National Overview

July Extreme Weather/Climate Events

July Highlights

July Temperature

  • The contiguous U.S. average temperature during July was 75.5°F, 1.9°F above the 20th century average, tying with 1954 and 2003 for 13th warmest July in the 127-year record.
  • Temperatures were above average to record warm across the West, much of the northern Plains and portions of the mid-Atlantic and Southeast. Washington, Oregon, California and Nevada each had their warmest July on record with five additional states across the West and northern Plains having a top-10 warm month.
    • From June 26 to July 19, Boise, ID, reported 24 consecutive days where the maximum daily temperature was at least 95°F. This shattered the record of 18 days set back in July 1960.
    • Death Valley, CA, reached 130°F on July 9. This was the hottest temperature reported across the U.S. during July and the warmest temperature reported at Death Valley since July 12, 2020.
    • Needles, CA, reported a new all-time high temperature of 122°F on July 10. The previous record of 121°F occurred in 2003.
    • St. George, UT, reached 117°F on July 11, tying the statewide all-time high temperature also set in St. George back in 1985.
    • Winslow, AZ, also reported a new all-time high temperature of 110°F on July 10. The previous record of 109°F occurred in 1971.
    • On July 9, Grand Juction, CO, broke its all-time warmest temperature on record with 107°F reported. The previous record was 106°F set back in 2005.
    • Many other locations across the western U.S. set or tied their all-time record high daily temperatures during July.
  • Despite the extreme warmth across the western U.S., temperatures were below average across portions of the southern and central Plains, Midwest, Southeast and Northeast.
  • A ridge of high pressure across the western U.S and a trough across the eastern U.S. for most of July kept the temperatures well-above average across the West and more moderate across the central and eastern states. This pattern remained in place for the duration of the month. An eastward shift in the ridge mid-month allowed the southwestern monsoon to kick off.
  • The contiguous U.S. average maximum (daytime) temperature during July was 87.7°F, 1.1°F above the 20th century average, ranking in the warmest one-third of the record. Above-average to record-warm maximum temperatures were observed across much of the West and northern Plains. Oregon ranked warmest on record for daytime temperatures. Daytime temperatures were below average across portions of the Southwest and from the Deep South to the Great Lakes and into New England as well as across portions of the Southeast.
  • The contiguous U.S. average minimum (nighttime) temperature during July was 63.2°F, 2.7°F above the 20th century average, ranking fourth warmest on record. Minimum temperatures were above average to record warm across most of the West and the northern Plains as well as in portions of the central Plains, Great Lakes, Northeast, mid-Atlantic, Southeast and Gulf Coast. Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California and Nevada each ranked warmest on record for overnight temperatures. Nighttime temperatures were below average across parts of the central and southern Plains.
  • The Alaska average July temperature was 53.7°F, 1.0°F above the long-term mean and ranked in the warmest third of the historical record for the state.
    • Areas that experienced above-average precipitation across western Alaska during July also had temperatures that were below average.
    • Above-average temperatures occurred across much of the eastern half of Alaska and across the Aleutians.
    • The Alaskan wildfire season, to-date, is well-below average.
  • Based on data received by August 9, there were 6,746 record warm daily high (2,496) and low (4,250) temperature records during July, which is nearly 2.5 times the 2,737 record cold daily high (1,188) and low (361) temperature records.
  • Based on NOAA's Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index (REDTI), the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand during July was 134 percent of average and the 33rd highest value in the 127-year period of record.

July Precipitation

  • The July precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 3.36 inches, 0.58 inch above average, ranking sixth wettest in the historical period of record.
  • Precipitation was above average across much of the Northeast, parts of the Southwest, South, Southeast, Midwest and Great Lakes. New York and Massachusetts ranked wettest on record for July.
    • Following two relatively inactive monsoon seasons in the Southwest, the ridge of high pressure over the West shifted slightly to the east and the monsoon returned in mid-July bringing record rainfall and flash flooding to portions of the Southwest.
    • Tucson, AZ, had its wettest July and month on record with 8.06 inches of precipitation.
  • Precipitation was below average across much of the Northwest, Northern Tier and portions of the central Plains, Midwest and central Appalachians. Minnesota ranked second driest while Washington ranked fourth driest.
  • Hurricane Elsa formed in the Atlantic Ocean in early July and made landfall in Cuba before reemerging in the Gulf of Mexico and making landfall as a tropical storm in Florida.
    • Elsa brought flooding, tornadoes and damage to portions of Georgia and the Carolinas as well as flooding in parts of the Northeast. At least 17 were injured and one fatality was reported.
    • Elsa was the earliest fifth-named storm on record.
  • While Elsa tracked up the East Coast, heavy rainfall impacted much of coastal and southern Texas from July 6 - 9. Storm totals exceeded 12 to 18 inches and caused river and flash flooding across the region.
  • Alaska received near-average precipitation during July, but regional amounts varied greatly. Precipitation was above average across much of western Alaska and below average across eastern Alaska. Kotzebue had its wettest July and month on record while Nome and Bethel each had their wettest July since the 1920s.
  • According to the August 3 U.S. Drought Monitor, approximately 46 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, down from about 47 percent at the end of June. Drought intensified and/or expanded across portions of the northern Plains, northern Rockies, Northwest and from the Great Basin to the Pacific Coast. Drought also emerged across portions of Alaska and intensified across Maui in Hawaii. Drought severity lessened across the Northeast, Great Lakes and portions of the Southwest and central Rockies. Nearly 90 percent of the 11 states across the western U.S. are experiencing some level of drought.

