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article imageNOAA: U.S. sweats through hottest summer nights ever in 121 years

By Karen Graham     Sep 9, 2016 in Environment
For those of you who lost sleep this summer because it was just too darned hot, here's the reason why. We have just experienced the hottest summer ever in the contiguous United States.
While summer may not be officially over based on our calendars, meteorologists define summer as the year's warmest months, June, July, and August. And this year, all 48 states in the contiguous U.S. and Alaska recorded above-average temperatures, with California, Connecticut, and Rhode Island experiencing their warmest summers ever.
The news is based on data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA also says this summer tied with 2006 as being the fifth warmest summer on record. Only four summers have ever been hotter, and they were in 1935, 1936, 2011, and 2012.
The average high temperature was 73.5 degrees F. for the 49 states and was 2.1 degrees Fahrenheit above average across the board. The month of August was the 17th warmest month on record, and with precipitation that was 0.85 inches above average, the second wettest month on record.
Jake Crouch of NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information says there is a good reason for the sweltering nighttime heat, especially in the East. We have experienced unusually high levels of humidity because of a never-ending flow of moisture-laden air coming up from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Temperatures don't drop at night when the air is humid.
The unusually devastating flooding in West Virginia in June, Ellicott City, Md., in July and Louisiana in August are all related to the persistent flow of warm, moist air, Crouch says.
A number of big cities, including New Orleans, Detroit, Cleveland, Las Vegas, Columbia, S.C. and Portland, Maine, also experienced their hottest summers. NOAA also points out that Alaska, our northernmost state, experienced its third warmest August, second warmest summer and was record warm for the year to date with temperatures7.6 degrees above average.
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