July 2012 Global Weather Extremes Summary

Published: 7:46 PM GMT on August 10, 2012

July 2012 Global Weather Extremes Summary

July 2012 featured many notable extreme weather events from around the world. It was the warmest single month on record for the continental U.S., beating out the infamous July of 1936 by a slim margin. Record warmth occurred on the summit of Greenland’s ice cap and a possible new Asian heat record of 53.6°C (128.5°F) was set in Kuwait. Deadly floods devastated portions of Russia, China, Japan, and North Korea. The most powerful typhoon since 1999 struck Macao and Hong Kong.

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


Persistent heat across much of the continental U.S. resulted in July 2012 being the warmest single month on record since official records began in 1895 according to the NCDC with an average nation-wide temperature of 77.6°F just beating July 1936 (77.4°F), the previous hottest month on record. The beginning of the month saw all-time heat records fall in some southeastern cities like 107°F (41.7°C) in Greenville, South Carolina and 105°F (40.6°C) in Knoxville, Tennessee. An unofficial reading of 112°F (44.4°C), a possible state record, was apparently measured somewhere in Georgia but details on this figure are sketchy. By the 4th of July the heat became centered over the upper Midwest and all-time heat records were broken or tied at Lansing, Michigan with 103°F (39.4°C) and Muskegon, Michigan with 99°F (37.2°C) (both records measured on July 6th). Chicago endured three consecutive days above 100°F (38°C) from July 4-6, tying the modern record for such. For more details on the July heat wave see my previous blog on this subject.

The July 2012 temperature and precipitation rankings by state. NCDC graphics.

An interesting side note to the months heat was the minimum temperature of 107°F (41.7°C) measured on July 12th in Death Valley, California. This is most likely the hottest night ever reliably recorded in the U.S. and ties a similar figure measured just last June in Oman for the world record maximum-minimum.

Colorado’s worst wildfire in history was finally contained early in the month after destroying 300 homes and killing two near Colorado Springs.

Drought conditions intensified across much of the country during July, expanding to cover 67% of the country by month’s end, the greatest extent since the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s.

A spectacular photograph of an intense dust storm that enveloped Phoenix, Arizona on July 5th. Photo by Mike Chandler posted on wunderground.com.

The Canadian Arctic and Greenland recorded some remarkable warmth during July as well. Alert, Nunavut, Canada at a latitude above 82°N reached 19.6°C (67.3°F) on July 18th. This was just shy of their all-time record high of 20.0°C (68.0°F) set on July 8th, 1956. In Greenland the Summit station at 10,500’ (3300m) on top of the ice cap hit 3.6°C (38.5°F) on July 16th. The first time on record the temperature has risen above freezing. Just 12 days earlier the temperature at Summit was -30.4°C (-22.7°F) on July 4th, this was coldest temperature recorded in the northern hemisphere during the month. Also, for the first time, almost (97%) of the entire Greenland ice sheet showed signs of melting.


The warmest temperature measured in the southern hemisphere during this past July was 39.0°C (102.2°F) at Floriano, Brazil on July 13th.


In the U.K. a cool, wet, and dreary month of July turned warmer, drier, and sunnier just in time for the start of the Olympics in the latter third of the month. It was, however, the coolest July since 2000. The warmest temperature measured was 30.7°C (87.3°F) at St. James Park in London on July 25th and the coldest figure was 0.0°C (32°F) at Resallach, Scotland on July 2nd. Heaviest 24-hour rainfall total was 74.9mm (2.95”) at Slapton, Devon on July 6-7. Dublin, Ireland enjoyed its warmest night in modern records on July 22-23 when the temperature fell to just 17.7°C (63.9°F) besting the previous high-min of 17.6°C (63.7°F) set in June 2005. However, old records from Dublin indicate a minimum of 18.7°C (65.7°F) was measured in July 1881.

Elsewhere in Europe a rare tornado ripped through the northern Polish town of Sztum on July 16th killing one and injuring 10 others.

An intense tornado rips through Sztum, Poland on July 16th. Photographer unidentified.

In Spain hot, dry, and windy weather fanned a wildfire in Portbou near the French border on July 22nd. Two people perished after jumping off a cliff to escape the flames.

One of the world’s deadliest weather disasters during July was the flash flood that struck the Krasnodar region (near the Black Sea) of Russia on July 7-8. Some 300 mm (11.8”) of rain fell in 24 hours near Yalta and the ensuing floods resulted in the deaths of at least 175 people. For more details on this historic flood see Jeff Master’s blog on the event he posted last month.