Year-to-Date Highlights

January-July Temperature

  • The year-to-date (January-July) contiguous U.S. average temperature was 53.0°F, 1.8°F above average, ranking 14th warmest on record.
  • January-July temperatures were above average across the West, northern and central Plains, Great Lakes, Northeast, mid-Atlantic and portions of the Southeast. California, Oregon and Nevada each had their fourth-warmest year-to-date period on record with 11 additional states across the West, northern Plains, Northeast and Southeast experiencing a top-10 warmest January-July.
  • Temperatures were below average across portions of the South.
  • The contiguous U.S. average maximum (daytime) temperature during January-July was 64.8°F, 1.6°F above the 20th century average, ranking in the warmest third of the historical record. Temperatures were above average across much of the West, northern Plains, Great Lakes, Northeast and parts of the Southeast. Daytime temperatures were below-average across much of the South and from the central Gulf Coast to the Midwest.
  • The contiguous U.S. average minimum (nighttime) temperature during January-July was 41.2°F, 1.9°F above the 20th century average, ranking in the warmest third of the record. Nighttime temperatures were above average across most of the Lower 48 with pockets of below-average temperatures in the South.
  • The Alaska statewide average temperature for this year-to-date period was 27.1°F, 1.3°F above average and ranked in the middle one-third of the record. Temperatures were above average across much of Bristol Bay, Northwest Gulf and the Aleutian regions with near-average temperatures present across much of the rest of the state.
  • Based on REDTI, the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand during January-July was 65 percent of average and was the 20th lowest value on record.

January-July Precipitation

  • The year-to-date national precipitation total was 18.00 inches, 0.09 inch below average, ranking in the middle one-third of the January-July record.
  • Precipitation was above average from the southern and central Plains to the Midwest and into portions of the Southeast. Mississippi ranked sixth wettest for the first seven months of the year.
  • Precipitation was below average from the West Coast to the western Great Lakes. Minnesota and North Dakota each ranked third driest while Montana ranked fourth driest on record.
  • Precipitation across Alaska ranked in the wettest third of the historical record.

Other Notable Events

  • Wildfire activity exploded across the drought-stricken portions of the West, especially the Northwest, during July. As of July 31, 37,650 fires have burned through 2,982,960 acres during the first seven months of 2021. This is nearly 1 million more acres than were consumed by this time last year and about 1 million fewer acres burned than the 2011-2020 year-to-date average.
    • With multiple large fires burning across the West, forecasts for worsening conditions and a potential shortage of resources, on July 14, the National Multi-Agency Coordination Group raised the national Preparedness Level (PL) to the highest category — level 5. This is the earliest PL5 issued in the past 10 years.
    • As of July 31, the largest fire across the U.S., the Bootleg Fire, located in Oregon, has consumed more than 413,000 acres and was 56 percent contained.
    • The second largest fire in the U.S., the Dixie Fire, located in northern California, burned more than 240,000 acres and was 24 percent contained.
    • Heavy smoke from these and many other fires across the western U.S. and Canada contributed to low air quality across the U.S. during July.

Extremes

  • The U.S. Climate Extremes Index (USCEI) for the year-to-date period was 36 percent above average and ranked in the highest one-third of the 112-year period of record. Extremes in warm maximum and minimum temperatures as well as dry PDSI were the major contributors to this elevated CEI value. The USCEI is an index that tracks extremes (occurring in the upper or lower 10 percent of the record) in temperature, precipitation and drought across the contiguous United States.
    • On the regional scale, the West ranked third highest on record for this seven-month period while the Northwest, Southwest and Northeast regions ranked above average. Elevated to record-levels of extremes in the West, Northwest and Southwest regions were due to large areas of warm maximum and minimum temperatures, as well as dry PDSI. Elevated extremes across the Northeast were due to warm maximum and minimum temperatures and extremes in 1-day precipitation.

Regional Highlights

These regional summaries were provided by the six Regional Climate Centers and reflect conditions in their respective regions. These six regions differ spatially from the nine climatic regions of the National Centers for Environmental Information.

Northeast Region (Information provided by the Northeast Regional Climate Center)

    The Northeast’s July average temperature of 69.3 degrees F (20.7 degrees C) was 0.9 degrees F (0.5 degrees C) below normal. Eight of the 12 Northeast states experienced a cooler-than-normal July, with average temperatures ranging from 2.6 degrees F (1.4 degrees C) below normal in Maine to 1.0 degree F (0.6 degrees C) above normal in Delaware, its 14th warmest July. Of note, the high temperature of 60 degrees F (15.6 degrees C) on July 3 in Boston, Massachusetts, tied several other years as the site’s coolest July high temperature on record.

    It was the third wettest July since 1895 in the Northeast, with 6.53 inches (165.86 mm) of precipitation, 150 percent of normal. State precipitation ranged from 67 percent of normal in West Virginia, the state’s 15th driest July, to 269 percent of normal in Massachusetts, the state’s wettest July on record. New York also had its wettest July on record, while seven additional states had one of their 15 wettest Julys: New Hampshire, second wettest; Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Vermont, third wettest; New Jersey and Pennsylvania, eighth wettest; and Maine, 15th wettest. This July was the wettest on record for Concord, New Hampshire; Worcester, Massachusetts; Binghamton, New York; and Huntington, West Virginia. In addition, eleven major climate sites saw their greatest number of July days with measurable precipitation, with Albany, New York, tying its record for all months (21 days). Furthermore, four sites set or tied their record for greatest number of July days with at least one inch (25.4 mm) of precipitation, including Binghamton which tied its record for all months (four days). In addition, three sites set/tied their record for greatest number of July days with at least two inches (50.8 mm) of precipitation.

