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August 2021 was sixth hottest recorded August since 1880 » Yale Climate Connections

August 2021 was Earth’s sixth-hottest August since global record-keeping began in 1880, 0.90 degree Celsius (1.62°F) above the 20th-century average, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, NCEI, reported September 14. NASA also reported August 2021 as the sixth-hottest August on record, approximately 1.1 degrees Celsius (2°F) above the 1880-1920 period, which is its best estimate of preindustrial temperature.

The month’s heat was focused more on land areas than ocean areas, showing human impact: August 2021 global ocean temperatures were the sixth warmest on record, according to NOAA, while global land areas experienced their second warmest August on record. Asia had its second hottest August on record; South America, Africa, and Oceania had a top six warm August; and North America had its ninth warmest August on record.

Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average for August 2021, the sixth warmest August for the globe since record keeping began in 1880. (Image credit: NOAA/NCEI)

January-August ranked as Earth’s sixth warmest such period on record. According to NCEI’s annual temperature outlook, the year 2021 is virtually certain to rank among the 10 warmest years on record, and more than 95% likely to fall in the range of sixth- to seventh-warmest on record.

Warmest summer on record for U.S.

As detailed in our post last week, the contiguous U.S. states experienced their hottest summer on record in 2021 (a statistical tie with the notorious Dust Bowl summer of 1936). The list below, compiled by weather historian Christopher Burt (author of Extreme Weather), includes many of the U.S. towns and cities with long periods of record (PORs) that had their warmest summer on record, based on average temperature for June through August. Other stations with shorter PORs may also have had their warmest summer on record. Temperatures are in degrees Fahrenheit:

Site/period of record Old record/year New record
Omak/1909- 74.7/1926 76.1
Spokane/1881- 72.7/2015 73.1
Medford/1911- 76.4/2015 76.8
Salem/1893- 71.3/2015 71.7
Eugene/1912- 69.5/2015 69.8
Burns/1939- 69.2/1961 69.6
Bend*/1901- 66.9/2015 68.2
* 12 days are missing from the Bend data for summer of 2021.    
Bishop/1895- 78.0/2018 78.9
Blue Canyon/1948- 70.3/2017 72.2
Fresno/1887- 85.3/2017 85.5
Barstow/1943- 89.9/2016 91.0
Palm Springs/1922- 94.7/2017 95.3
Elko/1890- 71.7/2013 72.7
Winnemucca/1877- 72.5/1931 75.3
Reno/1893- 77.2/2017 77.4
Ely/1893- 68.3/2017 68.6
Eureka/1963- 69.4/2018 70.3
Tonopah/1954- 76.1/2017 76.4
Boise/1877- 76.6/2015 78.0
Lewiston/1881- 74.2/1961 77.9
Sandpoint/1910- 66.7/2003 68.7
Salt Lake City/1874 80.9/2017 80.9
Winslow/1915- 78.7/2020 79.4
Duluth/1874- 67.4/2012 67.8
Minneapolis/1872- 75.4/1988 75.6
Sault Ste. Marie/1888- 67.2/1955 68.0
First Connecticut Lake/1918- 63.8/2020 64.4

Three billion-dollar weather disasters in August; 30 so far in 2021

Earth experienced three billion-dollar weather disasters in August 2021, according to Aon: Hurricane Ida in the U.S. ($43-64 billion), a drought in China ($2.3 billion), and Tropical Storm Fred in the U.S. ($1.1 billion), giving the Earth 30 billion-dollar weather disasters so far in 2021, Aon reported. The record for an entire year is 50 billion-dollar weather disasters, set in 2020. Below are the details on August’s disasters.

Figure 2. Billion-dollar weather disasters of January-August 2021, according to Aon (except for Hurricane Ida, with damage figures from Core Logic).

August billion-dollar weather disaster #1  

Tropical Storm Fred made landfall in the Florida Panhandle on August 16 with top sustained winds of 65 mph, killing seven and doing $1.1 billion in damage. Fred is one of only eight tropical storms that, without reaching hurricane strength, inflicted more than $1 billion in damage to the U.S. The others:

Tropical Storm Eta (2020, FL, NC, VA): $1.5 billion, 12 deaths;
Tropical Storm Imelda (2019, Texas): $5.1 billion, five deaths;
Tropical Storm Lee (2011, Eastern U.S.): $3 billion, 21 deaths;
Tropical Storm Isidore (2002, LA, MS, AL, TN): $1.2 billion, five deaths;
Tropical Storm Allison (2001, TX, LA, MS, FL, VA, PA): $12.7 billion, 43 deaths;
Tropical Storm Frances (1998, TX, LA): $1.1 billion, two deaths; and
Tropical Storm Alberto (1994, FL, GA, AL): $1.8 billion, 32 deaths.

