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Well no shocker, it was a warmer than normal month of July. We ended the month +2.0° F above normal. 

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That’s using the modern (1991-2020) normal which of course are warmer than historically. We were +2.9° F above the full historic (1873-2022) average. That doesn’t sound like a whole lot but it was enough to keep us in the top 16% of Julys, or 24th warmest. July and August are our months with the least variation in temperature (think summer doldrums), so the standard deviation is only 2.9° F. We were a full standard deviation above normal, which is substantial, statistically.

We slipped a bit in the rankings thanks to those cool days last week. We saw just 1.18 inches of rainfall compared to a normal 4.06 for the month. That’s a staggering 29% of normal precipitation and the reason why much of the Twin Cities and east-central Minnesota into western Wisconsin is in drought.

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Believe it or not, this July was hotter than last July (2021). You’ll recall that last summer was the hottest ever recorded for the Twin Cities, narrowly beating out 1988.

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When we look at summer so far, despite being the 24th warmest July, June was the 11th warmest, so summer-to-date is 11th hottest. That’s because the overall warmth has been consistent. To understand how this impacts the average, overall summer temperature (which we use to rank them), here’s a great comparison of summer 1936 to date (June 1-July 31) and 2022:

Summer 36 vs 22 compare

Despite some extreme heat in mid July, there were normal ups and downs to the summer temperatures that year. So, while summer of 1936 was definitely hot, our modern summers tend to be consistently warmer – especially in hotter years like last year and this year. 

That consistency in the heat is really indicative of a greenhouse trapping atmosphere. In fact, we actually had 4 days of 90° F+ this month, one fewer than the normal but still ended up above normal because of that consistently above normal trend. Summer to date we’ve seen 14 days in the 90s compared to a normal 9. Last year, the hottest summer of record, we had 22 already. Interestingly, in 1988 we had the most 90s+ but 2021 still beat it in average temperature.

Basically as long as August is yet again warmer than normal, we’re guaranteed to have experienced one of the 10 hottest summers in the Twin Cities on record. It would take an August that’s -0.2° F or colder to counter the heat surplus we’ve accumulated.

Yet again, it was a windier than normal month too. The average wind speed was 13% higher than normal for July which has been a consistent theme this whole year. It’s not just your imagination, it really has been windy. That’s saying something too since Minnesota is a windy place naturally.

Statewide the trends were similar, though the places most above normal in July were in the southwest part of the state. The only places cooler than normal were those close to Lake Superior and that’s due to the oddity of Lake Superior’s water temperatures this year. The big lake is running way below normal in temperature in the western parts of the lake. Water temperatures are 25 degrees colder than last year at this time. The likely culprit is the record April snows along the North Shore combined with the record spring rainfalls for many areas. That’s a lot of extra cold water flowing into the lake which inevitably takes more time to heat up. Places near the lake, like Duluth and Grand Marais, had a cooler than normal July as a result.

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The model consensus for August is another hot month, though by how much is a question. The models over-forecasted for July this year though their general trends and patterns were correct. It seems the long range models just missed the late July cool spell we had last week. It’s hard to see any break in the warmer/hotter than normal pattern until mid Autumn when darkness returns to the arctic and we produce cold air again.

Happy August! 

BMTN Note: Weather events in isolation can't always be pinned on climate change, but the broader trend of increasingly severe weather and record-breaking extremes seen in Minnesota and across the globe can be attributed directly to the rapidly warming climate caused by human activity. The IPCC has warned that Earth is "firmly on track toward an unlivable world," and says greenhouse gas emissions must be halved by 2030 in order to limit warming to 1.5C, which would prevent the most catastrophic effects on humankind. You can read more here.

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