The Southeast: Locally heavy showers kept drought intensification at bay in some areas and resulted in some additional drought relief in the central Gulf Coast region. In fact, New Orleans, Louisiana, received daily-record rainfall amounts on July 25 and 28 (2.34 and 3.52 inches, respectively), and ended the month with 13.00 inches of precipitation (210 percent of normal). However, even rain-affected locations had to deal with record-setting heat. In North Carolina, Wilmington (101°F on July 30) tied an annual record with its seventh day of triple-digit heat. Wilmington originally set its annual record of seven 100-degree readings in 1952.
By July 31, more than half (56%) of South Carolina’s pastures were rated in very poor to poor condition. South Carolina also led the Southeast with topsoil moisture rated 77% very short to short. Nearly one-third (32%) of the cotton was rated very poor to poor by the end of July in Alabama and Georgia. Peanuts (30% very poor to poor) were struggling in Alabama. Nearly one-half (45%) of North Carolina’s corn was rated very poor to poor.
The Central and Southern Plains and The Mid-South: Tropical Storm Don—which made landfall on July 29 between Brownsville and Corpus Christi—was a mighty disappointment for parched Texas. Scattered showers, totaling mostly less than an inch, were limited to Deep South Texas, as the storm literally disintegrated upon moving inland. Meanwhile, a record-shattering string of 100-degree readings continued into August across parts of the Lone Star State. Tyler, TX, posted a 36-day streak (and counting) of triple-digit heat from June 28 – August 2, nearly doubling its former mark of 20 days set from July 15 – August 3, 1998. Dallas-Ft. Worth registered highs of 100°F or higher on 32 consecutive days (and counting) from July 2 – August 2, second only to a 42-day stretch of triple-digit heat from June 23 – August 3, 1980. With an average temperature of 89.2°F, July 2011 was the hottest month on record in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, smashing its Dust Bowl-era record of 88.7°F set in August 1936. Childress, Texas (90.2°F), also demolished its long-standing “hottest month” record, previously set with 89.0°F in July 1934. Elsewhere in Texas, Wichita Falls (92.9°F) edged its July 1980 standard of 91.9°F. For the second consecutive month, Lubbock, TX, experienced its hottest month on record (85.9°F in June and 86.0°F in July; previously, 85.4°F in July 1966). Adding insult to injury was the ongoing historic drought. For example, Midland, Texas, completed another month without measurable precipitation (rainfall greater than a trace last fell on May 20). Midland also endured its driest 10-month period on record, with just 0.18 inch falling from October 2010 - July 2011. The previous record-low precipitation for any 10-month period in Midland was 2.60 inches from October 1950 - July 1951.