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August 2021 Climate Recap – Hurricanes, Fires and Floods

17 Sep 2021, 2:00 am

[A house and garage submerged in high flood waters in Waverly, Tennessee, after a complex of thunderstorms dropped more than a foot of rain across parts of central Tennessee on August 21, 2021. More than 20 people died in the flash floods.  From Tennessee Emergency Management Agency via NOAA]

[Wrriten from NOAA and NOAA NCEI]   Last month brought Hurricane Ida, numerous wildfires and devastating floods. Here’s a summary of key findings from NOAA’s latest monthly U.S. climate report:

August 2021

The average temperature for August across the contiguous U.S. was 74.0 degrees F, 1.9 degrees above average, making it the 14th-warmest August on record. August temperatures were above average across the West Coast, Southwest and from the Plains to the East Coast. New Hampshire and Vermont both had their warmest Augusts on record, while Maine and Massachusetts had their second warmest. Much of the above-average warmth can be attributed to warm overnight temperatures. Temperatures were near to below average across much of the northern Rockies and the southern Plains.

The average precipitation for August for the contiguous U.S. was 3.09 inches (0.47 of an inch above average), ranking 14th wettest in the 127-year record. Precipitation was above average across portions of the central and northern Rockies, the northern Plains, Great Lakes and from the Deep South to southern New England. Mississippi ranked fourth wettest while Tennessee had its fifth-wettest August. The city of Tucson, Arizona, saw its wettest August on record thanks to an active Southwest monsoon season. Precipitation was below average across portions of the West, southern Rockies, central Plains, Midwest, northern Great Lakes and northern New England.

Other notable climate and extreme events from the report

Hurricane Ida battered the Gulf Coast: On August 29, Hurricane Ida made landfall as a Category-4 hurricane near Port Fourchon, Louisiana, with 150-mph sustained winds. It was the second year in a row that a Category-4 hurricane slammed Louisiana. More than 1 million residents, and all of New Orleans, were without power. Grand Isle, Louisiana, took a direct hit: An unprecedented 100% of homes were damaged, and almost 40% were nearly or completely destroyed.

Multiple flooding disasters struck with lethal results: Devastating flash flooding with multiple fatalities occurred during August from Tropical Storm Fred in western North Carolina, Tropical Storm Henri across parts of the Northeast, and historical flooding from a complex of thunderstorms that moved across middle Tennessee. From late August into early September, Hurricane Ida also dumped an extreme amount of rain across Louisiana; the hurricane’s remnants submerged portions of the Northeast. With 35 fatalities reported during August, it was the deadliest month for flooding across the U.S. since Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

Wildfires swept through even more of CaliforniaThe Dixie Fire in north-central California became the second-largest fire in the state’s history. The state’s Caldor Fire also grew rapidly during August, threatening communities in South Lake Tahoe. Air quality remains a concern across the U.S. due to increasing concentrations of airborne ash and fine particulates from smoke.

Edited for WeatherNation by Meteorologist Mace Michaels