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August 2019: Earth's 2nd Warmest August on Record

September 16, 2019, 7:41 AM EDT

Above: An Indian youth stands on the top of a submerged portion of Arail Ghat as he prepares to jump into the flooded Yamuna River in Allahabad, India on August 21, 2019. Monsoon flooding in India during late July and August killed at least 287 people, making it the deadliest weather-related disaster of the month. Image credit: SANJAY KANOJIA/AFP/Getty Images.

August 2019 was the planet's second warmest August since record keeping began in 1880, said NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) and NASA on Monday. Only August 2016 was warmer, according to both agencies. The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) has not yet released its monthly report. NOAA rated August as tied with 2015 and 2017 for second warmest August. Minor differences in rankings between NASA, NOAA, and JMA can arise because of how they handle data-sparse regions such as the Arctic, where few surface weather stations exist.

Global ocean temperatures during August 2019 were the warmest on record, according to NOAA, and global land temperatures were the fourth warmest on record. Global satellite-measured temperatures in August 2019 for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere were the fourth warmest in the 41-year record, according to the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH).

For all months since 1880, NOAA ranked August 2019 as having the sixth largest departure from average on the warm side. Because most of the planet's land area is in the Northern Hemisphere, northern-summer months tend to be warmer globally than northern-winter months.

Departure of temperature from average for August 2019, the second warmest August for the globe since record keeping began in 1880
Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average for August 2019, the second warmest August for the globe since record keeping began in 1880, according to NOAA and NASA. Record-warm land areas for August were scattered around the globe, including parts of the U.S. Desert Southwest, western Alaska, far northern Canada and Russia, western and southern Africa, the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, northwest China, and far northern South America. No land or ocean areas had record cold August temperatures. Image credit: National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).

2019 a lock to be among the 5 warmest years in Earth’s recorded history

The January through August year-to-date period was the third warmest on record globally, behind 2016 and just behind 2017, according to NOAA. According to their global annual temperature ranking outlook, it is virtually certain that 2019 will end among the top five warmest years in Earth’s history. This means that the six warmest years on record globally since 1880 will be the last six years—2014 through 2019—with the peak occurring during the strong El Niño year of 2016. 

This near-record global warmth in 2019 is all the more remarkable since it is occurring during the minimum of the weakest solar cycle in 100+ years, and during a year when a strong El Niño has not been present (though a weak El Niño was present in the first half of 2019, ending in July). Record-warm global temperatures typically occur during strong El Niño events, and when the solar cycle is near its maximum. The near-record warmth of 2019 is thus a testament to how greatly human-caused global warming is impacting the planet.

Two billion-dollar weather disasters in August 2019

Two billion-dollar weather-related disasters hit the Earth last month, according to the August 2019 Catastrophe Report from insurance broker Aon: monsoon flooding in India, which has cost $5.5 billion, and Typhoon Lekima in China, which cost $9.3 billion. The 2019 tally of billion-dollar weather disasters is 20 as of the end of August. Hurricane Dorian (Bahamas, U.S., and Canada) and Typhoon Faxai (Japan) will end up being two others from September.

