January 2020 was the 9th consecutive year that temperatures were above average.
Alaska saw the driest January since 2006, and the Central Interior division witnessed record dry.
The Northeast U.S. had its 10th warmest January since 1895, and precipitation was well above normal for much of the Midwest.
January 2020 was the 12th wettest on record for the Northwest Climate Region and the fourth wettest on record for the state of Washington. The increase in rainfall called flooding and numerous landslides across western Washington and northwestern Oregon.
Temperatures in Boston, Massachusetts soared into the 70s two days in a row on the weekend of January 11-12, during typically the coldest time of year, and smashed its all-time January record on the 12th (74 degrees).
Above-average temperatures meant Lake Erie was ice-free from December 29 through January 17 and then again for four days after Groundhog Day.
San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Hilo and Lihue, Hawaii all saw their record warmest winters. Honolulu, Hawaii, saw its second warmest winter.
Severe weather and flash flooding across much of the Southeast U.S.
For the month of February, Georgia ranked second wettest, while Alabama and North Carolina ranked third wettest.
California ranked driest on record for February with 0.20 inches of precipitation, besting the previous record of 0.31 inch set back in 1964.
The U.S. saw its 10th warmest March in the 126-year period of record.
Neither Philadelphia nor Washington D.C. saw even an inch of snow the entire winter season. Only the 1972-73 season was less snowy in Philadelphia than 2019-20. Philadelphia averages about 22 inches of snow each season.
Extreme rainfall and flooding in Kauai, HI brought numerous flood-related impacts to the island, including high streamflows and road closures, forcing some evacuations.
On March 17, two tornado warnings were issued for Kauai and Niihau islands – a first for any island across Hawaii since 2008.
Since 1986, only two tornado warnings had previously been issued in Hawaii, the most recent one in December 2008.
Flooding which began in April 2019 continued along the James River in northeast South Dakota, marking over 365 consecutive days of flooding.
Returning rainfall caused flash flooding across southern California as well as other parts of the Southwest U.S.
On March 31, 14.5% of the continental US was in drought, and drought conditions intensified and expanded across California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and the Gulf Coast.
Florida saw its record hottest and second driest March dating to 1895.
Record temperatures and near-record dryness across Florida led to flash drought development across the state.
Kahului and Hilo, Hawaii saw their warmest Aprils on record.
Salt Lake City, Utah, had its driest April on record.
As of April 28, 14.8% of the Continental U.S. was under drought conditions.
Boulder, Colorado broke the record for its snowiest season with 152 inches of snow. The previous record of 143.2 was set in 1909.
April 2020 saw global temperatures tie 2016 for the warmest April on record.
May 2020 tied with May 2016 as the warmest May on record for the globe.
May 2020 was the warmest May on record for Nome, Alaska, and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
On June 2, 2020, 19.9% of the continental US was in drought, up about 5 percentage points from the end of April.
Hailstorms across south Texas in May 2020 caused $1.4 billion in damages.
On May 22, 2020, 5.33 inch hail was reported during a severe thunderstorm near Burkburnett, Texas.
Record rain fell mid-May across northern Illinois and Central Michigan.
Van Wert, Ohio, plunged to 18 degrees on May 9, the first time it had dropped into the teens in May in 127 years of records.
Record cold May temperatures were recorded in Binghamton, New York; Fort Wayne, Indiana; Indianapolis and New York’s LaGuardia Airport.
Two dams failed near Midland, Michigan, causing extensive flooding and displacing around 10,000 residents.
Flooding cost $200 million in damages, destroying 150 homes and causing major damage to 790. Public buildings such as schools and government buildings had $34 million in damages.
Miami had its wettest May on record with 18.89 inches, breaking the record of 18.54 inches from May 1968.
In May 2020, tropical cyclones Arthur and Bertha formed along the Atlantic Coast before the normal start of the Atlantic hurricane season.
On May 16, Tropical Storm Arthur formed in the Atlantic ocean east of Florida, marking the sixth consecutive year that the hurricane season began before the traditional official beginning of the season on June 1st.