    The U.S. Drought Monitor released on July 1 showed 4 percent of the Northeast in severe drought, 17 percent in moderate drought, and 21 percent as abnormally dry, primarily in northern New England and New York. Much of the region saw plentiful precipitation during July, alleviating drought and abnormally dry conditions in several locations such as coastal Maine and southern New Hampshire. However, dryness persisted in areas that missed out such as western Maine, northern Vermont, and Cape Cod, Massachusetts. In addition, abnormal dryness was introduced in portions of West Virginia and western Maryland that also saw below-normal precipitation. The U.S. Drought Monitor released on July 29 showed 1 percent of the Northeast in severe drought, 7 percent in moderate drought, and 14 percent as abnormally dry. Some locations in northern New England and New York saw daily record or near-record low streamflow during July. Interestingly, daily record low streamflow was measured in drought areas of northern New Hampshire on the same day that daily record high flows were measured in southern New Hampshire, which saw record-setting July rainfall. According to the Maine Drought Task Force, some recreations flows were curtailed on the Androscoggin and Kennebec rivers due to below-normal water levels. Below-normal water levels on Lake Champlain and other waterways in Vermont also affected recreational activities. Some locations in northern New England and New York also saw daily record or near-record low groundwater levels during July. Some wells ran dry or experienced water shortages in Maine and Vermont. As of July 22, 15 dry wells had been reported in Maine. Ninety community water systems in New Hampshire had water restrictions in place as of July 21, with 80 of them having mandatory restrictions. A blueberry farm in Maine did not open for the season because their blueberry bushes did not produce blooms or fruit due to dry conditions. Some New Hampshire farmers went from dealing with drought conditions to overly wet conditions. July rainfall helped revive some crops in Vermont and Maine and reduced the need for irrigation for some New Hampshire and Maine farmers. In early July, one area in Maine had seen as many fires through early July as it typically sees in an entire year; however, rain later in the month eased wildfire danger in much of the state. Dry conditions over the past year in New Hampshire contributed to an abundance of leaf litter and other fuels for wildfires so officials planned to perform controlled burns along the White Mountain National Forest as a preventative measure. Ant colonies thrived in Maine due to the dry conditions.

    Tropical Storm Elsa produced heavy rain, strong winds, and tornadoes in the Northeast from July 8 to 10. The greatest rainfall totals generally ranged from 3 to 6 inches (76 to 152 mm), with the highest totals in Connecticut and Maine. Southern New England and New York’s Long Island experienced flash flooding, leading to impassable roads, stranded vehicles, and waterlogged yards. Wind gusts of up to 67 mph (30 m/s) brought down tree limbs and wires, particularly in coastal areas. Two tornadoes, as well as straight-line winds of up to 100 mph (45 m/s), downed trees, snapped power poles, and caused structural damage in coastal New Jersey. In addition, a waterspout was spotted off the coast of New Jersey and rough surf was reported along the Mid-Atlantic and New England coastlines. On several days in late July, portions of the Northeast experienced poor air quality and hazy skies due to smoke from western U.S. and Canada wildfires. Wet July weather led to reduced tourism in New Hampshire. There were numerous days during July with severe weather or flash flooding, with several noteworthy examples listed below.

  • Significant Events
  • July 1 – Four weak tornadoes touched down in the region, two in Delaware and two in Washington, D.C. Straight-line winds of up to 80 mph (36 m/s) were reported in Prince Georges, Anne Arundel, and Dorchester counties in Maryland, as well as Washington, D.C. The storms downed trees, caused roof and siding damage, overturned campers and trailers, and flattened crops. Five people were injured in Washington, D.C. when a building that was under constructions collapsed. Two waterspouts were spotted near the New Jersey and Delaware coasts.
  • July 8 – An EF-1 tornado took the roofs off houses and damaged trees and crops in Oneida County, New York. Tennis ball-sized hail fell in Bergen County, New Jersey. The New York City metro area experienced significant flash flooding, with several subway stations inundated with water, impassable roads, and multiple water rescues, including over a dozen people rescued on the Major Deegan Expressway in the Bronx.
  • July 11 - Straight-line winds of up to 110 mph (49 m/s) in Centre County, Pennsylvania, snapped and uprooted trees, damaging several campsites and some vehicles. In Perry County, Pennsylvania, a person was injured when a tree fell on a van, trapping a family. A State of Emergency was declared for part of Broome County, New York, where flash flooding left vehicles trapped in high water, washed out several roads and a bridge, and some residents were evacuated from their homes.
  • July 12 – A Flash Flood Emergency was declared for eastern Bucks and northeastern Philadelphia counties in Pennsylvania and western Burlington County in New Jersey when as much as 10 inches (254 mm) of rain fell within a few hours, causing significant flash flooding. Roads were inundated by as much as six feet (1.8 m) of water, stranding vehicles. Floodwaters swamped buildings, including an apartment complex where residents were trapped and rescued and that was later deemed uninhabitable. Numerous water rescues were performed across the three-county area.
  • July 17 – Several areas from Maryland to southern New England experienced flash flooding. After an NJ Transit bus got trapped in floodwaters in Essex County, New Jersey, its 22 occupants climbed onto the roof and were rescued by boat. The Mount Hope River near Warrenville, Connecticut, rose seven feet (2.1 m) in just over two hours, reaching major flood stage and, based on preliminary data, reaching its second highest crest on record. In addition, an EF-1 tornado caused significant tree damage in Burlington County, New Jersey. One person was injured in Pendleton County, West Virginia, when a tree went through the windshield of a vehicle.
  • July 20 – A State of Emergency and travel ban were declared for Niagara County, New York, due to widespread flash flooding. Roads, basements, and vegetable fields were inundated, some with feet of water. Hailstones, some as large as tennis balls, shredded dozens of acres of crops. It was only the second time on record that hail of 2.50 inches (63.5 mm) or larger has been reported in the county since 1950.
  • July 29 – At least 18 tornadoes touched down in the region: 13 in Pennsylvania, five in New Jersey (including one that traveled into New Jersey from Pennsylvania), and one in Maryland. The strongest tornado, an EF-3 in Bucks and Philadelphia counties in Pennsylvania, caused substantial structural damage to homes and buildings, destroyed cars, and left five people with minor injuries. It was the first F3/EF-3 tornado in those counties since recordkeeping began in 1950. Another tornado, an EF-2 that traveled from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, to Mercer County, New Jersey, led the Philadelphia/Mount Holly National Weather Service office to issues its first-ever “particularly dangerous situation” tornado warning. An EF-2 tornado in Ocean County, New Jersey, damaged at least a dozen homes and resulted in a few minor injuries. Two waterspouts were reported, one off the Delaware coast and another off the Maine coast. In addition, straight-line winds caused minor damage in coastal New Jersey and eastern Delaware and flash flooding led to impassable roads, stranded vehicles, and water rescues in several locations including northern West Virginia, southern New Hampshire, and parts of New Jersey.

