August 2018: Earth's Fifth Warmest August on Record

September 19, 2018, 1:25 AM EDT

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Above: The deadliest and costliest weather-related disaster of August 2018 was the monsoon flooding in the southwest Indian state of Kerala, which killed over 500 people and caused $4.6 billion in damage. Here we see the Border Security Force (BSF) distribute food and water to the residents of Allapy on August 21, 2018 in Kerala, India. Image credit: Atul Loke/Getty Images.

August 2018 was the planet's fifth-warmest August since record keeping began in 1880, said NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) on Monday. NASA also rated August 2018 as the fifth-warmest August on record, with the only warmer August months coming in 2016, 2017, 2014, and 2015. Occasional differences in rankings between NASA and NOAA arise mostly due to how they handle data-sparse regions such as the Arctic, where few surface weather stations exist.

Global land temperatures during August 2018 were the sixth warmest on record, and global ocean temperatures were the fifth warmest on record, according to NOAA. Global satellite-measured temperatures in August 2018 for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere were the ninth and seventh warmest in the 40-year record, respectively, according to the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH) and RSS.

The Northern Hemisphere summer period (June – August) was the warmest summer on record for Europe, and the fifth warmest such period for the globe. The year-to-date period of January - August now ranks as the fourth warmest on record, and it is increasingly likely that the five warmest years on record globally since 1880 will be 2014 through 2018. If an El Niño develops later this year, as predicted, that will give 2019 a very good chance of giving us six straight years that are each among the top six warmest years on record--barring a massive planet-cooling volcanic eruption in the tropics.

Departure of temperature from average
Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average for August 1895 - 2018. The five warmest Augusts for the globe since record keeping began in 1880 have all occurred in the past five years. Image credit: National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).
Departure of temperature from average
Figure 2. Regional departures from average temperature for August 2018. Record warm temperatures were present across parts of each major ocean basin, with the largest portions across the Barents Sea and the western Pacific Ocean. Over land, small areas across Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America saw record warmth. No land or ocean areas had record cold August temperatures. Image credit: National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).

Three billion-dollar weather disasters in August 2018

Three billion-dollar weather-related disasters hit the Earth last month, according to the August 2018 Catastrophe Report from insurance broker Aon Benfield: a U.S. drought, Wildfires in California, and flooding in India. In addition, damage claims from separate severe weather outbreaks in the U.S. in May and June topped the $1 billion mark by the end of August, giving the planet 22 billion-dollar weather disasters so far in 2018:

  1. Drought, Northern and Central Europe, 5/1 – 8/31, $7.5 billion, 0 killed
  2. Flooding, India, 8/7 – 8/20, $4.6 billion, 500+ killed
  3. Drought, Argentina and Uruguay, 1/1 – 3/31, $3.9 billion, 0 killed
  4. Flooding, Japan, 7/5 – 7/8, $3.25 billion, 230 killed
  5. Winter Storm Friederike, Western & Central Europe, 1/18, $2.75 billion, 13 killed
  6. Winter Storm Riley, Eastern U.S., 3/1 – 3/3, $2.3 billion, 9 killed
  7. Drought, U.S., 1/1 – 8/31, $2 billion, 0 killed
  8. Winter Weather, China, 4/2 – 4/18, $1.5 billion, 0 killed
  9. Severe Weather, Plains, Southeast, Northeast U.S., 3/18 – 3/21, $1.5 billion, 0 killed
  10. Severe Weather, Rockies, Plains, Midwest, Northeast U.S., 5/12 – 5/16, $1.45 billion, 0 killed
  11. Severe Weather, Rockies, Plains, Midwest, Northeast U.S., 6/17 – 6/21, $1.4 billion, 0 killed
  12. Wildfire, California (U.S.), 8/1 – 8/31, $1.3 billion, 14 killed
  13. Flooding, China, 5/1 – 6/30, $1.3 billion, 108 killed
  14. Winter Storms Eleanor & Carmen, Western & Central Europe, 1/1 – 1/4, $1.3 billion, 7 killed
  15. Severe Weather, Plains, Midwest, Southeast, Northeast U.S., 4/13 – 4/17, $1.3 billion, 6 killed
  16. Drought, South Africa, 1/1 – 5/31, $1.2 billion, 0 killed
  17. Drought, Australia, 1/1 – 8/1, $1.2 billion, 0 killed
  18. Severe Weather, 4/28 – 5/5 Plains, Midwest U.S., $1.15 billion, 0 killed
  19. Severe Weather, 6/3 – 6/7, Plains, Midwest, Southeast U.S., $1.1 billion, 0 killed
  20. Winter Storm Grayson, Central & Eastern U.S., 1/3 – 1/5, $1.1 billion, 22 killed
  21. Winter Weather, China, 1/24 – 1/29, $1.1 billion, 2 killed
  22. California wildfires, 7/24 – 8/1, $1 billion, 6 killed
Mendocino Complex fire
August Billion-Dollar Disaster 1. Massive wildfires torched tinder-dry California in August, causing at least $1 billion in damage. The two largest fires--the Carr Fire and the Mendocino Complex Fire--combined to burn more roughly 690,000 acres (279,000 hectares) of land. The Mendocino Complex Fire became the largest fire in modern history in California, based on official Cal Fire data beginning in 1932. The Carr Fire remained the sixth-most destructive fire on record in the state, having destroyed 1,604 structures (1,079 homes). Above: A firefighter emerges from smoke from the largest fire in California history, the Menocino complex, on July 30, 2018. Image credit: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images.
Volunteering members of the Kerala Adventure Sports Club carry flood relief material for marooned villages on the outskirt of Kozhikode district, north of Trivandrum, Kerala, on August 17, 2018
August Billion-Dollar Disaster 2. Catastrophic monsoon flooding hit southwest India’s Kerala state in August, leaving more than 500 people dead or missing, in the state’s worst flooding since 1924. More than 23,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, 2.24 million acres of cropland were inundated, and nearly 6,400 kilometers (4,000 miles) of roadway segments and 134 bridges were washed away or damaged. Total damage was tentatively estimated at $4.6 billion. Above: Volunteering members of the Kerala Adventure Sports Club carry flood relief material for marooned villages on the outskirt of Kozhikode district, north of Trivandrum, Kerala, on August 17, 2018. Troop reinforcements stepped up desperate rescue attempts in India's flood-stricken Kerala state on August 17 after more than 100 bodies were found in a day and a half. Image credit: Manjunath Kiran/AFP/Getty Images.
Drought map
August Billion-Dollar Disaster 3. Widespread severe to exceptional drought gripped much of the Western U.S. in 2018, leading to at least $2 billion in losses, mostly to agriculture. Above: U.S. Drought Monitor for September 13, 2018. Image credit: NOAA/NWS/NCEP/CPC.

El Niño conditions still expected later this year

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) kept an El Niño Watch in place in its September 13 monthly advisory. Over the past week, sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the benchmark Niño 3.4 region (in the equatorial Pacific) were near average. Temperatures 0.5°C above average are needed to be classified as a weak El Niño.

Odds for an El Niño event to form are predicted to increase through the end of 2018, with a 50 – 55% chance during the September – November period, and a 65 - 70% chance for the coming winter (December-January-February), the time of year when El Niño events are typically at their strongest. These odds have fallen since the August advisory, when a 60% chance was given for the September – November period, and a 70% chance for December – February. The September 9 CPC/IRI Probabilistic ENSO Forecast calls for a 52% chance of an El Niño event during the September-November period. El Niño events typically reduce Atlantic hurricane activity, due to an increase in wind shear over the tropical Atlantic.

Arctic sea ice: 7th-lowest August extent on record

Arctic sea ice extent during August 2018 was the seventh lowest in the 40-year satellite record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). This was the highest August extent since 2014, but still ranked in the lowest 10% for ice-extent years. The Northwest Passage was ice-choked and not navigable, but the Northern Sea Route along the north coast of Russia appeared to be open. NSIDC projects that the annual sea ice minimum extent during late September will be among the ten lowest in the 40-year satellite record.

Sea ice extent was in the lowest 25% of years around Antarctica in August.

Notable global heat and cold marks set for August 2018

Hottest temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: 51.2°C (124.2°F) at Hendijan, Iran, 7 August
Coldest temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: -37.1°C (-34.8°F) at Summit, Greenland, 27 August
Hottest temperature in the Southern Hemisphere: 39.7°C (103.5°F) at Palmas, Brazil, 8 August, and Porto Nacional, Brazil, 27 August
Coldest temperature in the Southern Hemisphere: -82.4°C (-116.3°F) at Vostok, Antarctica, 27 August
(Courtesy of Maximiliano Herrera.)