Tropical Storm Bertha was the second named storm to occur before the official beginning of hurricane season.
Tropical Storm Bertha made landfall on May 27 near the Isle of Palms, South Carolina with winds of 50 mph.
June 2020 was the warmest June on record for Hilo and Kahului, Hawaii.
Caribou, Maine, reached 96°F on June 19, 2020, tying its all-time record high temperature.
Caribou was one of the hottest places east of the Mississippi river and on June 19, the nation’s only heat advisory was in northern and Downeast Maine.
After this hot stretch, Caribou had as many 90-degree days through June 19 as Birmingham, Alabama.
Parts of the typically hot Carolinas saw consecutive days of record-cool high temperatures. Florence, North Carolina, stayed below 70 degrees for 43 straight hours. Only 1967 and 1997 saw longer June streaks there.
Tropical Storm Cristobal formed in the Gulf of Mexico on June 2nd, becoming the earliest third tropical storm on record for the Atlantic basin.
The Bush Fire in Arizona consumed more than 193,000 by the end of June and was the fifth-largest wildfire in Arizona history.
On June 30, 2020, 25.5% of the continental US was in drought, up about 5.6 percentage points from the beginning of June.
Miami had its hottest week on record in late June. Together, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Key West set over 120 combined daily warm records in 2020.
On June 6, 2020, a derecho brought severe storms and damaging winds across Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming and into the Dakotas.
NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center noted it was only the third derecho documented west of the Rockies.
Dry Saharan dust plumes contributed to drought across Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, leading to water restrictions in Puerto Rico.
On June 3, 2020, a derecho, or line of fast-moving severe storms, stretched from Pennsylvania to New Jersey, causing widespread flooding damage and three fatalities.
On June 20, the high temperature in Verkhoyansk, a town in northeast Russia about 260 miles south of the Arctic coast and about 6 miles north of the Arctic Circle, topped out at 38 degrees Celsius, or 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
Seven states — Connecticut (tie), Delaware, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania (tie), and Virginia (tie) — reported their hottest July on record.
Tropical Storm Fay, the earliest 6th named storm, formed in the Gulf and made landfalls in FL as a depression and another as a tropical storm in NJ.
Fay made landfall on July 10 near Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Fay caused 6 fatalities and estimated damages from Fay totaled $400 million.
Hurricane Hanna, the first hurricane of the 2020 season, developed on July 23rd southeast of Corpus Christi, Texas.
Hanna strengthened into a hurricane on July 25 and made landfall on Padre Island, Texas, north of Port Mansfield, as a strong Category 1 hurricane, and then had a second landfall in Kennedy County.
Category 1 Hurricane Douglas skirted north of Hawaii on July 26-27, 2020.
Hurricane Isaias became the 2nd hurricane of the 2020 season on July 30th.
Isaias brought winds and heavy rain to Puerto Rico on July 29-30 before sweeping up the east coast August 2-4th.
On July 28, 2020, 33% of the continental US was in drought, up about 7 percentage points from the end of June.
On July 12, 2020, Death Valley, California reached 128°F – the hottest temperature reported across the continental United States during July and for Death Valley since July 2013.
On August 10th, a derecho (fast-moving line of severe storms) blew across Iowa with wind speed over 90 mph and sustained winds of over 70 mph. The derecho destroyed or severely damaged 8,200 homes and 143 million acres of farmland corn, about a third of the state’s cropland.
The derecho system that moved from southeast South Dakota to Ohio cost $7.5 billion and caused an estimated 4 deaths.
Tropical Storm Isaias re-gained hurricane strength and made landfall on August 3rd in North Carolina as a Category 1 storm.
Isaias caused $4.5 billion in damage and an estimated 16 deaths.
Isaias accelerated up the East Coast, resulting in widespread damage and power outages across New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
Laura was the strongest hurricane (by maximum sustained wind speed at landfall) to hit Louisiana since the 1856 Last Island hurricane.
