In some parts of the country, August has lost a little of its bite this year.

While still early, the first week and a half of August has been much cooler than normal from an area spanning from the Upper Midwest to the central Gulf Coast. The outlook from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center through the third week of the month is for much of the same.

temperature outlook

Temperature outlook from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. Below average temperatures expected for the middle part of August for much of the U.S.


That’s not say there haven’t been hot spots. Miami continues to roast after its hottest July on record. The West Coast is having one of its hottest starts to August on record. Seattle has been 4.5°F above normal, second warmest since 1945 while also enduring 54 days in a row of no rain.

But the rest of the country’s temperature map has largely been painted blue. While cool spells will still happen in a world warming from increasing greenhouse gases, they will become less frequent. Conversely, warm spells like the one that hit the U.S. in February this year will become more numerous.

average august temperatures

U.S. average August temperatures, each year since 1895.


In any year, there are days that are cooler or warmer than normal (and a bunch that are near normal). Plotting those days out by how often they occur generally makes a bell curve, with only a few extremely hot or cold days. But as the world warms, it shifts the distribution. An entirely new normal is established, with fewer cool spells and more warm ones.

heat bell curve

So even though there is often a chilly day or two every May, summer always comes. Likewise, don’t be fooled by a cooler-than-normal August, warming of the planet continues and heat is becoming the norm.