Fourth Hottest July Ever. Really?

Those living in much of the Eastern and Central U.S. would likely be surprised to hear NOAA’s recent announcement that July 2014 was one of the hottest Julys on record. For many Americans, this has been one of the most comfortable summers in recent memory—no sweltering heat waves and triple digit heat indexes that are often the summer norm. In fact, twenty-five states saw a cooler than average July and a few experienced record low temperatures.

Does this mean NOAA is wrong? No it doesn’t. While a few areas of the globe were cooler than average, most were warmer. July brought record heat to the U.S. West Coast, Norway and parts of Africa.

The contradiction between the temperature in one place and the global average is an example of how weather systems and climate intersect. Weather systems will always influence what we experience at any given time and place. Sometimes that will align with global averages and trends, sometimes it won’t.

This underscores why it is unwise to make assumptions about climate change based on localized and short-term weather conditions. Prudence dictates that we look at the big picture, which includes average global temperatures and long-term trends.

The map below provides a good visual overview of how July temperatures, worldwide, compared to long-term averages.

NOAA Graphic - July 2014 Global Temperatures / Departure from Average

NOAA Graphic – July 2014 Global Temperatures

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