley and Tuesday' 116° was just 2° short of their all-time heat record of 118° last set on July 20, 1988. In Oregon, the town of Rome hit 108° (a daily record) with the RAWS site of Beverly 5 E peaking at 111°. Missoula, Montana reached 100° and St. Regis (at 2,692' elevation) reached 105°. Butte, Montana set a daily record high of 95° (previous 93° in 1996). The triple-digit heat worked its way up into British Columbia, Canada where Penticton hit 101°. Death Valley had another day at 127° but this followed its warmest night yet so far during the prolonged heat wave with a minimum of 104° (on the official mechanical thermometer! Death Valley's warmest night on record was set just last summer when the temperature failed to drop below 107° on July 12th. Las Vegas hit 115°, tying the daily record high with 1937 and 1950.

All-time warmest June on record for several sites

Meanwhile, this past June was the warmest such on record for Tucson, Arizona with an average of 89.5°, (previous 89.2° in June 1994). For the first time on record every single day in June reached 100° or greater. Phoenix and Las Vegas also reported their warmest June on record with 94.8° at Phoenix (previous 94.6° in June 2006) and 91.5° at Las Vegas (previous 90.5° also in June 2006). It was also Death Valley's warmest June on record with an average of 101.3° and also for Needles, California with 95.8°.

Hot nights as well

Salt Lake City had a calendar day minimum of 80° on Sunday, June 30th, tying for its warmest such with July 16, 2003. Likewise, Las Vegas had a minimum of 95° on July 1st, tied with its other hottest night on record July 19, 2005.

I just mentioned Death Valley's 104° minimum on July 2nd. This would rank as its 2nd hottest night on record (after last summer's 107° on July 12th) if one discounts some dubious readings from the 1917-1920 era: those were 110° on July 5, 1918, 106° on August 1, 1920, and 105° on July 11, 1920 and July 22, 1917.

Of course, there have been many other all-time, monthly, and daily records set throughout the region the past five day, these are just the highlights. The ore of the heat is moving north and on Wednesday July 3rd we may see more records in the Montana, Oregon, and Washington area.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Extreme Weather Heat

Updated: 8:58 PM GMT on July 03, 2013

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Historic Heat and Tragic Fire this Sunday June 30, 2013

By: weatherhistorian, 4:53 AM GMT on July 01, 2013

Historic Heat and Tragic Fire this Sunday June 30, 2013

Two incredible stories are breaking news at this late hour on Sunday June 30th. One is the possibility of a reliable 130°F temperature having been attained at the Furnace Creek site in Death Valley. Confirmation of this will not be known until the 7 a.m. observation at the site on Monday morning. The other breaking news is a report that 19 firefighters have lost their lives battling a blaze in and around Yarnell, Arizona (about 55 miles northwest of Phoenix). If this report proves true it would be the most tragic rural wild fire event (so far as firefighters are concerned) since the Griffith Park fire in Los Angeles in 1933 when 25-29 firefighters lost their lives (according to conflicting sources).

I’m sorry but as of 10 p.m. this Sunday night I am unable to confirm either of these two major events and will post a blog tomorrow, Monday July 1st, with details. However, it appears the tragic catastrophe is true according to this late report. This is the 2nd deadliest wild fire in U.S. history so far as firefighters are concerned. The deadliest event was that known as the 'Devil's Broom' wildfire in and around Silverton, Idaho on August 20, 1910 when 78 to 86 firefighters lost their lives (again the actual figure varies according to sources). The fire would also be the deadliest wild fire event (including residents) since the Oakland, California fire of October 20, 1991 that resulted in 25 fatalities (including one fire fighter and two policemen).

130° in Death Valley?

UPDATE July 1: The official maximum temperature at Furnace Creek, Death Valley for June 30th was 129°. This is a new June record for Death Valley.

Temperature records this Sunday (aside from Death Valley) included 117° in Las Vegas, tying their all-time record high temperature set on July 19, 2005 and July 24, 1942. A reading of 118° was apparently reported on July 21, 1931 at a site before the McCarran Airport became the official weather station for Las Vegas (I cannot confirm the validity of that 1931 reading). The potential Death Valley reading of 130° is spurred by a 4 p.m. observation of 128° on the official mercury thermometer in the shelter at the visitor’s center in Furnace Creek. An experimental electronic thermometer located just feet away from the official shelter registered 125.6° at 4 p.m. but then shot up to 129.1° by 4:43 p.m. So we may presume that the mercury thermometer followed suit and rose to at least 130° some time between 4p.m. and 5 p.m. On Saturday the official temperature actually rose to 128° after the 4 p.m. reading of 127° (a June record for Death Valley) whereas the electronic thermometer peaked at 126.2° a t 4:53 p.m.

Tonopah, Nevada reached 103° Sunday, just 1 ° short of their all-time heat record of 104° set on July 18, 1960. Needles, California hit 122° on Sunday, slightly cooler than the 124° measured on Saturday (which was 1° short of their all-time record of 125° set on July 17, 2005). Bishop, California reached 109° on Sunday, 1° short of their all-time record of 110° set on July 10, 2002. Needless to say, all the above records were also all-time June monthly records. Salt Lake City, Utah had a calendar day minimum of 80° on June 30th. This ties their all-time warm minimum last set on July 16, 2003. They recorded their hottest June temperature ever measured on both Friday and Saturday with 105° readings (it was 103° on Sunday).

It also appears that this June has been the warmest such on record for Las Vegas and Phoenix. Details available on Monday.

Monday will bring more record temperatures to the inter-mountain Southwest as one of the, if not THE, most formidable heat wave on record for the region continues to unfold.


Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Extreme Weather Mini Blog Heat

Updated: 7:38 PM GMT on July 01, 2013

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About weatherhistorian

Christopher C. Burt is the author of 'Extreme Weather; A Guide and Record Book'. He studied meteorology at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison.