Posted by: pyeager | September 7, 2009

2009 Summer Temperatures, United States

By this time of the year in 1816, the growing season was over from the Northeast to the Carolinas–a growing season that was slow to start because Northeast had snow in June and a frost in some areas in July. It was, of course, the Year Without a Summer.

This summer (2009) was cool in some areas, especially in populated areas of the East from May through July, prompting many people to call this a year without a summer. The growing season has continued, though, and August was warm, so this summer certainly doesn’t compare to the summer of 1816.

Don’t take my word for it. Take a look at temperature anomalies across the United States from June 1 through August 31:

Temperature departures from normal from June 1, 2009 through August 31, 2009

Temperature departures from normal from June 1, 2009 through August 31, 2009

Cooler Than Normal

While it has been cooler than normal in the Northeast, the warm August has taken a dent out of seasonal temperature departures, and the coolest weather overall was found in the northern Plains. This area was impressively cool, with temperatures of four or five degrees below normal, which is a significant amount over a three-month time period. Even in this region, though, this doesn’t compare to the disastrous 1816 summer in the Northeast.

Baking Summer

The hottest weather, compared to average, was found in the Southern Plains, where drought combined with the unrelenting heat. Temperatures averaged more than 5 degrees above normal, in a typically hot area.

It was also quite a bit warmer than average in the Pacific Northwest, where a couple of noteworthy cool spells were balanced by a couple of incredible heat waves.

The Year with Drama

It may not have been the year without a summer, but as the map above shows, it was clearly a summer of temperature extremes.

–Paul Yeager

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