August billion-dollar weather disaster #2 

Hurricane Ida made landfall at Port Fourchon, Louisiana, on August 29 as a category 4 storm with 150 mph winds. Core Logic estimates Ida’s damage in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama at $27-40 billion. Ida moved up the East Coast and unleashed a devastating flood event over much of the mid-Atlantic and northeastern U.S., and Core Logic estimates those damages at between $16-24 billion. These estimates put Ida’s total destruction at $43-64 billion, which would make it one of the top-10 most expensive weather disasters in world history. Aon has not yet released a damage estimate for Ida.

August billion-dollar weather disaster #3 

Drought conditions in China since the beginning of 2021 were estimated to have cost $2.3 billion, according to Aon.

A La Niña Watch remains in effect

Neutral conditions were in place during August, NOAA reported in its September monthly discussion of the state of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation, or ENSO. However, the agency continued its La Niña Watch, as it expects arrival of a La Niña event in the coming Northern Hemisphere winter.

Over the past month, sea surface temperatures in the benchmark Niño 3.4 region of the eastern tropical Pacific (5°N-5°S, 170°W-120°W) were 0.2-0.3 degree Celsius below average. The range for “weak” La Niña conditions is 0.5-1.0 degree Celsius below average.

The NOAA and Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society forecast for the November-December-January period is for a 79% chance of La Niña, 21% chance of ENSO-neutral, and a 0% chance of El Niño. The predicted La Niña event is expected to be a weak one. Historically, about half of all winter La Niña events (such as the one during the 2020-2021 winter) have continued into or re-emerged during the following winter.

Figure 3. Departure of sea surface temperature (SST) from average in the benchmark Niño 3.4 region of the eastern tropical Pacific (5°N-5°S, 170°W-120°W). Temperatures were 0.2-0.3 degree Celsius below average over the past month. (Image credit: Tropical Tidbits)

Arctic sea ice: 10th-lowest August extent on record

Arctic sea ice extent during August 2021 was the tenth-lowest in the 43-year satellite record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). Low pressure and cloudy skies have dominated the Arctic this summer, leading to one of the highest ice extents since 2007.

Antarctic sea ice extent during August ranked as the fifth-highest on record.

Greenland: first rain falls at summit in recorded history

On August 14, 2021, rain was observed at the highest point on the Greenland Ice Sheet for several hours. According to NSIDC, that rain was the first recorded at the Summit Station (elevation 3,216 meters or 10,551 feet). Temperatures were above freezing for about nine hours during the day, and August 14 was the fourth time since 1995 that the Summit Station had above-freezing temperatures and wet snow. Earlier melt events in the instrumental record occurred in July of 1995, 2012, and 2019. Prior to 1995, ice cores show that a melting event occurred in the late 1800s.

The August 14 melting event was caused by circulation around a strong low-pressure center over Baffin Island and high air pressure southeast of Greenland, which pulled warm, moist air rapidly from the south.

Notable global heat and cold marks for August 2021

The information below is courtesy of Maximiliano Herrera. Follow him on Twitter: @extremetemps:

– Hottest temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: 52.2°C (126.0°F) at Death Valley, U.S., August 4;
– Coldest temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: -35.0°C (-31.0°F) at Summit, Greenland, August 31;
– Hottest temperature in the Southern Hemisphere: 41.6°C (106.9°F) at Sao Felix do Araguaia, Brazil, August 26;
– Coldest temperature in the Southern Hemisphere: -79.0°C (-110.2°F) at Vostok, Antarctica, August 11;
– Highest 2021 average temperature to date (Jan.-Aug.) in the Southern Hemisphere: 29.6°C (85.3°F) at Surabaya Airport, Indonesia; and
– Highest 2021 average temperature to date (Jan.-Aug.) in the Northern Hemisphere: 32.8°C (91.0°F) at Yelimane, Mali.

