For most Americans, memories of childhood summers conjure images of pool parties, beach outings, long days, and warm starry nights. Even though you can't remember your first summer, based on scientific data, it is safe to say it was most likely one of the coolest of your life, regardless of when you were born.
For millions of people—especially in the western third of the country—the excitement that builds up in spring, while looking forward to vacation months, has turned into apprehensiveness and forethoughts. The imagery of fun outdoor activities has been replaced by recollections of wildfires, dense smoke, arid land, heat waves, and drought.
From West Texas to the Pacific Coast, summer average temperatures have progressively risen anywhere from 2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit in the last five decades, propelling mid-2021 and 2022 to the top spots of the heat charts.
The rest of the country is experiencing a similar trend, though not as sharp. Average summer temperatures in America's Heartland and the South have increased 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit, while the eastern states—from the Carolinas to Maine—have seen their thermometers go up 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit on average since 1971.
To illustrate what summer weather was like in the U.S. from 1920 to 2022, Stacker consulted data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Summer is defined as the months of June, July, and August. Each metric is ranked relative to the entire timespan, while average comparisons look just at the historical average from 1901 and 2000.
What was the weather like for your very first summer? Take a look, and you may remember more than you think—or learn something new about summers before your time.
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