is summer 2021 america’s hottest summer yet?

this summer has seen some intense heat waves. but have they been historic?

it’s been a long, hot summer in the u.s. from coast to coast, many cities experienced record high temperatures and heat waves that lasted for for weeks at a time. with so many brutally hot days one after the other, it’s fair to ask: has this been america’s hottest summer?

had you asked that question at the end of june, the answer would have been yes. according to the weather channel, june 2021 was the hottest june in the u.s. in the 127 years records have been kept. and it wasn’t particularly close, either. june 2021 beat out the previous hottest june, in 2016, by almost a full degree.

but things weren’t as abnormally hot in july, at least not in all parts of the country. according to climate.gov, july temps were actually lower than average in several u.s. regions, including the southeast coast and the southwest.

the same cannot be said for the american west, though. throughout july 2021, most of the west saw extreme temperatures triggered by a nasty combination of forest fires, drought and a lingering heat wave. similar temperature trends extended into august.

from a global perspective, though, july 2021 was more historic.

according to the national ocean and atmospheric association (noaa), july 2021 was earth’s hottest month on record going back 142 years, beating the previous record for july set in 2016 and tied in 2019 and 2020. the national centers for environmental information predict that record-setting global temperatures in july will easily place 2021 among the ten hottest years on record.

but thanks to a slight cool down in the western u.s. in the first half of august and some lower-than-average temperatures throughout the summer, it’s unlikely 2021 will top the list of hottest american summers. it probably won’t even beat out last summer’s average, which ranks 4th on that list.

still, this summer has seen some historic temps in the u.s., and globally we’re now hotter than we’ve ever been. and you know what they say: there’s nowhere to go but up.

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