  • For more information, please visit the Northeast Regional Climate Center Home Page.

Midwest Region (Information provided by the Midwest Regional Climate Center)

  • July temperatures averaged close to normal for nearly all of the Midwest. Average temperatures were within 2 degrees F (1.1 C) of normal for all but the northwestern third of Minnesota, it was 2 to 4 degrees F (1.1 to 2.2 C) above normal. The region averaged 72.5 degrees F (22.5 C) which was 0.3 degrees F (0.2 C) below normal. Statewide temperatures were 2.0 degrees F (1.1 C) above normal in Minnesota, right at normal for Wisconsin and Michigan, and slightly below normal for the other six Midwest states. There were fewer daily extreme temperatures than most months, with fewer than 50 of each record high maximum temperatures and record low minimum temperatures. Most of the daily records were record low maximum temperatures (just over 300, mostly from the 8th to the 13th) and record high minimum temperatures (just under 100, mostly during the first and last week of July).
  • July precipitation varied considerably across the Midwest. Totals ranged from less than 1.00 inches (25 mm) in northwestern Minnesota to areas with more than 6.00 inches (152 mm) in portions of each of the other eight states in the region. The totals ranged from less than 25 percent of normal in northwestern Minnesota to more than 200 percent of normal in southern Illinois and northern Michigan. Regionwide precipitation was 3.75 inches (95 mm) which was 0.34 inches (9 mm) below normal. Statewide totals were below normal in Minnesota (37 percent), Iowa (73 percent), and Wisconsin (79 percent). The other six states were above normal with amounts ranging from 106 percent of normal in Missouri to 120 percent of normal in Ohio. There were more than 400 daily precipitation records in July with the 15th to the 17th each having over 40 records set. One of the driest locations in July was Redwood Falls, Minnesota receiving just 0.17 inches (4 mm) while Cedar Rapids, Iowa (0.79 inches or 20 mm), St. Cloud, Minnesota (0.83 inches or 21 mm), and Minneapolis, Minnesota (0.87 inches or 22 mm) also received under 1.00 inches (25 mm) for the month. Sioux City and Cedar Rapids, both in Iowa, had just a trace of precipitation from July 17th to the end of the month and a dozen stations across six states had less than 0.20 inches (5 mm) over that 15-day period. Five stations in Minnesota, with periods of record of at least 50 years, set new monthly records for the least July precipitation in their histories.
  • The area of the Midwest affected by drought shrunk slightly in July, from 30.9 to 27.3 percent, however the areas in severe and extreme drought increased during the month. Extreme drought increased from just 0.2 percent to 3.7 percent of the region and severe drought went from 7.0 to 16.7 percent. At the beginning of the month there was extreme drought along the Wisconsin-Illinois border near Lake Michigan. That area eased to severe drought in July, but Minnesota went from mostly moderate drought with a little severe drought to mostly severe drought with some large areas of extreme drought. At the end of the month, 75 percent of the state was in severe drought or worse, including 22 percent of the state in extreme drought.
  • Severe weather was reported on 25 of 31 days in July across the Midwest with all nine states impacted. Reports were in double digits on 16 days and reached triple digits on three days. The busiest day of the month was on the 28th with more than 200 reports, over half of which came from Wisconsin. Tornadoes were reported on nine days in July with the peak coming from Iowa on the 14th. That day in Iowa saw at least two dozen tornadoes across the state, including an EF3 tornado in Calhoun County and an EF2 in Bremer and Butler counties. Iowa also had the busiest day for hail on the 9th, including a handful of reports of baseball-sized hail. Of the region’s hail reports (180), nearly half occurred on the 9th (79), with well over half of that day’s reports coming from Iowa (52).
  • Smoke from the western wildfires impacted the Midwest. Especially in the western and northern parts of the region, smoke was visible and hazy conditions were common due to the smoke. Sunsets were redder than normal on numerous occasions in the region due to enhanced scattering of the sunlight due to airborne smoke.

  • For further details on the weather and climate events in the Midwest, see the weekly and monthly reports at the Midwest Climate Watch page.

