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Despite August cooldown, Salt Lake City ties record for hottest summer on record

Miles Rosenberg cools off at the splash pad at Liberty Park during a heat wave in Salt Lake City on June 14. This year — 2021 — tied the record for hottest summer in Salt Lake City history, the National Weather Service reported Wednesday.

Miles Rosenberg cools off at the splash pad at Liberty Park during a heat wave in Salt Lake City on June 14. This year — 2021 — tied the record for hottest summer in Salt Lake City history, the National Weather Service reported Wednesday. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)



SALT LAKE CITY — Not even one of the wettest Augusts in Salt Lake City history could stop 2021 from landing at the top of the city's 147-year-old record book.

With an average temperature of 80.9 degrees, 2021 tied the record for the hottest meteorological summer on record in Salt Lake City. The record was first set in 2017.

The weather service defines meteorological summer as June, July and August, instead of the time between the summer solstice and fall equinox. The record this summer wasn't much of a surprise because June and July broke average temperature records. July's average temperature of 85.7 degrees broke the record for the hottest month ever recorded in Salt Lake City since the weather service began tracking the city's weather in 1874.

Another reason it wasn't surprising is that Salt Lake City also matched the record for the most 100-degree days in a year this summer. It reached triple digits 21 times at the weather service's Salt Lake City International Airport station, matching records reached in 1960 and 1994. It even reached 107 degrees on June 15, which tied the record for the hottest temperature ever recorded in the city's history.

Still, a surprisingly — and welcomed — cool and wet August brought the summer average back down to tying the 2017 record. The average temperature fell to 76.8 degrees last month, just below the August normal of 77 degrees. Salt Lake City also received 2.29 inches of rain in August, which wasn't just four times more than the August normal, but the seventh-wettest August in Salt Lake City history.

So, not only did Salt Lake City tie its heat record, it ended up with 0.89 inches of rain above its precipitation normal with a total of 2.91 inches.

Utah's capital city avoided the unwanted driest water year on record as a result of rain in late July. The precipitation in August hoisted it out of contention to be in the top-10 driest years on record, too. In fact, August — typically Salt Lake City's second-driest month — leads all months in precipitation during the 2021 water year and accounts for more than one-fifth of all the city's precipitation this year.

But August didn't solve the city's water year deficit. It remains 3.65 inches below average in the water year with one month left. The U.S. Drought Monitor still lists the city within its "exceptional" drought category.

Utah, as a whole, entered August dealing with its eighth-warmest and 23rd driest calendar year since the National Centers for Environmental Information began collecting statewide data in 1895. The center is still calculating August data from other places in Utah to see where this year ranks in precipitation and temperatures now, although rain and lower temperatures were reported across the state in August, so those numbers are expected to fall.

Meanwhile, the weather service's Climate Prediction Center's three-month outlook model for meteorological fall — including September, October and November — calls for a return of temperatures above normal and precipitation levels once again below normal.

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