NOAA 2000-063
Contact: Pat Viets

But Hot Temperatures and Drought Persist in the South and West; January through July Warmest on Record

The average July 2000 surface temperature in the United States was above normal but far from a record, according to statistics calculated by NOAA's scientists working from the world's largest statistical weather database at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.

The average July temperature based on preliminary reports was 74.78 F, which is 0.47 F warmer than the 106-year average, making it the 38th warmest July since records began in 1895. Conditions were generally cooler and wetter than normal in the Northeast and Midwest regions, while warmer and drier than normal conditions continued to prevail across many states in the Deep South and western U.S. Pennsylvania and West Virginia experienced their coolest July on record and seven other Eastern states were much cooler than normal.

It was the 7th warmest July on record for Utah and warmer than normal in 15 other states. Although heavy precipitation fell in portions of the Northeast and Great Plains in July, below normal rains and hot conditions exacerbated drought conditions in portions of the West, South and Southeast. Thirty-one percent of the U.S. experienced severe to extreme drought conditions including portions of Texas where July 2000 was the driest July in the 106-year period of record. The above normal temperatures in combination with below-normal precipitation in southern and western states have intensified drought conditions and led to the worst wildfire season in 50 years for many western states. Nevada and Arizona experienced their second driest July and six other states (Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Utah) received much below average precipitation.

Although the average July temperature was far from record-breaking in the U.S., the abnormally warm conditions observed earlier this year made the January-July 2000 average temperature (54.85 F) the warmest such seven-month period on record. Every state in the contiguous U.S., except South Carolina, Maine, and Vermont was warmer than normal. Above average temperatures have been most persistent in the western half of the U.S. This was the warmest January-July on record for New Mexico, Texas and Utah. It was the second warmest for Colorado, Nevada, and Wyoming.

Fifteen states throughout the South and West were much drier than normal including Florida which experienced it's second driest year-to-date period. Conversely, wetter than normal conditions prevailed in 17 states, primarily in the Northeast and Midwest. For the nation, January - July 2000 was the 32nd driest such period since 1895.

For the Globe:

Average global surface temperatures were also warmer than normal in July 2000. The global land and ocean temperature was +0.59 F (+0.33 C) above the 1880-1999 long-term mean, the 7th warmest July on record and 0.65 F (0.36 C) cooler than the record set in 1998. Land surface temperatures were +0.88 F (+0.49 C) above average while the global sea surface temperature was +0.47 F (+0.26 C) warmer than the long-term mean. The average land and ocean temperature anomaly for the year-to-date period was +0.74 F (+0.41 C), the fourth warmest January-July period on record.

Temperatures in the lower half of the atmosphere (lowest 8 km or 26,200 feet of the atmosphere) were colder than the 20 year (1979-1998) average. Satellite data provided by scientists at NASA and the Global Hydrology and Climate Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville indicate that the average temperature in the lower half of the atmosphere was -0.16 F (-0.09 C) below average in July. The average January through July temperature was also -0.16 F below average, the 9th coolest such period since 1979.

Note to Editors: The statistics for July and the year-to-date are online at:
The site includes a special report on the fires in the West.