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New Map Shows July Heat Wave Sizzled From Coast to Coast

july heat wave map
(Image credit: NOAA)

July's blistering heat wave either tied or set daily records in every state in the country, as evidenced by a new map showing the location of these records that essentially outlines the shape of the country.

The new map shows the location of each of the almost 9,000 daily heat records that were broken or tied in July, giving a nearly complete image of the lower 48 states. The records include 2,755 highest maximum temperatures and 6,171 highest minimum temperatures (nighttime records).

The tally of records collected so far is not complete — more are expected to come in as station data from across the country are mailed to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). The statistics reported here only include weather stations with real-time electronic reporting, which accounts for about two-thirds of the locations. Final numbers should be available later in August.

The new map plots how many times a heat record was broken or tied in a given location. Some cities reached daily high temperatures 19 out of the 31 days in the month. The largest concentration of these records occur in the southern Plains, Midwest and Northeast, which were gripped by a series of heat waves pushing heat indices well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius) for many days at a time.

Two weather stations tied for the hottest temperature recorded during this July: The Blythe station in Riverside County, Calif., and the Gila Bend station in Maricopa County, Ariz., both hit 120 F (48.9 C) in July.

And while the weather hasn't been as hot in the Pacific Northwest, stations in states such as Oregon and Washington have also set or tied records. On July 7, Satus Pass station in Klickitat County, Wash., hit 91 F (32.8 C), tying a 1968 daily record high for the station. Baring station in King County hit 83 F, also tying a record high for the station on that day. Oregon's Silver Lake station in Lake County was also hot on July 7, hitting 95 F (35 C), a new daily record.

Even Alaska recorded unusually sweaty temperatures. The temperature at the Northway weather station in Southeast Fairbanks County hit a record 97 F (36.1 C) on July 11.

Newark, N.J., set an all-time high at 108 F (42.2 C) on July 22, breaking the record of 105 F (40.6 C), set in 2001.

In Washington, D.C., Dulles International Airport saw its hottest July on record this year and recorded its highest July temperature of all time at 105 F (40.6 C), on July 22. That same day, water in the nearby Potomac River was the hottest ever recorded at 96 F (35.4 C) (records go back to only 1988), reported the Capital Weather Gang blog.

The city of Morehead, Minn., had the dubious distinction as the hottest place on Earth for a day, said meteorologist Heidi Cullen of Climate Central, in an interview on National Public Radio. On July 19, the heat index there — a measure of humidity and temperature that indicates how hot the weather feels — was 134 F (56.7 C). (The National Weather Service later said this reading could be an anomaly due to the local weather station's location in a very wet field, and not representative of the entire town.)

Live Science Staff
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