Laura also had the highest landfall wind speed to impact the U.S. since Hurricane Michael in 2018.
Phoenix experienced its hottest month on record with an average high of 110.7°F, breaking several records in the process, including the most days (50) above 110°F in a year and the fewest nights to fall below 90°F, and the highest number of excessive heat warnings from the National Weather Service.
With 40 extreme heat deaths documented so far (and many more under review), Maricopa County is on pace to once again break last year’s record for heat deaths.
In May of 2020, NOAA predicted an “above normal” Atlantic hurricane season, expecting 13-19 named storms, including 3-6 major hurricanes. By the middle of September, those predictions had already been exceeded.
For the first time since 1971, five named storms churned in the Atlantic Basin at one time. Paulette, Rene, Sally, Teddy, and Vicky were each visible in the Atlantic Ocean on September 14th.
Category 2 Hurricane Sally made landfall on September 15th in the Florida panhandle. Wind gusts up to 100 mph and 20-30 inches of rainfall caused a considerable flood and wind damage across the panhandle of Florida, into Alabama and Georgia.
Hurricane Sally marked the fourth consecutive year that the U.S. has been impacted by a slow-moving tropical cyclone that produced extreme rainfall and damaging floods – Harvey, Florence, Imelda and Sally.
Sally became the first hurricane to make landfall in Alabama since Hurricane Ivan in 2004.
Hurricane Sally caused 5 deaths and the cost of its impacts are yet to be determined.
Tropical Storm Beta, the first Greek alphabet storm to strike the continental United States made landfall on September 22nd, causing extensive flooding across southeast Texas.
Beta caused one fatality in Texas, and total damage from the storm was estimated to be upwards of $400 million.
Phoenix, Arizona, broke the record for the number of days with temperatures at or above 110°F in a calendar year during August and added three more days to the record in September. The 2020 record of 53 days shatters the previous record of 33, set in 2011.
September 2020 was the hottest September on the globe in 141 years of record keeping.
The first 9 months of 2020 tied the annual record of 16 billion-dollar weather and climate events that occurred in 2011 and 2017. 2020 is the sixth consecutive year (2015-2020) in which 10 or more billion-dollar weather and climate disaster events have impacted the United States.
As of October 31st, over 8.5 million acres had burned nationwide due to wildfires this year.
Record heat and dry winds continued to fuel the biggest wildfire season in California history.
More than 90,000 people in 22,000 homes in the city of Irvine were under a mandatory evacuation order due to wildfires.
The August Complex Fire passed 1 million acres burned, making it the first “gigafire” in modern California history, and the first in the U.S. since Alaska’s Taylor Complex Fire in 2004.
On 10/28, the Butte County Sheriff’s Office confirmed a 16 death from the North Complex Fire, bringing the total number of fatalities to 32.
Several record high temperatures were reported in California in October: Anaheim, hit 96 degrees, Ontario reached 99 degrees, and Napa reached 94 degrees.
More than 1 million California residents were expected to be impacted by utility power cuts on Monday 10/26 amid Red Flag warnings across the state.
Southern California recorded the nation’s worst air quality due to wildfires by the end of the month.
Following months of devastating wildfires that have left barren hillsides vulnerable to “debris flow,” some communities in California were now at high risk of potentially deadly mudslides.
A new study found 282,000 housing properties worth $142 billion are at elevated risk of wildfire damage in Southern California.
Colorado saw its worst fire season on record – three out of the four largest wildfires in Colorado history sparked in 2020.
Since May, wildfires have scorched more than 624,000 acres in Colorado, killing at least two people, razing more than 550 structures, causing damage estimated at upwards of $195 million.
Analysis by The Associated Press found this year’s wildfires exposed millions of people to hazardous pollution levels, causing emergency room visits to spike and potentially thousands of deaths among the elderly and infirm.
Smoke at concentrations that topped the government’s charts for health risks and lasted at least a day enshrouded counties inhabited by more than 8 million people across five states.