Southeast Region (Information provided by the Southeast Regional Climate Center)

  • Temperatures were near average across much of the Southeast region for the month of July. Monthly mean temperatures were within 2 degrees F (1.1 degrees C) of normal for over 94 percent of the 154 long-term (i.e., period of record equaling or exceeding 50 years) stations across the region. There were only a handful of stations that observed monthly mean temperatures that were ranked within their ten warmest values on record, including Tampa, FL (1890-2021; 2nd warmest) and Coloso, PR (1899-2021; T-4th warmest). Maximum temperatures ranged from 4 degrees F (2.2 degrees C) above normal in Celo, NC (1948-2021) to 6.1 degrees F (3.4 degrees C) below normal in Orangeburg, SC (1953-2021). Daily temperature minimums ranged from 2.9 degrees F (1.6 degrees C) above normal in Melbourne, FL (1937-2021) to 2 degrees F (1.1 degrees C) below normal in Chatham, VA (1922-2021). The coldest weather of the month across the Southeast occurred on the 3rd and 4th, as the circulation around a departing mid-latitude cyclone ushered in unseasonably cold, dry air from Canada. Daily minimum temperatures ranged from 50 to 65 degrees F (10 to 18.3 degrees C) across portions of every state north of Florida, with some locations in the higher elevations of North Carolina and Virginia falling below 50 degrees F. Augusta, GA (1871-2021) had a minimum temperature of 58 degrees F (14.4 degrees C), making this the coldest 4th of July minimum on record. In contrast, the warmest weather of the month occurred from the 29th through the 31st, as the circulation around the Bermuda High, situated off the Atlantic coast, transported warm, humid air northward over much of the Southeast region. Daily maximum temperatures exceeded 95 degrees F (35 degrees C) across portions of every state. Daily minimum temperatures as high as 77 degrees F (25 degrees C) was observed as far north as Richmond, VA (1887-2021; 3rd warmest on July 30th) and 75 degrees F (24 degrees C) in Roanoke, VA (1912-2021; 1st warmest on July 30th).
  • Precipitation varied across the region for July, with the driest locations found across much of Virginia, eastern North Carolina, and southern Florida. Monthly precipitation totals ranged from 70 to less than 25 percent of normal across these locations. Indeed, Norfolk, VA (1871-2021) only measured 2.6 inches (66 mm) of precipitation, which was more than 3.4 inches (86 mm) below average. In contrast, the wettest locations were located across most of Alabama, central South Carolina, and northern Florida. Precipitation totals ranged from 150 to 200 percent of normal. Gainesville, FL (1890-2021) received 13.99 inches (355 mm) of precipitation, over 7 inches (178 mm) above normal, making this the 6th wettest July on record. From the 6th through the 9th, Hurricane Elsa impacted the region, causing heavy rainfall and strong thunderstorms. Brunswick, GA (1948-2021) observed 4.43 inches (113 mm) of rain on the 7th making this the 3rd wettest July day on record. The North Port, FL CoCoRaHS station measured 10.08 inches (256 mm) of rain on July 7th and 19.72 inches (501 mm) for the month, making this the wettest station in the region for the month of July. Flooding in North Port, FL continued for days after Elsa passed the city due to rainwater that soaked more rural northern areas draining down south towards the city. Search and rescue teams were deployed to rescue several people from floodwaters, after they drove their vehicles into flooded streets. The only fatality in the Southeast from Elsa was due to a tree falling on cars in Jacksonville, FL, killing a 26-year old man. From the 26th through 28th, tropical moisture from the Atlantic interacting with a stationary front produced heavy rainfall across the Carolinas, with 2-day precipitation totals exceeding 5 inches (127 mm) and numerous reports of localized flooding. Greenville/Spartanburg, SC (1884-2021) received 3.68 inches (93 mm) of rain on the 26th, making this the 4th wettest July day on record.
  • There were 489 reports of severe weather across the Southeast during June, which is 82 percent of the median monthly frequency of 598 reports during 2000-2019. There were 17 confirmed tornadoes reported for the month (1 EF-U, 8 EF-0, 7 EF-1 and 1 EF-2), 170 percent of the monthly average of 10. Fifteen of these tornadoes occurred with Hurricane Elsa from July 7th – 8th, including an EF-2 tornado in Camden County, GA. Maximum wind speed was estimated at 128 mph (57 m/s). This tornado produced significant damage to an RV park near Kings Bay Base. There were multiple RVs flipped over, and one was blown about 200 feet into the lake just north of the RV park. Fortunately, no injuries or fatalities were reported. On July 1st, a supercell thunderstorm produced two tornadoes in Arlington, VA and Washington, D.C. The EF-1 tornado with winds of 90 mph (40 m/s) damaged trees at the National Mall and around the Lincoln Memorial. No injuries or fatalities were reported with either tornado. There were 13 reports of hail for the month, with the largest being billiard-ball sized (2.25 inches) in Stafford County, VA on July 29th, which significantly damaged many vehicles. There were 457 wind reports for the month, which is 86 percent of the average (531 reports). Damaging straight-line winds were also observed with the July 29th supercell in Stafford County, VA. These winds reached a maximum peak of 90 mph (40 m/s) and uprooted several trees. Unfortunately, there were four people struck by lightning this month. The two fatalities from lightning include a 17-year old man in Marco Island, FL on the 17th and a 41-year old man in Sanibel Island, FL on the 24th. On July 26th an 18 year-old and a 50 year-old were struck in Buckingham, VA, and managed to drive themselves to the hospital with injuries.
  • Drought conditions slightly improved across the Southeast region for July, as adequate rainfall fell in the driest areas. Consequently, abnormally dry conditions (D0) were confined to western North Carolina and the western part of Virginia, with a small pocket of moderate drought (D1) in western Virginia. Abnormally dry conditions (D0) were eliminated from Florida. Drought remained the same across Puerto Rico, with an area of moderate drought (D1) in the southern part of the island ringed by an area of abnormally dry conditions (D0). The citrus growing region in Florida experienced seasonable conditions with normal grove activities. The seasonable weather allowed for vegetable growers to prepare land for fall planting. Frequent rainfall events in Georgia increased pest pressures. Stink bugs were noted on cotton and army worms, and maggots were observed in pastures. Late planted cotton struggled to recover from the wet conditions in July, thereby limiting much needed fertilizer and herbicide applications. Stink bugs and armyworms were also a major issue across Alabama due to the wetter conditions. Higher temperatures during the day and nighttime caused stress on livestock. Disease pressure caused by high humidity was reported in the Midlands and Lowcountry of South Carolina. However, most of the spring and summer vegetable crops were harvested and producers finalized their plans for fall vegetable production.

