July 2022: Heat, Severe Weather, and Drought

August 9, 2022 // Article by: Cody Hewitt

What was a cool and slow start to summer came to an end by July. An upturn in severe weather along with oppressive heat and humidity took the reins. Despite the increase in activity, the drought in New England only worsened. By the last week of the month, a severe drought was declared and dry conditions spread further south and west into New York and New Jersey.

Immediately, July 1st saw a bout of damaging winds across northwest Maryland into central Pennsylvania thanks to a series of storms. Much of the damage consisted of downed trees and wires, including structural damage. High pressure took over for a time afterwards, helping to keep Tropical Depression Colin and eventually its remnants away from the Mid-Atlantic. As the high retreated a boundary lifted northward, and produced two tornadoes between Virginia and Maryland on the 5th. Both snapped trees and wires, but the Maryland tornado produced some injuries.

EF-1 tornado damage survey near Bowie, MD on July 5th. Winds peaked at 90 mph. Courtesy NWS.

After the severe weather, slightly cooler conditions settled in as highs fell to the 70s and 80s across the Northeast. However, this was thanks to stalled fronts across Maryland-Virginia which left the region parched, while cities along and south of the Mason-Dixon racked up rainfall totals. Repeated downpours on the 9th not only resulted in flooding issues across the region but also left 4.05” of rain in Washington, D.C.! This was not far from an old daily record of 4.69” set in 1970. Once this boundary washed out further south, a robust cold front crossed through on the 12th. This sparked two areas of severe weather across New England and the Mid-Atlantic. Quarter-sized hail was reported across Vermont and New Hampshire, while gusty storms dominated further south. Sadly, these storms caused two fatalities, one from a large tree falling in Lenox, MA and another similar situation in Gansevoort, NY.

While it was already warmer than normal, persistent heat and humidity marked the remainder of the month thanks to constant southerly flow keeping moisture locked in. Indeed, the heat peaked on the 24th with nearly all major cities peaking at or over 90 degrees, including Boston, MA breaking a daily record at 100 degrees while even Binghamton, NY touched 90. Newark, NJ also broke a record number of consecutive days at or above 100 between the 20th and 24th! This all led to an outbreak of severe storms mainly in New York that caused a wide swath of wind damage from Buffalo on east to Albany and south to the lower Hudson Valley. The 28th also saw a localized yet sneaky severe event that spun an EF-0 near Norfolk, CT, though it was thankfully short-lived with minimal damage.

Overall, July 2022 finished on the warm side as the Northeast averaged 2-4 degrees above normal. Furthermore, Boston, MA and Philadelphia, PA broke monthly records as the 3rd and 2nd warmest July, respectively. Although it was very warm, the lack of rainfall in New England was most notable. Remarkably, Boston only collected 0.62” for the month versus its usual 3.27”, making it the 4th driest July ever (surrounding suburbs did see more thanks to localized storms). In contrast, Washington, D.C. measured its 6th wettest July with 7.61”, nearly 3 inches greater than normal!