Major weather stations that set (not tied) new all-time heat or cold records in August 2018

An astonishing 186 major weather stations with a long period of record (POR) exceeding 40 years broke their all-time heat record in August. Japan had the most stations break their heat record, with 92, followed by South Korea (28), Portugal (16), North Korea (15), and Canada (14). No stations broke their all-time cold records. Below is the remarkable tally of new all-time records for stations with a 40+ year POR:

Okishi (Japan) max. 32.7°C, 1 August
Enoshima (Japan) max. 34.5°C, 1 August
Sendai (Japan) max. 37.3°C, 1 August
Nasu Highlands (Japan) max. 32.2°C, 1 August
Otawara (Japan) max. 37.2°C, 1 August
Dalian (China) max. 36.9°C, 1 August
Dandong (China) max. 37.3°C, 1 August
Cholwon (South Korea) max. 38.4°C, 1 August
Chuncheon (South Korea) max. 39.5°C, 1 August
Seoul (South Korea) max. 39.6°C, 1 August
Wonju (South Korea) max. 38.8°C, 1 August
Suwon (South Korea) max. 39.3°C, 1 August
Yeongwol (South Korea) max. 39.9°C, 1 August
Chungju (South Korea) max. 40.0°C, 1 August
Cheongju (South Korea) max. 38.3°C, 1 August
Daejeon (South Korea) max. 38.9°C, 1 August
Yangpyeong (South Korea) max. 40.1°C, 1 August
Icheon (South Korea) max. 39.4°C, 1 August
Inje (South Korea) max. 37.7°C, 1 August
Hongcheon (South Korea) max. 41.0°C, 1 August:  New national record high for South Korea
Jecheon (South Korea) max. 39.4°C,1 August
Cheonan (South Korea) max. 37.8°C, 1 August
Buyeo (South Korea) max. 38.9°C, 1 August
Buan (South Korea) max. 38.0°C, 1 August
Gumi (South Korea) max. 38.1°C, 1 August
Kanggye (North Korea) max. 38.9°C, 1 August
Kusong (North Korea) max. 38.6°C, 1 August
Sinuiju (North Korea) max. 38.5°C, 1 August
Singye (North Korea) max. 38.0°C, 1 August
Kaesong (North Korea) max. 37.9°C, 1 August
Huichon (North Korea) max. 37.8°C, 1 August
Pyonggang (North Korea) max. 37.2°C, 1 August
Anju (North Korea) max. 37.0°C, 1 August
Kem (Russia) max. 32.9°C, 1 August
Kandalaksa (Russia) max. 32.0°C, 1 August
Benxi (China) max. 39.4°C, 2 August
Jeongeup (South Korea) max. 38.4°C, 2 August
Gunsan (South Korea) max. 37.1°C, 2 August
Imsil (South Korea) max. 37.3°C, 2 August
Bonghwa (South Korea) max. 37.8°C, 2 August
Jinshan (South Korea) max. 38.8°C, 2 August
Ryongyon  (North Korea) max. 36.4°C, 2 August
Pyongyang (North Korea) max. 37.9°C, 2 August
Nampo  (North Korea) max. 37.7°C, 2 August
Hyesan  (North Korea) max. 37.7°C, 2 August
Yangdok  (North Korea) max. 38.7°C, 2 August
Nagoya (Japan) max. 40.3°C, 3 August
Kuwana (Japan) max. 39.8°C, 3 August
Otsu (Japan) max. 37.6°C, 3 August
Kap Morris Jesup (Greenland, Denmark) max. 17.0°C, 3 August
Zhangwu (China) max. 38.4°C, 3 August
Madrid Cuatro Vientos Airport (Spain) max. 40.8°C, 3 August
Mora (Portugal) max. 45.7°C, 3 August
Penhas Douradas (Portugal) max. 33.7°C, 3 August
Braganca (Portugal) max. 39.7°C, 3 August
Castelo Branco (Portugal) max. 43.5°C, 3 August
Miranda do Douro  (Portugal) max. 40.4°C, 3 August
Setubal (Portugal) max. 45.5°C, 4 August
Portalegre  (Portugal) max. 44.2°C, 4 August
Lisbon (Portugal) max. 44.0°C, 4 August
Santarem (Portugal) max. 46.3°C,4 August
Sagres (Portugal) max. 40.4°C, 4 August
Evora (Portugal) max. 45.4°C, 4 August
Alcacer do Sal (Portugal) max. 46.2°C, 4 August
Alvalade (Portugal) max. 46.1°C, 4 August
Alvega (Portugal) max. 46.8°C, 4 August
Pegoes (Portugal) max. 46.0°C, 4 August
Zambujeira (Portugal) max. 42.8°C, 4 August
Reus (Spain) max. 39.8 °C, 4 August
Miyanohamae (Japan) max. 33.5°C, 4 August
Nagataki  (Japan) max. 36.8°C, 4 August
Ichinomiya (Japan) max. 38.5°C, 4 August
Hamheung (North Korea) max. 38.7°C, 4 August
Changjon (North Korea) max. 38.2°C, 4 August
Pohang (South Korea) max. 39.4°C, 4 August
Terobo (Japan) max. 33.3°C, 5 August
Nikko (Japan) max. 30.8°C, 5 August
Omachi (Japan) max. 35.5°C, 5 August
Ueda (Japan) max. 38.3°C, 5 August
Nagawa (Japan) max. 33.7°C, 5 August
Kisohirasawa (Japan) max. 36.2°C, 5 August
Haramura (Japan) max. 33.9°C,5 August
Kamioka (Japan) max. 37.3°C, 5 August
Tarumi (Japan) max. 37.6°C, 5 August
