Extreme weather conditions continued in the United States through September, with record temperatures in the Midwest and significant rainfall in some parts of the country due to the Tropical Storm Lee.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a news release that the U.S., on average, hit 66.5 degrees Fahrenheit, 1.5 degrees higher than the long term average (1901-2000) for the month of September. While Tropical Storm Lee helped with precipitation rates, the country’s drought brought the average rainfall for September to only an average of 2.43 inches. This amount is .10 inches below the long-term average.
Regionally, the country’s weather was largely consistent throughout the month. California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington all had their warmest Septembers on record while 14 states in the central part of the country had below-normal temperatures.
The Plains states continued to deal with dry conditions during September. Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, South Dakota and Texas had precipitation totals during September rank among their ten driest since 1895. The dry climate, along with winds, created ideal wildfire conditions. In September alone, wildfires destroyed 96,000 acres of land and more than 1,600 homes.
The drought conditions in Texas and Oklahoma were especially bad in September, with nearly 97 percent of Texas and 79 percent of Oklahoma in extreme to exceptional drought conditions.
Lee and other storms did provide the Northeast with its second wettest September on record with 6.70 inches of rain, a couple inches short of the record set in 1999 when Hurricane Floyd dropped 8.04 inches on the region.
In the July to September period, the U.S. experienced its second highest average temperatures, with a national average of 73.4 degrees over the three-month period. New Mexico and Texas had record warm temperatures during this time, with temperatures of 3.5 degrees and 4.2 degrees above average, respectively.
Rainfall across the period was nearly an inch below normal averages while rainfall tended toward extremes on a regional basis. The central and Northwestern parts of the country remained dry while the Northeast saw a record 17.62 inches of precipitation over the three month period.