1.      Typhoon Lekima, China, 6/1 – 7/1, $9.3 billion, 73 killed
2.      Flooding, China, 6/1 – 7/1, $8.5+ billion, 225 killed
3.      Flooding, Iran, 3/17 - 4/9, $8.3 billion, 77 killed
4.      Flooding, India, 7/26 – 8/14, $5.5 billion, 287 killed
5.      Flooding, Central U.S., 3/12 – 3/31, $5 billion, 3 killed
6.      Flooding, Central U.S., 5/1 – 7/15, $4 billion, 0 killed
7.      Severe Weather, Rockies, Plains, Midwest, Southeast U.S., 5/26 – 5/31, $2.75 billion, 3 killed
8.      Flooding, Argentina, Uruguay, 1/1 - 1/20, $2.3 billion, 5 killed
9.      Cyclone Fani, India, Bangladesh, 5/3 – 5/5, $2+ billion, 89 killed
10.    Cyclone Idai, Mozambiqe, Zimbabwe, Malawi, 3/3 - 3/18, $2 billion, 1007+ killed
11.     Flooding, Australia, 1/28 - 2/7, $1.9 billion, 3 killed
12.     Drought, India, 1/1 – now, $1.75 billion, 0 killed
13.     Severe Weather, Plains, Midwest U.S., 3/23 – 3/25, $1.5 billion, 0 killed
14.     Windstorm Eberhard, Central & Western Europe, 3/10, $1.5 billion, 2 killed
15.     Severe Weather, Central/Eastern U.S., 2/22 - 2/26, $1.4 billion, 4 killed
16.     Severe Weather, Plains, Midwest, Southeast, Northeast U.S., 4/12 – 4/15, $1.1 billion, 9 killed
17.     Severe Weather, Plains, Midwest, Southeast U.S., 5/4 – 5/10, $1.1 billion, 1 killed
18.     Severe Weather, Central Europe, 6/10 – 6/12, $1.1 billion, 0 killed
19.     Severe Weather, Plains, Midwest, Southeast U.S., 3/12 – 3/17, $1 billion, 5 killed
20.     Drought, China, 5/1 – now, $1 billion, 0 killed

India flood
August billion-dollar disaster 1. Intense monsoonal rains brought widespread destructive flooding and landslides to India from July 26 to August 14. At least 287 people were left dead or missing and more than 50,000 homes and other structures damaged or destroyed. The states of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Kerala were the hardest-hit. Damage estimates in Maharashtra and Karnataka alone were $5.5 billion, and the nationwide cost will be higher. Above: A boatman rests on his boat in the flooded Ganges River under the Shastri bridge at Daraganj Ghat, in Allahabad on August 22, 2019. Image credit: Sanjay Kanojia/AFP/Getty Images.
Typhoon Lekima
August billion-dollar disaster 2. Typhoon Lekima made landfall as a 110-mph Category 2 storm in China’s Zhejiang Province on August 10. Lekima left at least 71 people dead or missing in China and 2 in Taiwan. Damage was estimated at $9.3 billion in China. Above: Waves hit a sea wall in front of buildings in Taizhou, China's eastern Zhejiang province, on August 9, 2019, during the approach of Typhoon Lekima. Image credit: AFP/Getty Images.

Neutral El Niño conditions reign

NOAA’s September 12 monthly discussion of the state of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) stated that neutral ENSO conditions existed, with neither an El Niño nor a La Niña event present. Over the past month, sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the benchmark Niño3.4 region of the eastern tropical Pacific have been near average, they said.

Forecasters at NOAA and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) are calling for a roughly 75% chance of neutral conditions continuing through the fall, with roughly 55 – 60% chance of continuing through the spring of 2020. The odds of an El Niño forming by spring were near 25%, and the odds of a La Niña event were near 15%. Neutral periods lasting more than a year are fairly infrequent; the only three such periods we’ve seen this century were in 2001-02, 2003-04, and 2012-14.

Departure of temperature from average
Figure 2. Departure of sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the benchmark Niño 3.4 region (in the equatorial Pacific) ending on September 13, 2019. SSTs were slightly above average through early August, then below average into early September. Image credit: Levi Cowan, tropicaltidbits.com.

August Arctic sea ice extent the second lowest on record

Arctic sea ice extent during August 2019 was the second lowest in the 40-year satellite record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). The annual minimum in sea ice extent may have already occurred on September 7; if so, 2019 would have the fourth lowest yearly minimum on record, behind 2012, 2007, and 2016. While the northern branch of the Northwest Passage through Canadian arctic waters is choked with ice and closed to navigation this year, the southern branch is likely open, according to NSIDC. The waters of the Northern Sea Route along the coast of Siberia have been open for ice-free navigation since late August.

Antarctic sea ice extent increased at a faster-than-average pace beginning in late July, climbing from a record low level on July 25 to about tenth lowest at the end of August.

Notable global heat and cold marks for August 2019

Hottest temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: 52.2°C (126°F) Khanaqin, Iran, 12 August
Coldest temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: -41.1°C (-42°F) at Geo Summit, Greenland, 23 August
Hottest temperature in the Southern Hemisphere: 41.6°C (106.9°F) at Walvis Bay, Namibia, 16 August
Coldest temperature in the Southern Hemisphere: -78°C (-113.4°F) at Dome Fuji, Antarctica, 14 August

(Courtesy of Maximiliano Herrera)

Major weather stations that set (not tied) all-time heat or cold records in August 2019

Among global stations with a period of record of at least 40 years, 36 set new all-time heat records in August. There were no stations that set all-time cold records.

