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The U.S. saw its hottest summer on record

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BLUEFIELD, W.Va. (WVVA) - The summer of 2021 was officially the hottest summer on record across the United States.

The average temperature for the summer of 2021 was 74.01°. That puts the U.S. 2.61° above the 20th century baseline. This summer just barely beat out the summer of 1936, the year the dust bowl occurred, for the warmest on record.

Climatologists say that there has been an interesting trend this summer that is different from early 20th century summers.

"One of the things that we are seeing about the summer of 2021 that's really interesting and certainly different from 1936 or other early 20th century summers is that warm overnight temperatures blanketed much of the contiguous U.S."

Karin Gleason - NOAA's NCEI | Climatologist

Overnight temperatures have been much warmer than normal all across the country. Gleason says this is because there has been more cloud cover due to warmer temperatures and more moisture in the air. Cloud cover overnight acts as a blanket and keeps heat trapped. On clear nights that heating from the day can escape.

Map showing how much warmer/cooler high temperatures were compared to normal.
Map showing how much warmer/cooler low temperatures were compared to normal.

Gleason says she is worried about this trend of warmer overnight temperatures. This causes added stress to the human system and wildlife as we are not able to get a cooling off period. She says that this trend of warmer overnight temperatures is likely to continue into the future.

Locally in the Two Virginia's, we didn't have a record setting summer, but temperatures were warmer than average. Meteorologists at the National Weather Service in Blacksburg, VA say that it was the dry conditions combined with the heat that made things feel especially bad.

"A lot of the heat this summer has been perception wise with it not only just being hot but also being dry and just needing the rainfall. A lot of that contributes to if you never get a storm for several days to even bring a little bit of a cool down, then you're not going to get that cool down and you're not going to that relief."

Reggie Roakes - NWS Blacksburg | Meteorologist

The reason we had a warmer than average summer around our area is because of the pattern we were stuck in. Roakes says that high pressure was commonly just off the coast or over the Carolinas which brings our area drier and warmer weather. Once we got into that seasonal pattern, it's very hard to break it.

Although meteorological summer has come to end, it'll still be feeling like summer out there. Temperatures are expected to be 5-10 degrees above average for the next several days around our area.

Collin Rogers

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