  • For more information, please visit the Southeast Regional Climate Center Home Page.

High Plains Region (Information provided by the High Plains Regional Climate Center)

    Drought continued to expand and intensify in western and northern parts of the region, with warm and dry conditions leading to numerous impacts. Several crops, along with pastures and rangeland were faring poorly, especially across North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. For example, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, this year’s spring wheat crop has been severely impacted by the drought, coming in as the worst-rated crop since 1988, nationally. In the High Plains, as of July 25th, 69 percent of South Dakota’s spring wheat crop was rated poor to very poor, while 61 percent of North Dakota’s spring wheat crop was rated poor to very poor. Meanwhile, pasture and range conditions were also in very rough shape, with 85 percent rated in poor to very poor condition in North Dakota and 72 percent rated poor to very poor in South Dakota.

    Even drought outside of the High Plains region has had impacts here. Large wildfires burning in areas of California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington have brought smoky skies and poor air quality to parts of the region and beyond this month. Many who are sensitive to the impacts of poor air quality were advised to take precautions during this time.

    One area of the region that has had recent improvements in drought is Colorado. But, the longer-term impacts of drought and last year’s historic wildfire season are still being realized. Flooding in burn scar areas has become quite an issue this summer, especially with the increase in monsoonal moisture. For instance, according to Colorado Public Radio, I-70 in the Glenwood Canyon area has been closed nearly 10 times due to mudslides this summer. At the end of July, a mudslide closed the interstate yet again, trapping travelers until it was safe to leave. Many even stayed on the interstate overnight. The damage from these mudslides was so extensive that Governor Polis planned to issue a state disaster declaration, in addition to requesting a federal disaster declaration. Parts of the interstate could be closed for weeks or longer.

  • Temperature
  • Temperatures varied across the region this month, with the dividing line between warmer and cooler areas stretching from south-central Colorado through northeastern Nebraska. Areas to the north and west of this line were above normal, while areas to the south were generally near to below normal. The highest departures in the region occurred across North Dakota, northwestern South Dakota, and northern and western Wyoming, where monthly average temperatures were 4.0-8.0 degrees F (2.2-4.4 degrees C) above normal. These above-normal temperatures led to many locations ranking in the top 10 warmest Julys on record (see page 6 for more details). For instance, Bismarck, ND had an average temperature of 78.8 degrees F (26.0 degrees C), which was 7.5 degrees F (4.2 degrees C) above normal. Despite this large departure, this month’s temperature was a distant second to the record of 83.3 degrees F (28.5 degrees C) that occurred during the Dust Bowl year of 1936 (period of record 1874-present). Extreme heat was a common occurrence this month in Bismarck with 7 days at or above 100.0 degrees F (37.8 degrees C). This tied for the second most 100.0 degrees F (37.8 degrees C) on record for any month. The record of 12 days occurred in July 1936 as well.

    It is also worth noting that many daily records were set across the region this month. The most notable record occurred on July 9th, when Grand Junction, CO had its highest temperature ever at 107.0 degrees F (41.7 degrees C). This new record was just slightly higher than the previous record of 106.0 degrees F (41.1 degrees C) that was set on July 21, 2005 (period of record 1893-present).

  • Precipitation
  • July was a dry month for much of the High Plains, except for several isolated pockets of above-normal precipitation. This contrast in precipitation was especially pronounced in Colorado. For instance, Pueblo, CO had its 3rd wettest July on record with 5.27 inches (134 mm), while Denver had its 9th driest July with only 0.34 inches (9 mm) (Pueblo period of record 1888-present; Denver period of record 1872-present).

    Portions of the Northern Plains continued to be crippled by drought. North Dakota was especially dry with the majority of the state receiving less than 50 percent of normal precipitation. This led to many locations ranking in the top 10 driest Julys on record. For instance, Grand Forks had its driest July with a paltry 0.42 inches (11 mm) of precipitation (period of record 1893-present). This was 3.10 inches (79 mm) below normal. Just to the south, Fargo received only 22 percent of normal precipitation with 0.66 inches (17 mm). It is worth noting that, since January 1st, much of eastern North Dakota has received less than 50 percent of normal precipitation. Elsewhere in the High Plains, several areas received no more than 25 percent of normal precipitation. This included north-central Wyoming, eastern Colorado, and central Kansas. The tri-state area of Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas was also very dry for the month of July, with no relief likely in the near future.