Tsuyama (Japan) max. 38.4°C, 5 August
Chizu (Japan) max. 38.9°C, 5 August
Koge (Japan) max. 36.8°C, 5 August
Kake (Japan) max. 38.8°C, 5 August
Kisofukushima (Japan) max. 35.6°C,6 August
Nagiso (Japan) max. 35.7°C, 6 August
Kanayama (Japan) max. 41.0°C, 6 August
Iwakuni (Japan) max. 37.8°C, 6 August
Matsuyama (Japan) max. 37.4°C, 7 August
Bochum (Germany) max. 37.3°C, 7 August
Hilgenroth (Germany) max. 36.2°C, 7 August
Emden (Germany) max. 35.2°C, 7 August
Eslohe (Germany) max. 35.1°C, 7 August
Schonefeld (Germany) max. 38.0°C, 8 August
Jonkoping (Sweden) max. 34.2°C, 8 August
Lund (Sweden) max. 34.4°C, 8 August
Skara (Sweden) max. 34.5°C, 8 August
Mino (Japan) max. 41.0°C, 8 August
Goko Gosei (Japan) max. 36.7°C, 9 August
Kolka (Latvia) max. 32.1°C, 9 August
Baker City (Oregon,USA) max. 42.8°C, 10 August
Pittsburg Landing (Idaho,USA) max. 48.3°C, 10 August:  New State record for Idaho (unofficial)
Cranbrook (Canada) max. 40.5°C, 10 August
Lethbridge (Canada) max. 40.5°C, 10 August
Fort Macleod (Canada) max. 40.1°C, 10 August
Claresholm (Canada) max. 39.7°C, 10 August
Queenstown (Canada) max. 40.2°C, 10 August
Craigmyle (Canada) max. 38.6°C, 10 August
Alliance (Canada) max. 38.9°C, 10 August
Gleichen (Canada) max. 38.3°C, 10 August
Calgary (Canada) max. 36.5°C, 10 August
Forestburg (Canada) max. 37.8°C, 10 August
Pincher Creek (Canada) max. 37.5°C, 10 August
Beaver Mines (Canada) max. 37.2°C, 10 August
Sundre (Canada) max. 37.2°C, 10 August
Val Marie (Canada) max. 40.9°C, 11 August
West Glacier (Montana,USA) max. 37.8°C, 11 August
Kurume (Japan) max. 38.6 °C, 12 August
Jeonju (South Korea) max. 38.9°C, 13 August
Otsu (Japan) max. 38.0°C, 13 August
Yuya (Japan) max. 36.7°C, 13 August
Kurume (Japan) max. 39.5°C, 3 August
Hita (Japan) max. 39.9°C, 13 August
Ureshino (Japan) max. 39.0°C, 13 August
Matsushima (Japan) max. 37.2°C,13 August
Minamata (Japan) max. 38.1°C, 13 August
Akune (Japan) max. 37.1°C, 13 August
Imari (Japan) max. 37.8°C, 14 August
Misumi (Japan) max. 38.3°C, 14 August
Imajo (Japan) max. 36.9°C, 14 August
Mihama (Japan) max. 38.2°C, 14 August
Yasaka (Japan) max. 35.6°C, 14 August
Tsuwano (Japan) max. 38.2°C,14 August
Uwa (Japan) max. 38.2°C, 14 August
Soeda (Japan) max. 37.8°C, 14 August
Chongju (South Korea) max. 39.1°C, 15 August
Daejeon (South Korea) max. 39.4°C, 15 August
Imsil (South Korea) max. 37.5°C, 15 August
Susa (Japan) max. 37.2°C, 21 August
Ose Seto (Japan) max. 36.7°C, 21 August
Takahata (Japan) max. 38.1°C, 22 August
Shinanomachi (Japan) max. 34.6°C,22 August
Tonami (Japan) max. 37.1°C, 22 August
Nanto Takamiya (Japan) max. 37.3°C, 22 August
Komatsu (Japan) max. 38.6°C, 22 August
Miyazu (Japan) max. 38.8°C, 22 August
Fukuchiyama (Japan) max. 39.6°C, 22 August
Sakai (Japan) max. 39.7°C,22 August
Sakai (Japan) max. 38.5°C, 22 August
Shiozu (Japan) max. 37.2°C, 22 August
Aoya (Japan) max. 38.4°C, 22 August
Lake Tazawa (Japan) max. 36.5°C, 23 August
Hongo (Japan) max. 37.8°C, 23 August
Yokote (Japan) max. 38.6°C, 23 August
Karumai (Japan) max. 36.2°C, 23 August
Yamagata (Iwate) (Japan) max. 36.4°C, 23 August
Aaraya (Japan) max. 35.0°C, 23 August
Yabukawa (Japan) max. 31.8°C, 23 August
Yuda (Japan) max. 34.9°C, 23 August
Kaneyama (Japan) max. 36.8°C, 23 August
Mousesuke (Japan) max. 38.2°C, 23 August
Takamine (Japan) max. 37.9°C, 23 August
Yonezawa (Japan) max. 37.7°C, 23 August
Soma (Japan) max. 37.6°C, 23 August
Wakamatsu (Japan) max. 38.5°C, 23 August
Murakami (Japan) max. 39.9°C, 23 August
Aikawa (Japan) max. 37.8°C, 23 August
Nakajo (Japan) max. 40.8°C, 23 August
Shimonoseki (Japan) max. 39.6°C, 23 August
Niigata (Japan) max. 39.9°C, 23 August
Hamo (Japan) max. 38.2°C, 23 August
Niitsu (Japan) max. 38.2°C, 23 August
Sanjo (Japan) max. 40.4°C, 23 August
Ogata (Japan) max. 40.0°C, 23 August
Itoigawa (Japan) max. 38.9°C, 23 August
Noshio (Japan) max. 36.7°C, 23 August
Shiga (Japan) max. 39.1°C, 23 August
Hakui (Japan) max. 37.8°C, 23 August
Kahoku (Japan) max. 39.2°C, 23 August
Kumatori (Japan) max. 36.1°C, 23 August
Maki (Japan) max. 38.9°C, 23 August
Ikuchijima (Japan) max. 37.4°C, 24 August