Hurricane Delta made landfall near Creole, Louisiana on Friday, October 9th, and brought storm surge that pushed one coastal buoy to a record 10.6 feet.
Delta caused a reported total of 4 deaths across Florida and Louisiana.
On October 20th, Hurricane Epsilon became the earliest 26th named storm on record, beating out the previous record of November 22, 2005, by over a month.
Hurricane Zeta made landfall in Louisiana as a high Category 2 storm Wednesday, October 28th carrying maximum sustained winds of 110 mph.
Of 3,394 residents being sheltered in Louisiana, only 76 evacuated due to Zeta. Thousands of residents were already in shelter due to Hurricanes Delta and Laura.
At its peak, 2.1 million people were without power. Zeta’s high winds caused the second-largest U.S. power outage of 2020.
In the Atlantic Ocean, the chance that any given storm will reach major hurricane intensity (Category 3, 4, or 5) was twice as likely as it was in the 1980s, showing just how influential warmer ocean waters can be.
Hurricane Eta made landfall a total of four times, twice in Florida, causing mass destruction across Central America:
Eta first made landfall on November 3rd in Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane. Eta caused a life-threatening storm surge, flooding, and landslides, and an estimated 30,000 people were evacuated.
Eta became the strongest Greek-letter named storm in history with winds peaking at 150 mph, the upper limits of a Category 4 storm, on November 2nd.
Eta weakened on the evening of November 4th to a tropical depression with 35 mph winds and was expected to restrengthen over the Caribbean Sea before approaching South Florida.
Eta made landfall in central Cuba early on November 8th as a tropical storm.
Eta made landfall in the Florida Keys at Lower Matecumbe Key on November 8th at 11 pm as a strong tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph.
Eta was the 12th named storm to make landfall in the U.S. this season, breaking the previous record of nine set in 1916. Eta was the first hurricane this season to make landfall in Florida.
Tropical Storm Eta made its fourth landfall just south of Cedar Key, Florida at 4 am on November 12th with winds of 50 mph and tropical-storm-force winds that extended 115 miles from the storm’s center.
Hurricane Eta caused 11 deaths in the U.S. In North Carolina alone, flooding caused by hurricane Eta resulted in at least four deaths.
Sub-Tropical Storm Theta formed over the northern Atlantic on November 9th, marking the 29th named storm of the season and breaking the previous record of 28 named storms in 2005.
Hurricane Iota made landfall on the coast of northeastern Nicaragua on November 16th, breaking records for an already record-breaking tropical storm season:
Iota made landfall as a strong Category 4 storm just 15 miles south of where Hurricane Eta hit weeks earlier.
Iota broke the record for the most named storms in a season – 30. The previous record of 28 was set in 2005.
Iota was the 10th storm of the 2020 season to meet the criterion for rapid intensification.
Iota strengthened so quickly that its intensification places among the ranks of three other historic hurricanes: Gilbert in 1988, Rita in 2005 and Wilma in 2005
155mph maximum sustained winds made Iota the strongest hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic season.
Iota was the first storm of the 2020 season to reach the highest Category 5 status on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
Iota became the first Category 4 hurricane to strike the Colombian Islands of San Andres and Providencia before reaching Nicaragua.
Iota was stronger, based on central pressure, than 2005′s Hurricane Katrina and was the first storm with a Greek alphabet name to hit Category 5.
Iota became the second-most intense hurricane to ever churn in the Atlantic basin during the month of November – second only to the 1932 Cuba Hurricane, which packed winds of 175 mph.
For only the second time in history, Iota marks a second hurricane landfall in Nicaragua within one season. The last time two hurricanes struck the nation was in 1971, when Hurricane Irene and Hurricane Edith both crashed ashore.
Research by the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control found that those exposed to wildfire smoke were more vulnerable to COVID-19.
Oregon’s 2020 wildfire season set records for the amount of destruction. From 2015 to 2019, Oregon lost a combined 93 homes to wildfire. In 2020, 4,009 homes were destroyed. The cost of fighting the state’s wildfires stands at $609 million and rising.