Marrakech, Morocco recorded the hottest temperature ever reliably measured in that country on July 17th with a 49.6°C (121.3°F) reading. A temperature from Agadir of 51.8°C (125.2°F) on August 17, 1940 has been reported but is suspicious since it exceeded by about 10°F any other reading from nearby locations.

Flooding in the central Nigerian city of Jos killed at least 35 people on July 22-23.


A possible all-time continental heat record for Asia was set on July 31st at Sulaibya, Kuwait when the temperature peaked at 53.6°C (128.5°F). If verified, this would surpass the 53.5°C (128.3°F) recorded at Moen Do-Jaro, Pakistan in May 2010. This was the hottest temperature measured in the world last month (Death Valley made it up to 128°F/53.3°C on July 11th).

Ankara, the capital of Turkey, recorded its all-time hottest temperature on record with a 41.0°C (105.8°F) reading on July 26th (previous record was 40.8°C/105.4°F).

Southern and Eastern Asia suffered through both droughts and floods during the month. In India floods in the Himalayan foothill state of Uttarakhand killed 26 in spite of the fact that the monsoons have by and large failed this year across much of the country. A huge blackout on July 30-Aug. 1 was in part responsible by the grid being overloaded by farmers pumping water to irrigate their crops in drought-stricken regions.

Beijing, China endured its heaviest 24-hour rainfall on record July 20-21 when about 150 mm (6”) of rain fell. Up to 467 mm (18.4”) was reported from suburban Fangshan, 4” of this in just one hour. The resulting floods killed at least 77 people and shut the metropolitan area down for two days.

The Forbidden City’s Tiananmen Square lies submerged under flood waters following the deluge of July 22nd. Xinhua News Agency.

After months of drought, torrential rains slammed the Korean Peninsula during July resulting in devastating floods in North Korea. State media reported at least 175 deaths and the near-complete destruction of its grain crops. Up to 210,000 people have been displaced by the flooding.

Flooding in southwestern Japan left 28 dead following 100 mm (4”) of rain in one hour near Yame. Over 50,000 were ordered to evacuate the area.

The strongest typhoon since 1999 to hit Hong Kong and Macao, Typhoon Vicente, roared ashore on July 22-23 with wind gusts up to 87 mph. The storm unexpectedly intensified from a tropical storm to a Category 3 typhoon in just 12 hours prior to making landfall. Fortunately, there were few deaths reported and 110 injuries as a result of the storm.

A satellite image of Typhoon Vicente just prior to making landfall south of Macao on July 23rd. University of Wisconsin-Madison, Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies.

Typhoon Saola killed 24 and displaced 180,000 in the northern Philippines in late July. The rainfall from the storm began the historic flooding that engulfed Manila in early August.


It was the driest July on record for extreme southwestern Australia including Perth which recorded just 34.6mm (1.36”) of precipitation (previous record was 61.5mm/2.42” in July 1876). For a large portion of central Australia it was the coolest July on record so far as minimum average temperatures were concerned.

The top map shows Australian Rainfall Deciles for July and the bottom map Minimum Temperature deciles for the month. Courtesy of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

The warmest temperature in Australia during July was 36.4°C (97.5°F) at Ngukurr, Northern Territory on July 13th and coldest -3.9°C (25.0°F) at Thredbo Top Station, New South Wales on July 6th. The greatest calendar day rainfall was 180.4mm (7.10”) at Daradgee, Queensland on July 10th.


The warmest temperature recorded in New Zealand during the month was 22.6°C (72.7°F) at Rangiora, North Island on July 15th and coldest reading -11.3°C (11.7°F) at Ranfurly, South Island on July 2nd. The greatest calendar rainfall was 336mm (13.23”) at North Egmont, North Island on July 15th.


The coldest temperature in the southern hemisphere and the world during July was -81.1°C (-114.0°F) recorded at Vostok on July 22nd.

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

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

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

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July 2012 Global Weather Extremes Summary

July 2012 Global Weather Extremes SummaryJuly 2012 featured many notable extreme weather events from around the world. It was the warmest single month on record for the continental U.S., beating out the infamous July of 1936 by a slim margin. Record warmth occurred on the summit of Greenland’s ice cap and a possible new Asian heat record of 53.6°C (128.5°F) was set in Kuwait. Deadly floods devastated portions of Russia, China, Japan, and North Korea. The most po...

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