    With peak severe weather season over for most of the High Plains, every state except for Colorado was below 50 percent of their yearly total for tornadoes, according to the Storm Prediction Center. To further emphasize how quiet of a severe weather season it has been for the region, several states have had their lowest year-to-date number of severe weather warnings since the 1990s (based on data going back to 1986). South Dakota and Nebraska both have the lowest number of severe weather warnings (thunderstorm and tornado warnings) since 1995. Kansas has been especially quiet, with the lowest number of warnings since 1990. Despite this overall slow month, a storm on the 9th of July did pack a punch across Nebraska. In the western part of the state, a 4.25-inch (11 cm) hailstone fell outside of Hemingford. Meanwhile, winds ravaged the eastern part of the state causing large swaths of damage. The Storm Prediction Center had multiple reports of 80 mile per hour (129 km/h) plus winds, with an impressive 96 mile per hour (155 km/h) wind gust recorded at Eppley Airfield in Omaha.

    Generally, streamflows were below normal to much below normal within drought-stricken areas of the region, with record low flows reported in isolated areas of northwestern Colorado, northwestern and south-central Wyoming, western North Dakota, and southwestern Nebraska. In mid-July, the Bureau of Reclamation announced that, for the first time, emergency releases of water from reservoirs in the region will be required to help meet the needs for hydroelectric power at Glen Canyon Dam on Lake Powell in Arizona. These included the Flaming Gorge Reservoir on the Green River in Wyoming and Utah, the Blue Mesa Reservoir on the Gunnison River in Colorado, and Navajo Lake on the San Juan River in New Mexico and Colorado. Other areas of the region had near to above-normal streamflows, with some areas of eastern Kansas, central Nebraska, and central Colorado having much above normal streamflows.

    Although there were some minor improvements, overall, drought continued to expand and intensify across the High Plains region this month. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the area experiencing drought (D1-D4) increased slightly from about 55 percent to just over 57 percent. The area experiencing abnormally dry and drought conditions (D0-D4) also increased from approximately 68 percent to 72 percent.

    Drought persisted across the Northern Plains this month with many impacts to agriculture and water resources. In North Dakota, despite some improvements in extreme (D3) and exceptional drought (D4), the entire state remained in drought from mid-June through the end of July. Meanwhile, South Dakota had a 5 percent increase in D3 and Wyoming had an expansion of severe drought (D2) along with D3 across southwestern and northern parts of the state. By the end of the month, about 93 percent of Wyoming was experiencing drought conditions, which was a 9 percent increase from the end of June.

    Elsewhere, monsoonal rains helped to improve conditions in parts of southwestern Colorado, while recent dry conditions led to the development of drought in northwestern Kansas, as well as southwestern and south-central Nebraska. Throughout the rest of the region, other minor adjustments to drought conditions were made. According to the U.S. Monthly Drought Outlook for August, drought development is likely across much of Nebraska and pockets of South Dakota.

  • For more information, please visit the High Plains Regional Climate Center Home Page.

Southern Region (Information provided by the Southern Regional Climate Center)

  • Summary
  • July 2021 was among the top 20 Julys historically for mild temperatures and plentiful rain.

  • Temperatures
  • Every state in the Southern Region was cooler than its long-term median, partly because of unusually heavy rainfall. The most exceptional temperatures were found in Oklahoma, where the average temperature of 79 degrees F (26.1 degrees C) was more than 10 degrees F (6 degrees C) below the record highest value and less than 3 degrees F (2 degrees C) above the record lowest value. Temperatures in Arkansas and Texas also were among the coolest 25 Julys on record, with 78.6 degrees F (25.9 degrees F) for Arkansas and 80.6 degrees F (27 degrees C) for Texas. Louisiana was the warmest state overall, at 81.2 degrees F (27.3 degrees C). Few high temperature records were set at long-term stations, but they included New Orleans setting a record for July 26 at 97 degrees F (36.1degrees C). Conversely, over a hundred daily records were set for lowest maximum temperature, most of them in Texas, and most on or around the Fourth of July. Madisonville, Texas, which has 73 years of data, recorded its lowest ever maximum temperature in July with 76 degrees F (24.4 degrees F) on July 13. The new record lasted for two days, until 75 degrees F (23.9 degrees C) on July 15. Waco Dam, also in Texas, had its lowest July temperature ever, reaching 55 degrees F (12.8 degrees C) on July 19.

  • Precipitation
  • All states in the Southern Region reported above-median precipitation for July. The largest average precipitation amount was found in Mississippi, with 7.47 inches (190 mm). This ranked 10th wettest on record. Texas also saw particularly large amounts of rain, with 4.90 inches (124 mm) ranking 12th historically. Arkansas’ precipitation total placed it 28th wettest, while Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Tennessee barely ranked among the top 50. Six long-term stations across the region had their wettest July on record, highlighted by Nashville International Airport at 8.74 inches (222 mm) and Rockport, Texas, at 21.09 inches (536 mm). Including the Nashville weather station prior to its relocation to the International Airport, it was the second wettest July in 148 years of records. Notably, almost all of the precipitation across the region occurred without any direct influence from tropical cyclones.

  • Drought
  • What was left of drought in the region continued to shrink during July. Less than 1 percent of the region was classified as being in drought according to the July 27 US Drought Monitor, and less than 4 percent was instead abnormally dry. This is the smallest amount of drought coverage across the region in over two years. The remaining drought areas were in northwest Oklahoma and the Big Bend region of Texas. Despite the generally favorable drought conditions, dryness emerged in northwestern Oklahoma and northeastern Tennessee during the month, leading mostly to concerns and problems for ranchers. Generally, excess precipitation was a greater concern, particularly among agricultural producers.

  • Severe Weather
  • Severe weather was largely absent across the region. Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee collectively reported a handful of severe or damaging wind events and only a single severe hail observation. Hail and high winds were more widespread across Texas and Oklahoma, but the largest hail was 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter. There were no tornadoes reported anywhere in the region.

