January through August was wettest on record for U.S.

Nation sizzled during summer 2019

Midwest corn field
Midwest corn field (iStock)

While the contiguous U.S. was breaking records with its wettest first eight months of the year, it also roasted through a warmer-than-average summer, with Alaska sweating through its second-hottest summer on record.

Here are more highlights from NOAA’s latest monthly U.S. climate report: 

Climate by the numbers
August 2019

The average temperature for August across the contiguous U.S. was 73.9 degrees F (1.8 degrees above the 20th-century average), which ties with 1955 for the 13th warmest August on record. After being scorched in July, Alaska had an average temperature that ranked August in the upper third of the historical record. Near- and below-average temperatures were present across much of the central and northern Plains as well as across the Great Lakes.

The average precipitation for August in the contiguous U.S. was 2.74 inches (0.12 inch above average), which puts the month in the middle third of the 125-year record. Wetter-than-normal conditions were found from the northern Plains to the Gulf Coast. Nebraska and Kansas both had their wettest August on record.

Year to date | Meteorological summer

The average U.S. temperature for the year to date (January through August) was 54.3 degrees F, 0.4 degrees above the 20th-century average, ranking in the middle third of the January–August record.

The contiguous U.S. had its wettest January-to-August on record. Above- to much-above-average precipitation stretched from coast-to-coast, with average rainfall for the contiguous U.S. of 24.59, which is 3.88 inches above average.

For meteorological summer (June 1 through August 31), the average temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 72.4 degrees F, which is 1.0 degree above the average. Summer 2019 also ranked in the upper third of the historical temperature record. 

During the meteorological summer, precipitation was 8.83 inches—0.51 inch above average—which ranks in the upper third of the record.

An annotated map of the United States showing notable climate events that occurred across the country during August 2019.
An annotated map of the United States showing notable climate events that occurred across the country during August 2019.

More notable climate events

  • The wet streak continues: Average precipitation across the contiguous U.S. for the 12-month period September 2018–August 2019 was 37.55 inches, 7.61 inches above average. This ranks as the fourth wettest among all 12-month periods on record.

  • Alaska’s hot, dry summer:  Anchorage, King Salmon and Talkeetna had their hottest and driest summer on record.

  • Sizzling Southwest: Arizona, New Mexico and Texas each had their second-warmest August on record, while Utah had its fourth warmest. Much of the Southwest had record and near-record hot daytime high temperatures in August. 

More > Access NOAA’s latest climate report and download the images.

Media contact
John Bateman, (301) 713-9604