Five all-time national heat records broken in 2018

So far in 2018, five nations have broken an all-time record for hottest temperature in recorded history:

Palau: 95°F (35°C) at Koror on March 22
Algeria: 124.3°F (51.3°C) at Ourgla on July 5
Taiwan: 104.5°F (40.3°C) at Tianxiang on July 10
Japan: 106.0°F (41.1°C) at Kumagaya on July 23
South Korea: 105.8°F (41.0°C) at Hongcheon on August 1

No nations have set an all-time cold temperature record so far in 2018. Most nations do not maintain official databases of extreme temperature records, so the national temperature records reported here are in many cases not official. I use as my source for international weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera, one of the world's top climatologists, who maintains a comprehensive list of extreme temperature records for every nation in the world on his website. If you reproduce this list of extremes, please cite Maximiliano Herrera as the primary source of the weather records.

Thirty-five monthly national/territorial heat records so far in 2018

January: Marshall Islands
February: Marshall Islands, Falkland Islands, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Palau
March: Marshall Islands, Qatar, Armenia, Madagascar, Pakistan, Iraq, UAE, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan
April: Albania, Montenegro
May: Hong Kong, Norway
June: Oman, Marshall Islands, Cocos Islands
July: Iran, Namibia, Indonesia, El Salvador, Jordan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, South Korea
August: Japan
September: Qatar, Iraq
(Courtesy of Maximiliano Herrera.)

National monthly cold records in 2018: none

No national monthly records for cold were set in August 2018.

Continental/Hemispheric records in 2018

Highest temperature ever recorded in April in Asia: 50.2°C (122.4°F) at Nawabshah, Pakistan, 30 April
World record of the highest reliably-measured minimum temperature in 24 hours: 42.6°C (108.7°F) at Qurayyat, Oman, 26 June
African record of highest temperature: 51.3°C (124.3°F) at Ouargla, Algeria, 5 July
African record of the highest minimum temperature: 39.5°C (103.1°F) at Salah, Algeria, 29 July

We'll have a post summarizing the latest action in the tropics and on Florence's floods early this afternoon.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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Dr. Jeff Masters

Dr. Jeff Masters co-founded Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. in air pollution meteorology at the University of Michigan. He worked for the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990 as a flight meteorologist.

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