News Section
Stories from Climate Central's Science Journalists and Content Partners

See How This Summer’s Temperatures Stack Up

By Climate Central

Get ready to retire the white wardrobes, cover the grill and shutter the lake house. Labor Day Weekend marks the psychological – and meteorological – end of summer. While you're enjoying one last cold one this weekend or snapping photos on the beach, take a look at how the summer's average temperatures stacked up for a number of cities across the U.S.

Was it hotter than average? Colder? About in the middle? The answer is . . . yes, depending on where you live. However, even with rounds of record cold air this summer, none of the cities we analyzed is close to setting a record low for the entire season. Meanwhile, there are some cities across the West that are sizzling through one of their hottest summers on record.

Find out where summer in your city stands:

It’s a good reminder that in a world that’s warming overall under a growing blanket of greenhouse-gas pollution, each year won’t necessarily be warmer than the year before in every region. It’s only over time that the warming trend is obvious.

Across the West and Southwest, most cities were baking this summer. As of Aug. 24, the most recent data available, Seattle, Portland, Ore., San Francisco, and Fresno, Calif., are all on track for one of their hottest summers ever recorded. On the whole, California has had the hottest start to the year ever recorded.

In contrast, cooler weather has dominated parts of the Midwest this summer. Moline, Ill., Milwaukee, and Cincinnati are wrapping up unusually cool summers. However, Chicago and Detroit are below average but not by that much and Minneapolis and Duluth, Minn., are above average.

The Southeast also experienced a range of temperature outcomes. This summer has been well below average in Hattiesburg, Miss., and Mobile, Ala., as the weather pattern kept a stream of cool air coming their way. However, Birmingham and Huntsville, Ala., were neither especially hot nor cold, while temperatures start jumping up when you get to the other side of the Appalachians. Both Charleston and Columbia, S.C., are at the high end of summer temperature rankings.

There were a lot of people in the Northeast who thought this was such a cool summer. And in Baltimore, temperatures were well below average. But that was the exception for big Northeast cities. Richmond, Va., Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and Boston all came in warmer than average while New York City was close to average. Those areas, as well as the Southeast, are going to get one last blast of heat this weekend. 

And if you find yourself missing peak heat, you can always head west. Like way west to coastal areas in California, Oregon and Washington, where the hottest temperatures of the year usually arrive in September.

You May Also Like:
‘Urgency of Climate Change’ to Debut as Legal Defense
Coal Plants Lock in 300 Billion Tons of CO2 Emissions
Crowdsourced Photos Provide Drought Snapshots
A Tale of Two Cities: Miami, New York and Life on the Edge


By Jess (Portland/OR)
on August 29th, 2014

What is the x-axis of this graph? It’s obviously not time, as the 2014 bar (for Portland) is not all the way on the right. Instead, 2009 is the furthest right.

This graph would be more meaningful if the bars were in chronological order. Instead, the bars are ordered in increasing temperature, which is the point of the y axis, not the x.

Reply to this comment

By John (96741)
on September 15th, 2014

The X-axis is a year ranked from coolest to warmest, but if it were in chronological order the graph would be close to meaningless.  This clearly shows how this year’s temperatures rank against all other years.

Reply to this comment

By Jeff (West Salem, WI 54669)
on August 29th, 2014

Why are La Crosse and Eau Claire tied together?  These cities are nearly 90 miles apart.

Reply to this comment

By SteveD (Austin, TX)
on August 30th, 2014

It would be more meaningful if the x-axis were listed by year instead of by temperature.

As it is displayed, it conveys the mistaken visual impression to non-scientist viewers that there is always a yearly increase in local temperatures over time in every city. That, of course, isn’t true.

Reply to this comment

By Steven (Elmhurst, IL 60126)
on September 3rd, 2014

The x axis orders the temperatures from coolest to warmest. That way, it is trivially easy to see ‘how this summer stacks up.’  If the x axis ordered the temperatures chronologically, it would be next to impossible to do that.

Reply to this comment

Name (required):
Email (required):
Enter the word "climate" in the box below:

[+] View our comment guidelines.

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled. Your comment will not appear until reviewed by Climate Central staff. Thank you for your patience.