August 2021 major weather stations’ new all-time heat or cold records: 87 all-time heat records, no all-time cold records

Among global stations with a record of at least 40 years, 87 set, not just tied, all-time heat records in August; no stations set an all-time cold record:

Durres (Albania) max. 40.2°C, August 1;
Rumoi (Japan) max. 35.6 °C, August 1;
Mashike (Japan) max. 34.2°C, August 1;
Yellowknife (Canada) max. 32.6°C, August 2;
Drama (Greece) max. 42.1°C, August 2;
Karystos (Greece) max. 41.6°C, August 3;
Athens Hellinikon Airport (Greece) max. 43.0°C, August 3;
Aydin (Turkey) max. 45.1°C, August 3;
Tongdao (China) max. 38.1°C, August 3;
Luxian (China) max. 41.9°C, August 3;
Neijiang (China) max. 40.7°C, August 4;
Kamikineusu (Japan) max. 33.1°C, August 4;
Furukawa (Japan) max. 36.5°C, August 4;
Tobishima (Japan) max. 35.1°C, August 4;
Uralsk (Kazakhstan) max. 42.3°C, August 4;
Kasaoka (Japan) max. 38.0°C, August 5;
Shobara (Japan) max. 38.1°C, August 5;
Fukuyama (Japan) max. 38.5°C, August 5;
Ikuchijima (Japan) max. 37.5°C, August 5;
Higashikawa (Japan) max. 37.0°C, August 6;
Fukagawa (Japan) max. 36.1°C, August 6;
Washikura (Japan) max. 29.4°C, August 6;
Tatsuno (Japan) max. 36.4°C, August 6;
Niitsu (Japan) max. 39.2°C, August 6;
Koide (Japan) max. 39.0°C, August 6;
Daejeon (Japan) max. 39.2°C, August 6;
Kakeya (Japan) max. 37.2°C, August 6;
Kawamoto (Japan) max. 37.9°C, August 6;
Yaei (Japan) max. 35.8°C, August 6;
Tottori (Japan) max. 39.2°C, August 6;
Tokusa (Japan) max. 36.4°C, August 6;
Asahi (Japan) max. 37.2°C, August 7;
Asahikawa (Japan) max. 37.9°C, August 7;
Biei (Japan) max. 37.1°C, August 7;
Kamifurano (Japan) max. 37.5°C, August 7;
Furano (Japan) max. 38.5°C, August 7;
Rokugo (Japan) max. 37.4°C, August 7;
Yagishiri (Japan) max. 31.6°C, August 7;
Tappu (Japan) max. 38.7°C, August 7;
Ishikari Numata (Japan) max. 36.9°C, August 7;
Sorachi Yoshino (Japan) max. 36.8°C, August 7;
Horonuka (Japan) max. 35.9°C, August 7;
Kashiwazaki (Japan) max. 38.1°C, August 7;
Wassamu (Japan) max. 36.8°C, August 7;
Pippu (Japan) max. 36.9°C, August 7;
Kamikawa (Japan) max. 35.1°C, August 7;
Shibetsu (Japan) max. 37.0°C, August 7;
Shibinai (Japan) max. 35.3°C, August 7;
Hakodate (Japan) max. 33.9°C, August 7;
Takano (Japan) max. 38.6°C, August 7;
Uzura (Japan) max. 34.7°C, August 7;
Gunge (Japan) max. 37.1°C, August 8;
Jendouba (Tunisia) max. 49.0°C, August 9;
Tunis (Tunisia) max. 48.9°C, August 10;
Bizerte (Tunisia) max. 48.9°C, August 10;
Bejaia (Algeria) max. 48.4°C, August 10;
Relizane (Algeria) max. 47.8°C, August 11;
Sidi Bouzid (Tunisia) max. 47.4°C, August 11;
Kelibia (Tunisia) max. 43.5°C, August 11;
Kairouan (Tunisia) max. 50.3°C, August 11: New national record high for Tunisia;
Siracusa (Italy) max. 48.8°C, August 11: New national record high for Italy;
Massa (Italy) max. 39.7°C, August 12;
Canefield Airport (Dominica) max. 35.8°C, August 12: New national record high for Dominica;
Dammam (Saudi Arabia) max. 51.0°C, August 13;
Fes Airport (Morocco) max. 46.7°C, August 13;
Miliana (Algeria) max. 46.8°C, August 13;
Toledo (Spain) max. 44.2°C, August 13;
Cuenca (Spain) max. 41.5°C, August 13;
Soria (Spain) max. 38.5°C, August 13;
Calamocha (Spain) max. 39.9°C, August 13;
Torrejon de Ardoz (Spain) max. 42.0°C, August 13;
Avila (Spain) max. 38.8°C, August 14;
Teruel (Spain) max. 41.3°C, August 14;
Pamplona AP (Spain) max. 41.6°C, August 14;
Granada AP (Spain) max. 46.0°C, August 14;
Montoro (Spain) max. 47.4°C, August 14;
Albacete (Spain) max. 43.3°C, August 14;
Madrid Cuatro Vientos (Spain) max. 42.2°C, August 14;
Madrid Getafe (Spain) max. 42.6°C, August 14;
Madrid Barajas AP (Spain) max. 42.7°C, August 14;
Murcia (Spain) max. 47.0°C, August 15;
Yelabuga (Russia) max. 39.2°C, August 20;
Sarapul (Russia) max. 38.6°C, August 21;
Izhevsk (Russia) max. 38.1°C, August 21;
Birsk (Russia) max. 37.4°C, August 21;
Bru (Iceland) max. 27.3°C, August 24; and
Grimsey Island (Iceland) max. 22.3°C, August 25.

