Exceptional heat waves from coast to coast helped push June 2021 to the No. 1 spot on the list of hottest Junes on record for the U.S.
The first six months of 2021 also brought eight billion-dollar weather disasters, ranging from destructive severe weather to a historic deep freeze, according to experts from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.
Below are more highlights from NOAA’s U.S. monthly climate report for June:
Climate by the numbers
The average June temperature across the contiguous U.S. was 72.6 degrees F (4.2 degrees above average), making it the hottest June in 127 years of record keeping and surpassing the record set in June 2016 by 0.9 of a degree.
Eight states — Arizona, California, Idaho, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Utah — also saw their hottest June on record. Six other states — Connecticut, Maine, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming — marked their 2nd hottest June.
The average June precipitation across the U.S. was 2.93 inches, matching exactly the historical average for the month, though some states had extremes in rainfall — either too much or too little. For example, South Dakota saw its driest June on record while Mississippi had its second wettest.
Year to date (YTD) I January through June 2021
The year-to-date average temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 49.3 degrees F, (1.7 degrees above the 20th-century average) and placed in the warmest third of the record. Maine saw its third-warmest YTD, and both California and New Hampshire had their fifth warmest.
The precipitation total was 14.64 inches, 0.67 of an inch below average, which ranked in the driest-third YTD on record. Nine states across the interior West, northern Plains and New England logged a top-10 driest YTD on record.
Billion-dollar disasters to date
The U.S. experienced eight weather and climate disasters in the first six months of 2021, each with losses exceeding $1 billion. They were:
- 4 severe storms including tornadoes, hail and high wind damage;
- 2 flooding events;
- 1 winter storm with a deep freeze; and
- 1 heat wave-influenced drought.
The costliest event so far was the February 10-19 winter storm and cold wave that incurred direct losses of approximately $20 billion. The next costliest was the severe weather outbreak of April 27-28 in Texas and Oklahoma that caused $2.4 billion in damages.
The 2021 YTD inflation-adjusted losses from all eight disasters were also at a near-record high for the first six months and came in at nearly $30 billion – only behind 2011.
The U.S. has experienced 298 weather and climate disasters since 1980 where overall damages/costs reached or exceeded $1 billion (including CPI adjustment to 2021). The total cost of these 298 events exceeds $1.975 trillion.
Other notable climate events
- Claudette battered the South: Tropical Storm Claudette formed on June 19 and brought heavy rainfall and flash flooding to the South, causing at least 13 deaths. Tornadoes spawned by Claudette also brought significant damage to parts of the region.
- The nation’s drought intensified: According to the June 29 U.S. Drought Monitor report, a little more than 47% of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, up from nearly 44% at the beginning of June. Drought intensified or expanded across portions of the West, northern and central Plains, Midwest, New England and Hawaii. Drought improved across the Carolinas, Virginia, and Puerto Rico.