Summer is off to a sizzling start.
The average June temperature for the Lower 48 states was 71.8 degrees F, making it the warmest June on record, according to scientists from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. Above-average temperatures spanned the nation from coast to coast, and 17 states across the West, Great Plains and parts of the Southeast experienced temperatures much above average. June precipitation for the contiguous U.S. averaged 2.46 inches, 0.47 inch below average, ranking as the 14th driest on record.
Through the midpoint of the year (January–June), the contiguous U.S. average temperature was 50.8 degrees F, 3.2 degrees F above average and the third warmest on record. Every state was warmer than average for the year to date, and Alaska continued to shatter heat records.
Notable climate events include:
Alaska: Record warmth spanned Alaska from January through June. The statewide average temperature for this period was 30.4 degrees F, 9.0 degrees F above average, and 2.5 degrees F warmer than the previous record in 1981.
West Virginia: During June 23-24, more than 10 inches of rain in parts of West Virginia causing record flooding that resulted in at least 23 fatalities and the loss of over 1,500 homes.
Tropical Storm: Tropical Storm Colin made landfall along Florida’s Gulf Coast on June 6 with sustained winds of 50 mph. Colin brought heavy rainfall to the Southeast and caused four fatalities.
U.S. Drought: By the end of June, 16.2 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, up about 3.5 percent compared to the end of May. Drought remained entrenched in parts of California and the far west, and expanded to other parts of the nation.
Billion Dollar Disasters: So far in 2016, the U.S. has experienced eight billion-dollar weather and climate-related disasters, resulting in the loss of 30 lives and causing at least $13.1 billion in damages (note: losses from the late-June West Virginia floods are still being assessed and are not included in this tally).
More from NOAA:
U.S. climate highlights: June
- Above-average temperatures spanned the nation from coast to coast. Seventeen states across the West, Great Plains and parts of the Southeast had June temperatures that were much above average. Above-average temperatures continued for Alaska, which had its ninth warmest June with a temperature 2.5°F above average. Arizona and Utah were each record warm with temperatures 5.9°F and 7.0°F above average, respectively.
- The warm and dry conditions across the West created ideal wildfire conditions with several large fires impacting the region. The Erskine fire charred nearly 48,000 acres in Southern California, destroying more than 280 homes and killing two people.
Below-average precipitation was widespread across the Northern and Central Plains, Midwest and Northeast. Five states — Massachusetts, Nebraska, South Dakota, Rhode Island and Wyoming — had June precipitation totals that were much below average. Above-average precipitation was observed across parts of the Southwest, Southern Plains, Midwest and Mid-Atlantic. In Arizona, rainfall associated with the seasonal monsoon caused flooding across parts of the state. Despite West Virginia having a June statewide precipitation total that only ranked as the 14th wettest, on June 23-24 a series of thunderstorms passed over southern parts of the state dropping upwards of 10 inches of rain on already saturated soils. The rapid rainfall rates across the mountainous terrain caused massive runoff and record flooding in the valley floors. Over 1,500 homes were destroyed and at least 23 fatalities were blamed on the flooding, including 15 in the small town of Rainelle. According to the June 28 U.S. Drought Monitor report, 16.2 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, up about 3.5 percent compared to the end of May. Drought conditions worsened across parts of the Southeast, Northwest and Northeast with drought developing in the Northeast and parts of the Upper Midwest and Northern Plains. Drought conditions remain entrenched across much of California.