Krems (Austria) max. 38.8°C, 1 August
Kisofukushima (Japan) max. 36.1°C, 1 August
Morino (Japan) max. 33.0°C, 2 August
Noboribetsu (Japan) max. 32.4°C, 3 August
Sabzevar (Iran) max. 46.0°C, 5 August
Birjand (Iran) max. 43.0°C, 5 August
Shahr e Kord (Iran) max. 39.0°C, 6 August 
Semaya (Japan) max. 36.4°C, 6 August
Tateshina (Japan) max. 35.6°C, 6 August
Ishikawa (Japan) max. 37.7°C, 7 August 
Nagawa (Japan) max. 33.8°C, 7 August
Kitakami (Japan) max. 37.0°C, 8 August
Funabiki (Japan) max. 35.0°C,  8 August  
Numata (Japan) max. 37.5°C, 8 August
Daigo (Japan) max. 39.0°C, 9 August 
Mount Terminillo (Italy) max. 28.9°C, 12 August
Hassakah (Syria) max. 50°C, 13 August:  New national record high for Syria 
Takayama (Japan) max. 37.7°C, 13 August
Koide (Japan) max. 38.6°C, 13 August  
Kawamoto (Japan) max. 37.5°C, 13 August  
Chaya (Japan) max. 34.1°C, 13 August  
Kudamatsu (Japan) max. 36.6°C, 13 August
Takada (Japan) max. 40.3°C, 14 August
Kırsehir (Turkey) max. 40.5°C, 14 August
Gojome (Japan) max. 38.1°C, 15 August
Nikaho (Japan) max. 38.1°C, 15 August  
Nukegaseki (Japan) max. 40.4°C, 15 August  
Awashima (Japan) max. 37.0°C, 15 August  
Aikawa (Japan) max. 38.1°C, 15 August  
Ryotsu (Japan) max. 38.8°C, 15 August  
Nou (Japan) max. 36.9°C, 15 August  
Suzu (Japan) max. 38.2°C, 15 August  
Shiga (Japan) max. 40.1°C, 15 August  
Hakui (Japan) max. 39.6°C, 15 August
Wake Island (United States Minor Outlying Islands, USA) max. 36.6°C:  New Territorial record high for the United States Minor Outlying Islands
Fengjie (China) max. 42.4°C, 17 August

Eighteen all-time national/territorial heat records set or tied in 2019

As of September 15, all-time high temperature records have been tied or broken in eighteen of the world’s nations and territories, making 2019 already the second most prolific year on record for all-time national heat records. The largest number of all-time national/territorial heat records set or tied in a single year was the 22 heat records that occurred in 2016, according to international records researcher Maximiliano Herrera; 2017 holds third place with 14 heat records. Here are 2019’s national heat records, as of September 15, with notations by Herrera at the end:

Christmas Island (Australia): 31.6°C (88.9°F), 19 January
Reunion Islands (France): 37.0°C (98.6°F), 25 January
Angola: 41.6°C (106.9°F), 22 March
Togo: 43.5°C (110.3°F), 28 March (later tied on 4 April)
Vietnam: 43.4°C, (110.1°F), 20 April
Jamaica: 39.1°C (102.4°F) at Shortwood Teacher’s College, 22 June
France: 46.0°C (114.6°F) at Verargues, 28 June
Andorra: 39.4°C (102.9°F) at Borda Vidal, 28 June
Cuba: 39.1°C (102.4°F) at Veguitas, 30 June
Jersey (crown dependency of Britain): 36.0°C (96.8°F) at Jersey Airport, 23 July (record tied)
Belgium41.8°C (107.2°F) at Begijnendijk, 25 July
Germany: 41.2°C (108.7°F) at Tonisvorst and Duisburg, 25 July*
Luxembourg: 40.8°C (105.4°F) at Steinsel, 25 July
Netherlands: 40.7°C (105.3°F) at Gilze Rijen, 25 July
United Kingdom: 38.7°C (101.7°F) at Cambridge, 25 July
Norway: 35.6°C (96.1°F) at Laksfors, 27 July (record tied)**
Syria: 50.0°C (122.0°F) at Hasakah, 13 August***
Wake Island (United States Minor Outlying Islands): 36.6°C (97.9°F) at Wake Airfield, 15 August

