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Rochester cracks top 15 hottest in Summer 2020 & USA 2nd hottest on record

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ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) – Rochester made it up to the top 15 hottest this summer in June, July, and August (meteorological summer). This consisted of nine days at or above 90°. Rainfall was at its seasonal average for Rochester, although many other regions saw lower than average rain. It also came in chunks as seen in the second figure below.

Data from SC ACIS

The warming trend is very difficult to attribute to anything besides natural variability, but it does fit into a larger trend of global warming because of increase greenhouse gases over the last century. When average temperatures are plotted over the summer in Rochester since reliable record in 1926, there is no trend, but when the temperatures are plotted since 1970, the last 50 years shows a visible upward trend in summertime temperatures.

It is important to remember that while this cannot be contributed directly to climate change, the atmosphere is loaded to bring the potential for warmer summers on a long trend line. Warmer air can hold more water, so an increase in extreme precipitation can be expected from a warmer climate. That shows itself in the average summer precipitation trend since 1926, something that has increased about three inches on average over the past 90+ years. Summer 2020 saw several events of heavy rain, but it came in bouts and we ended up finishing the summer right around average.

The green is summer 2020. Note the long flat lines of no rain paired with the large jumps in precipitation. Brown is average.


  1. A confirmed tornado in Monroe County. More here.
  2. The stretch of waterspouts in mid-August caught on camera across all of the Great Lakes and especially Lake Ontario.
  3. Comet Neowise swept the nation and made everyone look up for weeks. More here.
  4. Unusually warm waters in Lake Ontario. More here.
  5. A top-ten longest 90° stretch in early June. More here.
  6. Lake Ontario did not flood, surprising many along the shoreline that expected a bad year. More here.


Nationally, June, July, and August were months to remember, or wish we could forget. According to NOAA, this summer was one of extremes with wildfire smoke, destructive hurricanes, derechos, and more extreme weather that impacted millions of Americans. August was particularly hot for many, including Phoenix, where the average temperature was a record 99.1°. July 2020 worldwide was the second hottest on record, tying 2016 and just .01°C below the hottest on record, set in 2019.

Here are some other national extreme events that happened over the summer:

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