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  • Tim McGill

Summer Of 2021 Tied For Warmest On Record

Virtual Tie With 1936



2021's summer was a sizzler for our country. Meteorological summer (June-August) this year had an average temperature of 74.0° for the lower 48 states. That is 2.6° above average and essentially ties with the Dust Bowl year of 1936 as the warmest summer on record. 18.4 percent of the contiguous U.S. recorded record-warm temperatures for the summer season, a new record. California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Utah all recorded their hottest summers on record. There wasn't one state that came in below average for the season.



Our warmer climate may have played a part in making August the deadliest month (35 deaths) for flooding in our country in four years.


More severe weather stats from Axios:


  • Flooding last month killed at least 22 people in Tennessee.

  • Large wildfires have burned nearly 3 million acres so far this season, according to National Interagency Fire Center estimates from Thursday.

  • The blistering summer and a climate change-caused megadrought have pushed certain U.S. reservoirs to historically low levels. The federal government formally declared the first-ever water shortage at Lake Mead, the nation's largest reservoir by volume, last month.



Chicago's summer tied as the 8th warmest on record with an average temperature of 75.3°.


Summer-like weather is spilling over into September. Highs by Saturday will be near 90° and including today, there could be five straight days with highs in the 80s.


Today will be a bit above average. HRRR Model has our highs today topping out near 80°. The average high for today's date is 78°. A light lake breeze will keep it a few degrees cooler right along the lakefront especially north of the city.


It will feel just like July on Saturday. The NAM model has highs reaching into the upper 80s. No lake breeze tomorrow with gusty southwest winds bringing the heat up to and through the lakefront.


The temperature anomaly forecast has most of the country well above average Saturday. It will be warmest compared to average from the Rockies through the central plains and into the Midwest with temperatures as much as 10° to 20° above average. Our highs on Saturday will be about 10° above average.



We will see a light southwest breeze today but a breeze off the lake along the lakeshore mainly north of the city. Stronger southwest winds on Saturday with gusts near 30 mph.


That southwest wind tomorrow will bring the heat and increasing humidity.


There is only a slight chance for a shower or thunderstorm late Saturday into Saturday night.


Our concentration of wildfire smoke aloft increases today and might be high enough on Saturday to cool us down a degree or two. The HRRR Model vertically integrated smoke forecast has the highest concentrations over the northern Rockies spilling south into the plains and all the way into Texas. Moderate to high levels of smoke aloft are expected here today and tomorrow.


The National Blend Of Models has our highs hitting 80° or warmer for the next straight five days. We slide briefly into the 70s on Wednesday and then climb back to 80° or above for the end of next week right on into the following weekend.


The signal is strong again for a warmer than average period overall for the middle and latter part of September. We aren't alone with most of the country outlooked for a warm pattern during this time. The 6-10 day forecast has outlooked Chicago for above average temperatures overall from September 15th through September 19th. The longer range 8-14 day forecast also favors us for above average temperatures overall from September 17th through September 23rd. Average highs for this period are in the middle to upper 70s.




The Climate Forecast System or coupled forecast system (both names abbreviated CFS) is a medium to long range numerical weather prediction and a climate model run by the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). The signal for the next 30 days isn't strong but it is indicating it will be warmer than average overall from now through the beginning of October.







Drought Budges A Tiny Bit


O'Hare has seen just under a third of an inch of rain in the past 15 days. So far September is down just over an inch of rain below average.


The latest US Drought Monitor analysis is in and it is good news overall for Illinois.


The past two weeks of rainfall (ending on September 8th) has been either feast or famine in northern Illinois. Much of the Lake and McHenry County saw between 10% to 50% of average rainfall in the past two weeks while some spots south of the city have seen 150% to 300% of average.



The US Drought Monitor analysis shows a slight decrease in the area under a moderate drought ( 1 one out of 4 levels). The area shrunk from 9.96% to 9.81% compared to a week ago. The areas in a severe drought (level 2 out of 4 levels) did not change and remains at .79%.



Every drought level dropped for the Midwest region. The area under an exceptional drought, the most dire drought category, dropped form 1.15% to .99%.


The latest GFS model continues to keep us dry through the weekend. It brings the next good chance of rain here late Tuesday into Wednesday.


The forecast for rainfall through next Wednesday afternoon from the GFS model shows reason for some hope for help with the drought in our northern suburbs. The model is squeezing out around an inch and a half to two inches of rain there. This forecast will change and be fine tuned the next few days so stay tuned.



It's not the most promising long range rainfall forecast for help with the drought but it offers a little hope. The latest 6-10 day forecast has the Chicago area favored for above average rainfall from September 15th through September 19th. A close inspection of the longer range 8-14 day forecast favors most of the Chicago area for above average precipitation from September 17th through September 23rd. The exception is our far western and southwestern suburbs which are outlooked to see near normal rainfall. Both forecasts have us in the lowest range of probabilities for above average precipitation.






Here is my 7 day forecast:


Today: Mostly sunny, warm & pleasant High: 80


Saturday: Mostly sunny, breezy & warmer Low: 64 High: 89


Sunday: Partly to mostly sunny Low: 70 High: 88 (cooler lakeside)


Monday: Partly to mostly sunny Low: 65 High: 83 (cooler lakeside)


Tuesday: Partly to mostly cloudy, sct. showers/t-storms Low: 66 High: 85


Wednesday: Shower early?, partly to mostly sunny Low: 63 High: 77


Thursday: Mostly sunny Low: 59 High: 80


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