- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 14, 2002

Confronted by parched lawns and withered fields, few Americans will be surprised to learn that the summer of 2002 was hotter and drier than normal.
For the record, the National Climatic Data Center reported yesterday that June through August was the warmest summer since the 1930s and drought affected about half the country.
The average temperature for the 48 contiguous states this summer was 73.9 degrees.
That's 1.8 degrees warmer than normal and the third-hottest on record. Warmest was 1936 and second was 1934.
The report comes just a day after the National Weather Service forecast continuing dry conditions for much of the country through winter. Only the southern tier of states are expected to be wetter than normal.
The data center, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said no state was significantly colder than normal in summer and many were much warmer than average.
There was much-below-average rainfall in 29 states while the only wetter-than-average states were Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North Dakota, plus parts of Texas and Florida.
Heavy rainfall eased drought but led to severe flooding in southern and central Texas in early July with damage estimates reported as high as $1 billion. Strong thunderstorms also brought widespread flooding to western Minnesota and North Dakota and resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in damage in crop losses in June.
In many areas, the drought extends back years. Indeed, the 12 months that ended with August were the driest on record for six states North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Utah, Arizona and Nevada. It was the second-driest 12 months in South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland, Delaware and Wyoming.
The Climate Center said there was some drought relief in the Northeast during the spring and early summer, but a return to below-average rainfall during July and August led to worsening drought there.

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