NOAA News || NOAA Home Page


Hurricane FloydSeptember 22, 1999 — Summer 1999 in the United States was much drier than normal, with two states–Connecticut and Rhode Island–having their driest summer in 105 years, NOAA reported today. These preliminary data for meteorological summer, June through August, are from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.

U.S. Precipitation

"The average total precipitation for the contiguous United States for the period June through August was well below the long-term average, falling below the long-term average for the first time in eight years," said William Brown, a climatologist at NCDC. The period June through August ranked as the 22nd driest summer since 1895. The national averaged precipitation was 7.58 inches, compared with a normal value of 8.24. The driest summer for the nation was in 1930, with 5.98 inches of rain.

Regional U.S. Precipitation

During the summer of 1999, the United States experienced an intensifying drought and heat wave. The East Coast was the hardest hit by the drought, with record and near-record short-term precipitation deficits occurring on a local and regional scale, resulting in agricultural losses and drought emergencies being declared in several states.

In summer 1999, nearly 13 percent of the country was much drier than normal while about six percent of the country was much wetter than normal. The Northeast United States had its second driest summer since records began 105 years ago. The driest was in 1913, with 7.36 inches of rain. During the summer of 1999, the Northeast had 7.88 inches. The Central Region had its eighth driest summer with 8.74 inches of rain, compared with the driest value of 6.32 inches in 1930. The Southeast had its 16th driest summer with 13.62 inches, compared with 10.63 inches in 1980.

Connecticut and Rhode Island had their driest summer in 105 years. New York and West Virginia had their second driest summer; Ohio and Virginia had their third driest; Massachusetts and Vermont had their fourth driest; and Kentucky and New Jersey had their fifth driest.

The Southwest region had its 15th wettest summer in 105 years, with 5.65 inches of rain. This compares to a normal value of 4.72. The East North Central region had its 19th wettest summer in 105 years, with 12.86 inches of rain, compared with a normal value of 11.23.

U.S. Temperatures

For the three-month period June through August 1999, the mean temperature for the contiguous United States was well above the long-term average, based on preliminary data. Nearly six percent of the country was much warmer than normal, while about one percent of the country averaged much cooler than normal. Five of the last six summers have been above the long-term mean.

Regional U.S. Temperatures

The Northeast had its ninth warmest summer in 105 years. At 69 degrees F, this summer averaged two degrees above the 67 degree normal. The warmest summer in the Northeast was 1949, at 70.4 degrees. Rhode Island had its second warmest summer in 105 years; New Jersey the third warmest; Connecticut its fourth warmest; and Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont their fifth warmest.

Global Temperatures

"The global mean temperature for the period June through August 1999 was well above the long-term average," said Mike Changery, a climatologist at NCDC. "In fact, for nearly every month in the past 10 years, the global mean land temperature has been above the long-term (1880-1998) mean. Even so, this three-month global mean temperature was considerably cooler than the record warmth experienced in June through August of 1998, largely due to cooler sea surface temperatures this year."

In Europe, the past two years have had record and near-record warm June-through August temperatures. The past 20 years have seen persistent unprecedented warmth.

Global Precipitation

Several areas of the world experienced much-above-average precipitation in the June through August season. The most notable areas included portions of the Sahel in
Africa, and Korea, with flooding reported in these areas. In the Sahel, the summer was the wettest summer since the early 1960's. The Korean peninsula was inundated this season by several storms, some of which were tropical in origin. These storms brought much-above-average rainfall, with some places getting more than one and a half times their normal seasonal rainfall.

In contrast, in addition to the drought in portions of the United States, dryness and drought conditions affected western India, due to the weakness of the summer monsoon. While eastern India was wet with some flooding reported, the monsoon rains did not spread westward to bring relief to drought conditions in western India.

For more information, refer to the National Climatic Data Center's home page at:
Click onto New. Click onto Climate of 1999, August in Historical Perspective

NOAA's National Climatic Data Center is the world's largest active archive of weather data. The preliminary temperature and precipitation data are available from the center by calling: (828) 271-4800.

NOAA works closely with the academic and science communities on climate-related research projects to increase the understanding of forecasting techniques. NOAA's Climate Prediction Center monitors, analyzes and predicts climate events ranging from weeks to seasons for the nation. NOAA also operates the network of data buoys and satellites that provide vital information about the ocean waters, and initiates research projects to improve future climate forecasts. The long-lead climate outlooks are available on the Internet at: