NOAA 2004-088
Contact: John Leslie

NOAA News Releases 2004
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Record Number of Named Atlantic Tropical Cyclones for August

The contiguous United States experienced its 16th coolest summer (June-August) on record and seventh coolest August, according to scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.CWhile much of the West, including Alaska, remained warmer than average, the majority of the nation had a cool summer, with Minnesota having its coldest August on recordMeanwhile, eight named tropical cyclones in the Atlantic basin broke a record for named storms during the month of AugustNOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

NOAA scientists report that the average temperature for the contiguous United States for June-August (based on preliminary data) was 71.1E F (21.7E C), which was 1.0E F (0.6E C) below the 1895-2003 mean, and the 16th coolest summer on recordThe mean temperature in 30 states was significantly below average, with only three states (Nevada, Washington and Oregon) averaging much warmer than the long-term meanAlaska had a record warm May, June and July and though final numbers are not yet available, August and the summer was very warm across the state.

Nationwide, June – August 2004 was the 10th wettest summer, with dryness remaining in parts of the Southwest and northern Plains, but the southern region (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas) had its wettest summer on recordSeven states in the contiguous U.S. had much wetter-than-average conditions for the summer, with Texas and Pennsylvania having their second and fourth wettest summers on record, respectively.

Below average summer precipitation occurred in many areas of the West, where drought has persisted for much of the past four to five yearsThe drier-than-average conditions, along with warmer-than-normal temperatures in the West, exacerbated the long-term drought conditions in some locationsReservoir levels also remained below average in many areasAt the end of the summer, 69 percent of the western United States was in moderate-to-extreme drought, compared with 76 percent at this time last year, based on a widely used measure of drought, the Palmer Drought Index.

Eight tropical systems in the Atlantic Basin during August were enough to break the record for the most named storms for any AugustSix of those storms affected the United States: Hurricane Alex brushed the Outer Banks of North Carolina; Tropical Storm Bonnie made landfall in Florida’s Panhandle; Hurricane Charley came ashore as a category four hurricane just north of Fort Myers, Fla., and affected much of the east coast; Tropical Storm Gaston affected the Carolinas and Virginia dumping as much as twelve inches of rain in parts of Virginia; Tropical Storm Hermine affected eastern Massachusetts and major Hurricane Frances moved westward across the Atlantic, eventually making landfall as a category two hurricane in Florida in early September.

The 2004 summer also brought weak El Niño-like conditions, as sea-surface temperatures increased throughout much of the central and east-central equatorial Pacific.

NOAA Satellites and Information is America’s primary source of space-based oceanographic, meteorological and climate dataIt operates the nation’s environmental satellites, which are used for ocean and weather observation and forecasting, climate monitoring, and other environmental applicationsSome of the oceanographic applications include sea-surface temperature for hurricane and weather forecasting and sea-surface heights for El Niño prediction.

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Note to Editors: A digital version of the press release including links to data, graphics and analysis, in addition to further national and global data are online at:

And a detailed summary of hurricane and tropical storm activity can be found on NCDC’s monthly hurricane summary page: