July 2021 was Earth’s hottest July since global record-keeping began in 1880, 0.93 degrees Celsius (1.67°F) above the 20th-century average, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, NCEI, reported August 13. Since July is also the hottest month of the seasonal cycle, that meant that July 2021 was “more likely than not the warmest month on record for the globe since 1880,” NOAA said. July 2021 was just 0.01 degree Celsius hotter than July of 2016, 2019, and 2020, so these months can be considered to be in a statistical tie for Earth’s hottest month on record.

The record July warmth is particularly remarkable since there was a moderate La Niña event in the Eastern Pacific that peaked in November 2020 and ended in May 2021. La Niña events typically cause global cooling of about 0.1 degree Celsius; the peak cooling occurs five months after the La Niña peak, on average. July 2021 temperatures would have been even warmer had a La Niña event not occurred earlier this year.

NASA rated July 2021 the second warmest July on record, 1.16 degrees Celsius (2.09°F) above the 1880-1920 period, which is their best estimate of preindustrial temperature. The record warmest July in the NASA database is July 2019, which was 0.02 degree Celsius warmer than July 2021. Minor differences occur between the NOAA and NASA numbers because of how they handle data-sparse regions such as the Arctic.

The month’s exceptional heat was focused more on land areas than ocean areas, heightening its human impact: July 2021 global ocean temperatures were the sixth warmest on record, according to NOAA, while global land areas experienced their warmest July on record. Asia had its hottest July on record; Europe, its second hottest; North America, South America, Africa, and Oceania all had a top-10 warmest July.

Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average for July 2021, the warmest July for the globe since record keeping began in 1880. Record-warm July temperatures were observed across parts of western North America, the Atlantic Ocean, Europe, northern Africa, southern Asia, and small areas across the southern Pacific and Indian oceans. No record cold was observed. (Image credit: NOAA/NCEI)

January-July ranked as Earth’s sixth warmest such period on record. According to NCEI’s annual temperature outlook, the year 2021 is virtually certain to rank among the 10 warmest years on record, and over 95% likely to fall in the range of sixth- to seventh-warmest on record.

July 2021:  record-hot in the western U.S.

Extreme heat engulfed the western U.S. in July, bringing four western states – California, Oregon, Washington, and Nevada – their hottest July on record. Meanwhile, the southeast portion of the nation was near to slightly below average, so the U.S. as a whole had its 13th warmest July on record.

On July 9, Death Valley National Park’s Furnace Creek Visitor Center hit an astonishing 130.0 degrees Fahrenheit (54.4°C), beating the previous all-time world record for hottest reliably measured temperature of 129.9 degrees Fahrenheit (54.4°C), set there on August 16, 2020. As explained in our post on the record, the official world record remains 134 degrees Fahrenheit at Furnace Creek in 1913, but this record has been strongly disputed as invalid.

According to an email from weather historian Chris Burt, 22 U.S. cities with a long-term period of record (POR) set their record for all-time hottest month in history in July 2021. Remarkably, Omak, WA, crushed its previous hottest month by a full 3°F – an insanely large margin for beating an all-time monthly record. Here are the new U.S. all-time warmest month records set in July 2021:

City			New Record	Old Record	POR-
Spokane, WA		77.5°		75.9° 7/1906	1881-
Omak, WA		81.2°		78.2° 7/2014	1909-
Yakima, WA		79.4°		78.8° 7/1941	1946-
Bend, OR		70.9°		70.3° 7/2014	1901-
Medford, OR		80.3°		79.9° 7/2014	1911-
Burns, OR		74.5°		73.2° 7/1960	1939-
Mt. Shasta City, CA	74.8°		73.2° 7/2003	1948-
Blue Canyon, CA		75.6°		74.2° 7/2012	1948-
Bishop, CA		81.8°		81.8° 7/2018	1895-
Elko, NV		77.2°		77.2° 7/2018	1890-
Winnemuca, NV		80.1°		78.1° 7/2018	1877-
Boise, ID		83.8°		83.1° 7/2007	1877-
Jerome, ID		79.0°		77.9° 7/1931	1915-
McCall, ID		71.1°		68.7° 7/2017	1906-
Burley, ID		76.1°		75.3° 7/1998	1917-
Stanley, ID		64.5°		63.6° 7/2007	1916-
Challis, ID		74.0°		73.8° 7/2018	1895-
Idaho Falls, ID		72.4°		72.4° 7/2007	1948-
Lewiston, ID		82.0°		81.5° 7/1906	1881-
Sandpoint, ID		73.5°		72.2° 7/2007	1910-
Salt Lake City, UT	85.7°		85.3° 7/2017	1874-
Salem, OR		73.3°		73.1° 7/2015	1893-

July 2021 was the sixth wettest July on record in the U.S.; 11 states had a top-ten wettest July, with New York and Massachusetts having their wettest July on record. Minnesota, North Dakota, and Washington had a top-ten driest July on record.

Figure 2. Billion-dollar weather disasters of January-July 2021, according to Aon.

Four billion-dollar weather disasters in July; 27 so far in 2021

Earth experienced four billion-dollar weather disasters in July 2021, according to Aon: a $25 billion flood in Europe, a $25 billion flood in China, monsoon flooding in India that cost $1.6 billion, and Typhoon In-fa in east Asia, which cost $1.1 billion. In addition, five weather disasters from earlier in the year accumulated enough damages by the end of July to rank as billion-dollar disasters, giving Earth 27 billion-dollar weather disasters so far in 2021, Aon reported. Their record for an entire year is 50 billion-dollar weather disasters, set in 2020. Below are the details on July’s disasters.

Figure 3. Deadliest European floods since 1922, according to the international disaster database, EM-DAT.

July billion-dollar weather disaster #1:  Central Europe’s worst flooding in many decades struck western Germany and eastern Belgium July 12-18, when a stalled low-pressure system dumped torrential rains that killed 240 people and left at least $25 billion in damage. This would rank as the costliest weather disaster in Europe since at least 1980, according to the international disaster database, EM-DAT. It was Europe’s deadliest flood since 1985, and ninth-deadliest of the past 100 years. 

July billion-dollar weather disaster #2: An extreme rainfall event of nearly unimaginable intensity hit Zhengzhou, China, on July 20, which recorded an astonishing 644.6 mm (25.38 inches) of rain in the 24 hours. This is literally more than a year’s worth of rain: Its average annual precipitation (1981-2010 climatology) is only 640.9 mm (25.23 inches). Total flood damage in June and July in China was estimated at $25 billion, with 325 deaths. This would rank as the fifth-costliest weather disaster in Asia since 1980, according to EM-DAT.

July billion-dollar weather disaster #3: Typhoon In-fa made landfall along the east China coast in the Zhejiang Province July 25-26. Impacts from In-fa were also felt in Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines. Total damage in China was $1.1 billion.

July billion-dollar weather disaster #4: Monsoon flooding continued in India throughout July, including a particularly intense spell from July 22-28, with the Maharashtra state most severely affected. The seasonal monsoon death toll for June and July stands at 534, with $1.6 billion in damage.

A La Niña Watch remains in effect

Neutral conditions were in place during July, NOAA reported in its August 12 monthly discussion of the state of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation, or ENSO. However, the agency continued its La Niña Watch, for the expected arrival of a La Niña event later in the year.

Over the past month, sea surface temperatures in the benchmark Niño 3.4 region of the eastern tropical Pacific (5°N-5°S, 170°W-120°W) were 0.1-0.2 degree Celsius below average. The range for “weak” La Niña conditions is 0.5-1.0 degree Celsius below average.

Forecasters at NOAA and at Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society say they expect La Niña conditions to remain in the “neutral” range through September (60% chance), while likely drifting toward a new La Niña event this autumn. The forecast for the November-December-January period is for a 69% chance of La Niña, 29% chance of ENSO-neutral, and a 2% chance of El Niño. Historically, about half of all winter La Niña events (such as the one during the 2020-2021 winter) have continued into or re-emerged during the following winter.

Figure 4. Departure of sea surface temperature (SST) from average in the benchmark Niño 3.4 region of the eastern tropical Pacific (5°N-5°S, 170°W-120°W). Temperatures were 0.1-0.2 degrees Celsius below average over the past month. (Image credit: Tropical Tidbits)

Arctic sea ice: fourth-lowest July extent on record

Arctic sea ice extent during July 2021 was the fourth-lowest in the 43-year satellite record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. From July 4 to July 9, the 2021 extent was the lowest in the satellite record for that time of the year, but ice loss slowed later in the month, because of low pressure and cloudy skies that dominated the Arctic.

Antarctic sea ice extent during July was above the 90th percentile, ranking as the eighth-highest on record.

Greenland: two extensive melt events in July

Exceptionally warm temperatures in Greenland caused the Greenland Ice Sheet to suffer two extensive melt events in the second half of July. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the second melt event had the sixth-largest melt area and fourth-highest runoff in the satellite record, which began in 1978. However, snow cover from earlier snowfall in early summer blunted the potential impact of the melting by limiting the exposure of bare ice and reducing runoff. The two events resulted in the 2021 season flipping from a net gain of ice to near-average net change for the year-to-date period, but more melting is forecast through September.

Notable global heat and cold marks for July 2021

The information below is courtesy of Maximiliano Herrera. Follow him on Twitter: @extremetemps:

– Hottest temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: 54.4°C (130.0°F) at Death Valley, U.S., July 9;
– Coldest temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: -25.8°C (-14.4°F) at Summit, Greenland, July 10;
– Hottest temperature in the Southern Hemisphere: 38.7°C (101.7°F) at Sao Felix do Araguaia, Brazil, July 17;
– Coldest temperature in the Southern Hemisphere: -79.6°C (-111.3°F) at Vostok, Antarctica, July 29;
– Highest 2021 average temperature to date (Jan.-Jul.) in the Southern Hemisphere: 29.5°C (85.1°F) at Surabaya Airport, Indonesia; and
– Highest 2021 average temperature to date (Jan.-Jul.) in the Northern Hemisphere: 33.3°C (91.9°F) at Yelimane, Mali.

July 2021 major weather stations’ new all-time heat or cold records: 108 all-time heat records, 3 all-time cold records

Among global stations with a record of at least 40 years, 108 set, not just tied, all-time heat records in July (note that the Death Valley record is not on this list, which only includes records that were beaten, not tied, using degrees Celsius):

Lynn Lake (Canada) max. 38.0°C, July 1;
Collins Bay (Canada) max. 36.5°C, July 1;
Benni Abbes (Algeria) max. 48.7°C, July 2;
Midelt (Morocco) max. 38.9°C, July 4;
Remada (Tunisia) max. 48.1°C, July 4;
Banak (Norway) max. 34.3°C, July 5;
Kevo (Finland) max. 33.6°C, July 5;
Nuorgam (Finland) max. 32.5°C, July 5;
Ghat (Libya) max. 47.0°C, July 5;
Sarakhs (Iran) max. 48.7°C, July 6;
El Golea (Algeria) max. 49.1°C, July 6;
Batna (Algeria) max. 44.6°C, July 6;
Saragt (Turkmenistan) max. 48.2°C, July 6;
Chardzhev (Turkmenistan) max. 46.2°C, July 7;
Zlikha (Kazakhstan) max. 46.6°C, July 7;
Kzyl Orda (Kazakhstan) max. 46.5°C, July 7;
Semnan (Iran) max. 44.4°C, July 8;
Kerki (Turkmenistan) max. 47.0°C, July 8;
Parkhar (Tajikistan) max. 44.4°C, July 8;
Vilyuysk (Russia) max. 37.8°C, July 8;
Hovenweep (Utah, USA) max. 42.8°C, July 9;
Escalante (Utah, USA) max. 41.1°C, July 9;
Khouribga (Morocco) max. 46.1°C, July 9;
Sidi Slimane (Morocco) max. 49.6°C, July 10;
Beni Mallal (Morocco) max. 47.8°C, July 10;
Settat (Morocco) max. 46.7°C, July 10;
Larache (Morocco) max. 46.4°C, July 10;
Meknes (Morocco) max. 46.8°C, July 10;
Bullfrog Basin (Utah, USA) max. 45.6°C, July 10;
Farmington (New Mexico, USA) max. 41.1°C, July 10;
Bishop (California, USA) max. 43.9°C, July 10;
Winslow (Arizona, USA) max. 43.3°C, July 10;
Toponah (Nevada, USA) max. 40.6°C, July 11;
Oujda (Morocco) max. 47.3°C, July 11;
Taourirte (Morocco) max. 46.2°C, July 11;
Bordj-Bou-Arreridj (Algeria) max. 43.6°C, July 11;
Mascara (Algeria) max. 46.9°C, July 11;
Pskov (Russia) max. 35.7°C, July 13;
Poronaysk (Russia) max. 35.3°C, July 17;
Errachidia (Morocco) max. 43.9°C, July 17;
Adrar (Algeria) max. 49.9°C, July 18;
Kuromatsunai (Japan) max. 34.5°C, July 18;
Shiraoi (Japan) max. 33.3°C, July 18;
Oshamambe (Japan) max. 32.6°C, July 18;
Shimukappu (Japan) max. 34.6°C, July 19;
Okishi (Japan) max. 33.6°C, July 20;
Cizre (Turkey) max. 49.1°C, July 20: New national record high for Turkey;
Tbilisi (Georgia) max. 40.6°C, July 20;
Kars (Turkey) max. 35.6°C, July 21;
Belfast Airport (United Kingdom) max. 30.0°C, July 21;
Armagh (United Kingdom) max. 31.4°C, July 22;
Kasba Tadla (Morocco) max. 47.0°C, July 23;
Taza (Morocco) max. 46.4°C, July 23;
Hinatuan (Philippines) max. 37.9°C, July 24;
Taimali (Taiwan) max. 40.6°C, July 25: New national record high for Taiwan;
Kargil (India) max. 38.4°C, July 25;
Khorramabad (Iran) max. 46.4°C, July 26;
Teshio (Japan) max. 33.8°C, July 27;
Horokanai (Japan) max. 36.1°C, July 27; beaten again with 37.3°C on July 28;
Ishikari Numata (Japan) max. 36.5°C, July 27;
Kimobetsu (Japan) max. 34.1°C, July 27;
Morino (Japan) max. 33.1°C, July 27;
Hidakamonbetsu (Japan) max. 32.2°C, July 27;
Dammam (Saudi Arabia) max. 50.7°C, July 27;
Upernavik (Greenland, Denmark) max. 20.5°C, July 27;
Ristna (Estonia) max. 31.7°C, July 27;
Elbasan (Albania) max. 42.5°C, July 28;
Danmarkshavn (Greenland, Denmark) max. 19.8°C, July 28;
Nakatonbetsu (Japan) max. 35.8°C, July 28;
Nakagawa (Japan) max. 36.2°C, July 28;
Otoineppu (Japan) max. 36.6°C, July 28;
Higashikawa (Japan) max. 36.6°C, July 28;
Fukagawa (Japan) max. 35.8°C, July 28;
Mitsuishi (Japan) max. 32.1°C, July 28;
Shizunai (Japan) max. 31.7°C, July 28;
Shari (Japan) max. 36.7°C, July 28;
Kyowa (Japan) max. 34.7°C, July 28;
Kamoenai (Japan) max. 33.5°C, July 28;
Otaru (Japan) max. 36.2°C, July 28;
Yubari (Japan) max. 35.0°C, July 28;
Takikawa (Japan) max. 36.0°C, July 28;
Bifuka (Japan) max. 36.6°C, July 28;
Nayoro (Japan) max. 36.4°C, July 28;
Shimokawa (Japan) max. 37.3°C, July 28;
Asahi (Japan) max. 36.9°C, July 28;
Horonuka (Japan) max. 35.3°C, July 28;
Atsuta (Japan) max. 36.1°C, July 28;
Shinshinotsu (Japan) max. 35.1°C, July 28;
Yamaguchi (Japan) max. 37.1°C, July 28;
Shumarinai (Japan) max. 34.9°C, July 28;
Tappu (Japan) max. 36.5°C, July 29;
Wakkanai (Japan) max. 32.7°C, July 29;
Peshkopi (Albania) max. 38.6°C, July 29;
Yagishiri (Japan) max. 31.2°C, July 30;
Etanbetsu (Japan) max. 38.4°C, July 31;
Asahikawa (Japan) max. 37.6°C, July 31;
Sorachi Yoshino (Japan) max. 36.3°C, July 31;
Tsukigata (Japan) max. 36.3°C, July 31;
Bibai (Japan) max. 35.6°C, July 31;
Iwamizawa (Japan) max. 35.5°C, July 31;
Naganuma (Japan) max. 35.0°C, July 31;
Hidaka (Japan) max. 35.8°C, July 31;
Biei (Japan) max. 36.1°C, July 31;
Kamifurano (Japan) max. 37.2°C, July 31;
Furano (Japan) max. 36.5°C, July 31;
Rokugo (Japan) max. 36.2°C, July 31;
Ashibetsu (Japan) max. 37.2°C, July 31; and
Gabes (Tunisia) max. 46.7°C, July 31.