  • For more information, please visit the Southern Regional Climate Center Home Page.
  • Western Region (Information provided by the Western Region Climate Center)

      Warm and dry conditions were found across the Pacific Northwest, northern Rockies, northern California, and northern Great Basin leading to further drought expansion throughout the month. This pattern also enabled increased wildfire activity and smoke related air quality issues across the region. In contrast, an active monsoon brought a wet pattern to the Four Corners region and parts of the Great Basin helping to improve the short-term drought conditions. This is a welcome change after two years in a row with below normal monsoon rains for the region.

      Well above normal precipitation and record wetness in some cases was the big story in the Southwest. Statewide, Arizona recorded its second wettest July since 1895 based on gridded PRISM data from the WRCC State Climate Tracker. Tucson, Arizona received 8.06 in (204.7 mm; 365 percent of normal) making it not only the wettest July on record but the wettest month ever recorded since 1946. Phantom Ranch, Arizona, in Grand Canyon National Park, logged 2.54 in (65.5 mm; 276 percent of normal) of rain for the third wettest July on record. Moist flow and thunderstorms extended into southwest California where Death Valley National Park recorded its wettest July since records began in 1911 with 1.45 in (36.8 mm; 1450 percent of normal); this is nearly double the second wettest value of 0.75 in (19 mm) set in 2013 and 1954. Above normal precipitation was much more isolated in the northern Great Basin, but some areas did receive beneficial rainfall. Idaho Falls, Idaho recorded 1.38 in (35.1 mm; 300 percent of normal) for the fifth wettest July on record. Western Oregon, Washington, and northern Idaho were particularly dry with many areas receiving less than 5 percent of normal precipitation for the month.

      Widespread record warmth was observed throughout California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, and Utah. The following locations all broke records for warmest monthly mean July temperature: Salem, Oregon at 73.3 degrees F (22.9 degrees C), +4 degrees F (+2.2 degrees C) above normal, Boise, Idaho at 83.8 degrees F (28.8 degrees C), +6.5 degrees F (+3.6 degrees C) above normal, Salt Lake City, Utah at 85.7 degrees F (29.8 degrees C), +4.6 degrees F (+2.6 degrees C) above normal, Bakersfield, California at 90 degrees F (32.2 degrees C), +5.2 degrees F (+2.9 degrees C) above normal, and Winnemucca, Nevada at 80.1 degrees F (26.7 degrees C), +5.6 degrees F (+3.1 degrees C) above normal. The active monsoon pattern brought increased cloud cover and below normal temperatures to southern Arizona and southern/eastern New Mexico where temperatures were in the range of 1-3 degrees F below normal for the month.

      At the end of July 90 percent of the West was in drought with 59 percent in severe or exceptional drought. Combined warm and dry conditions in northern California, the Pacific Northwest, and northern Rockies increased both drought severity and fire danger. Two category degradations in the US Drought Monitor were found throughout the month in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana with exceptional drought (D4) present in all four states. Warm temperatures continued to cure already dry vegetation and enabled fires that did start to spread rapidly and produce extreme fire behavior with massive smoke plumes and poor air quality. At the end of July, a cluster of more than three dozen large wildfires was burning in northeast Oregon, eastern Washington, northern Idaho, and western Montana with many of these requiring Type 1 and Type 2 incident management teams (significant firefighting resources).

      In Alaska precipitation was well above normal in the west and northwest and well below normal in the central/eastern Interior, Copper River Basin, and Panhandle. Kotzebue logged its wettest July since 1929 with 5.32 in (135.1 mm; 333 percent of normal) and Nome recorded its second wettest since 1908 with 6.41 in (162.8 mm; 273 percent of normal). In the Panhandle, Juneau saw its 11th driest July since 1895 logging 2.35 in (29.7 mm; 38 percent of normal) and in the Interior, Northway received 0.81 in (20.6 mm; 28 percent of normal). Combined dryness and above normal temperatures in the Interior led to introduction of abnormally dry (D0) and moderate drought (D1) in the US Drought Monitor. Several large fires were burning at the end of July in the drought covered areas.

      In Hawaii below normal precipitation was found throughout the region except for Kauai. Kahului, Maui tied the third driest July with just a trace of precipitation; the normal for the month is 0.53 in (13.5 mm). Honolulu, Oahu saw its seventh driest July since 1940 with 0.08 in (2 mm; 15 percent of normal). On the Big Island, Halepohaku (located at 9,260 feet elevation on Manua Kea) received only 0.22 in (5.6 mm; 14 percent of normal). Small areas of severe drought (D3) were added to Maui due the continued dryness.

  • Significant Events
    • Lake Powel Hits Record Low: On July 24 Lake Powell, the nations second largest reservoir, dropped below 3,555.1 feet elevation bringing it to the lowest level since 1969 when it was first filled and to 33 percent of capacity. Due to the low water level emergency water releases from several upstream reservoirs in multiple states will take place in the coming months to maintain hydropower production at Glen Canyon Dam. Lake Powell feeds into Lake Mead downstream, the nations largest reservoir, which is already at a record low water level. The low water levels will for the first time trigger an official federal shortage declaration later this summer impacting primarily Nevada and Arizona.

    • For more information, please go to the Western Regional Climate Center Home Page.

    Citing This Report

    NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: Monthly National Climate Report for July 2021, published online August 2021, retrieved on August 16, 2022 from https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/access/monitoring/monthly-report/national/202107.

    Metadata

    https://data.nodc.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/iso?id=gov.noaa.ncdc:C00674