* The official national record of 42.6°C measured the same day at Lingen is irregular and totally incompatible with nearby stations' data and with the atmospheric conditions. The station has a history of overexposure and of being unreliable and is set to be moved. Despite this, the record was made official by the German DWD. Overexposure is estimated to be about 2°C.

** This tied record was dismissed by the Norwegian Met. Service on weak grounds despite being reliable and compatible with nearby stations' data and the atmospheric conditions. Confoundingly, the totally unreliable and irregular records set in August 1901—30 years before the installment of the first reliable temperature shelter with a Stevenson Screen in Oslo—have not been dismissed.

*** The Hasakah, Syria station has 1°C precision. The max temperature of 50.0°C is supported by nearby stations, so the record can be accepted.

No all-time national cold records have been set thus far in 2019. Most nations do not maintain official databases of extreme temperature records, so the national temperature records reported here are in many cases not official. If you reproduce this list of extremes, please cite Maximiliano Herrera as the primary source of the weather records. Jérôme Reynaud also tracks all-time and monthly national extreme temperature records at geoclimat.org (in French language).

Eighty-three monthly national/territorial heat records beaten or tied in 2019 as of September 15

Note that the national monthly records list below excludes the all-time national records for any month, which are listed above. If we add together these totals, there have been 100 monthly national/territorial heat records beaten or tied in 2019; zero monthly cold records have been set.

January: Micronesia, Paraguay, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Palau
February: Chile, Marshall Islands, Guyana, United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Andorra, Austria, Hungary, Jersey, Guernsey, Slovakia, San Marino, Slovenia, Angola, Papua New Guinea
March: Australia, Marshall Islands, India, Kenya, Northern Marianas
April: Angola, Togo, French Southern Territories, Mayotte, Taiwan, Kenya, Mauritius
May: Kenya, Indonesia, Niger, French Southern Territories, Syria, Tonga, Laos, Vietnam, Japan, Israel, Cyprus, Turkey
June: India, Tonga, Namibia, Lithuania, Senegal, Qatar, Chile, Laos, Vietnam, Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, St. Barthelemy
July: Iran, Wallis and Futuna, Namibia, Jordan, Israel, Hong Kong, Chile, Bonaire, Mauritius
August: Taiwan, Cape Verde, Namibia, Wallis and Futuna, Kenya
September: Brunei, Oman, Niger, Saba, Nicaragua

(Courtesy of Maximiliano Herrera)

Zero monthly national/territorial cold records beaten or tied in 2019 (as of September 15)

No monthly national cold records have been beaten or tied in 2019.

Hemispheric and continental temperature records in 2019

- Highest minimum temperature ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere: 35.9°C (96.6°F) at Noona, Australia, 18 January. The record was beaten again on 26 January, with a minimum temperature of 36.6°C (97.9°F) recorded at Borrona Downs, Australia. This is also the highest minimum temperature on record for the globe for the month of January.

- Highest temperature ever recorded in the world in March: 48.1°C (118.6°F) on 10 March at Roebourne, Australia.

- Highest temperature ever recorded in Asia in March: 46.9°C (116.4°F) at Kapde, India, 25 March. The data comes from a state (not central government) station, and may not be officially recognized, but is supported by data from several nearby stations.

- Highest minimum temperature ever recorded in June in the Southern Hemisphere: 28.9°C (84.0°F) at Funafuti, Tuvalu on 15 June

- Highest minimum temperature ever recorded in August in the Southern Hemisphere (tie): 28.2°C (82.8°F) at Funafuti, Tuvalu on 15 August

Bob Henson contributed to this post.

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 and flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986 to 1990. He authors the blog "Eye of the Storm" at Scientific American.

weatherman.masters@gmail.com

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