Three stations set all-time cold records globally in July:

Estcourt (South Africa) min. -4.8°C, July 22;
Kroonstad (South Africa) min. -8.0°C, July 23; and
Formosa (Argentina) min. -2.5°C, July 29.

Seven all-time national/territorial heat records set or tied in 2021

As of July 31, 2021, seven nations or territories had set or tied an all-time reliably-measured national heat record:

United Arab Emirates:  51.8°C (125.2°F) at Swiehan, June 6 (tie);
Oman: 51.6°C (124.9°F) at Joba, June 16;
Canada: 49.6°C (121.3°F) at Lytton, June 29 (record beaten 3 consecutive days);
U.S.: 54.4°C (130°F) at Death Valley Furnace Creek, California, July 9 (tie);
Morocco: 49.6°C (121.3°F) at Sidi Slimane, July 10 (tie);
Turkey: 49.1°C (120.4°F) at Cizre, July 20; and
Taiwan: 40.6°C (105.1°F) at Taimali, July 25.

One all-time national/territorial cold record set or tied in 2021

As of July 31, 2021, one nation or territory had set or tied an all-time national cold record:

United Arab Emirates (for places at low elevations): -2.0°C (28.4°F) at Raknah, January 9.

Fifty-seven monthly national/territorial heat records beaten or tied as of July 31

– January (10): Mexico, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Japan, Malta, Tunisia, Turkey, Russia, Georgia, Spain
– February (12): Iraq, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, South Korea, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Croatia, Slovakia, Poland, Sweden, Pakistan, Northern Mariana Islands
– March (14): Northern Mariana Islands, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Pakistan, Oman, Jersey, Guernsey, Germany, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, US Virgin Islands
– April (4): South Africa, Northern Mariana Islands, Hong Kong, Tajikistan
– May (8): Northern Mariana Islands, Taiwan, Russia, Qatar, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Dominica, Saba
– June (8): Cocos Islands, Congo Brazzaville, Mexico, Belarus, Estonia, Malta, Tunisia, Botswana
– July (1): Cocos Islands

Five monthly national/territorial cold records beaten or tied as of July 31

– April (2): Slovenia, Switzerland
– June (2): Saba, Paraguay
– July (1): Namibia

Hemispherical and continental temperature records in 2021

– Highest minimum temperature ever recorded in April in the Southern Hemisphere: 31.7°C (89.1°F), at Vioolsdrif, South Africa, April 13.
– Highest minimum temperature ever recorded in May in Europe: 29.4°C (84.9°F), at Zymbragou, Greece, May 2.
– Highest minimum temperature ever recorded in June in North America: 40.3°C (104.5°F), at Stovepipe Wells, U.S., June 18.
– Highest reliable temperature on Earth: 54.4°C (130°F) at Death Valley Furnace Creek, California (U.S.), July 9 (129.9°F measured there in August 2020 was also rounded to 54.4°C).
– Highest minimum temperature ever recorded in North America and the highest minimum temperature in the world in July: 42.0°C (107.6°F) at Stovepipe Wells, California (U.S.), July 11.
– Highest minimum temperature recorded in July in Europe: 34.3°C (93.7°F), Kalymnos, Greece, July 31.

Bob Henson contributed to this post.

Editor’s note: this post was updated on August 17 and 31 to include two additional all-time heat records, giving Earth 108 stations with all-time heat records in July.

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Jeff Masters

Jeff Masters, Ph.D., worked as a hurricane scientist with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. After a near-fatal flight into category 5 Hurricane Hugo, he left the Hurricane Hunters to pursue a...