The June gloom may have never relented in California, and Pacific Northwesterners may have shivered through a particularly cool June through August, but for the United States as a whole, this past summer was particularly hot.
According to data just released by the National Climatic Data Center, it was the fourth warmest June through August period on record in the U.S. While some areas, such as California and the Pacific Northwest, were cool or near normal, some other regions suffered through particularly sweltering conditions, including the Northeast (fourth hottest), Central region (third hottest), and Southeast (hottest on record).
The summer was also notable for climatic extremes. According to NOAA:
NCDC’s Climate Extremes Index (CEI) for summer 2010 was about one-and-a-half times its historical average. The CEI measures the occurrence of several types of climate extremes (like record or near-record warmth, dry spells or rainy periods). Factors contributing to this summer’s value: a very large area with extremely warm nighttime low temperatures (six times larger than average and the largest since 1910) and an above-average number of days with average to heavy precipitation.
The lack of extremely hot and dry conditions since January here in the West helped to tamp down wildfire activity. “The acreage burned during August was the lowest in 11 years and the acres burned during the year-to-date period was less than half the long-term average,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (parent agency of the NCDC).
Of course, this is cold comfort for those of us living in and around Boulder, Colorado, where the Fourmile Canyon fire is into its fourth day. The blaze ignited in the foothills just west of downtown and has since consumed more than 6,000 acres. It is now the most destructive fire in Colorado history, having burned down at least 135 houses.