10 all-time national/territorial heat records set or tied in 2021

As of August 31, 2021, 10 nations or territories had set or tied an all-time reliably-measured national heat record:

United Arab Emirates:  51.8°C (125.2°F) at Sweihan, June 6 (tie);
Oman: 51.6°C (124.9°F) at Joba, June 16;
Canada: 49.6°C (121.3°F) at Lytton, June 29 (record beaten 3 consecutive days);
U.S.: 54.4°C (130°F) at Death Valley Furnace Creek, California, July 9 (tie);
Morocco: 49.6°C (121.3°F) at Sidi Slimane, July 10 (tie);
Turkey: 49.1°C (120.4°F) at Cizre, July 20;
Taiwan: 40.6°C (105.1°F) at Taimali, July 25;
Tunisia: 50.3°C (122.5°F) at Kairouan, August 11;
Italy: 48.8°C (119.8°F) at Siracusa, August 11; and
Dominica: 35.8°C (96.4°F) at Canefield Airport, August 12.

One all-time national/territorial cold record set or tied in 2021

As of August 31, 2021, one nation or territory had set or tied an all-time national cold record:

United Arab Emirates (for places at low elevations): -2.0°C (28.4°F) at Raknah, January 9.

Sixty-seven monthly national/territorial heat records beaten or tied as of August 31

– January (10): Mexico, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Japan, Malta, Tunisia, Turkey, Russia, Georgia, Spain;
– February (12): Iraq, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, South Korea, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Croatia, Slovakia, Poland, Sweden, Pakistan, Northern Mariana Islands;
– March (14): Northern Mariana Islands, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Pakistan, Oman, Jersey, Guernsey, Germany, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, US Virgin Islands;
– April (4): South Africa, Northern Mariana Islands, Hong Kong, Tajikistan;
– May (8): Northern Mariana Islands, Taiwan, Russia, Qatar, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Dominica, Saba;
– June (8): Cocos Islands, Congo Brazzaville, Mexico, Belarus, Estonia, Malta, Tunisia, Botswana;
– July (1): Cocos Islands; and
– August (10): Qatar, Mexico, Morocco, Spain, Andorra, Iceland, Gabon, Botswana, Kenya, Philippines.

Five monthly national/territorial cold records beaten or tied as of August 31

– April (2): Slovenia, Switzerland;
– June (2): Saba, Paraguay; and
– July (1): Namibia

Hemispherical and continental temperature records in 2021

– Highest minimum temperature ever recorded in April in the Southern Hemisphere: 31.7°C (89.1°F), at Vioolsdrif, South Africa, April 13;
– Highest minimum temperature ever recorded in May in Europe: 29.4°C (84.9°F), at Zymbragou, Greece, May 2;
– Highest minimum temperature ever recorded in June in North America: 40.3°C (104.5°F), at Stovepipe Wells, U.S., June 18;
– Highest reliable temperature on Earth: 54.4°C (130°F) at Death Valley Furnace Creek, California (U.S.), July 9 (129.9°F measured there in August 2020 was also rounded to 54.4°C);
– Highest minimum temperature ever recorded in North America and the highest minimum temperature in the world in July: 42.0°C (107.6°F) at Stovepipe Wells, California (U.S.), July 11;
– Highest minimum temperature recorded in July in Europe: 34.3°C (93.7°F), Kalymnos, Greece, July 31;
– Highest minimum temperature recorded in August in Europe: 35.2°C (95.4°F), Plakias, Greece, August 3; and
– Highest temperature ever recorded in Europe: 48.8°C (119.8°F), Siracusa, August 11.

Bob Henson contributed to this post.

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