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Fox News Weather Center

PHOTOS: Summer 2014's Fiercest Weather in Review

As summer winds down and fall-like weather begins to take shape across the United States, we reviewed the summer's fiercest weather events.

From tornadoes, unquenchable drought and blazing wildfires to devastating floodwaters and roaring hurricanes, summer 2014 has been an active season. However, some may feel like the season never reached full-swing, as cooler-than-normal weather was in place during the typical dog days of summer.


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2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season Slow to Ignite, Eastern Pacific More Active

With no tropical developments firing in the Atlantic Basin in May or most of June, the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season was one of the slowest seasons to ignite in nearly a decade.

The biggest limiting factor for early season development was a moderate to strong wind shear from the Gulf of Mexico, across the Caribbean and into the southern North Atlantic, AccuWeather.com Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said.

The first named tropical system strengthened to become the season's first hurricane, which was named Arthur on July 1.

The Category 2 hurricane, which had maximum sustained winds of 100 mph, impacted much of the East Coast through Independence Day. Arthur made landfall by grazing the Outer Banks of North Carolina's coast and slammed the region with high winds and heavy rainfall.

Hurricane Bertha followed a month later and was named on Aug. 1. The hurricane never reached Arthur's strength and never made landfall. However, Bertha's fury churned the seas, propagating large swells and dangerous rip-currents along the U.S. Atlantic shoreline.

Weeks later, the third hurricane of the season, Cristobal, developed and created similar impacts to Bertha while churning off the East Coast.

During the first week of September, Tropical Storm Dolly, the fourth system named this season, made landfall in northeast Mexico, triggering devastating flooding and mudslides in the region.

"It's been a quieter season," AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Jack Boston said, citing that only four named storms have developed by mid-September, the peak of the season, which is atypical.

The Eastern Pacific was far more active for tropical developments with a total of 14 named tropical systems this season, including Hurricane Iselle, the strongest storm ever to make landfall on the Big Island of Hawaii on Aug. 8.

The hurricane's maximum sustained winds were recorded at 140 mph. The storm made landfall on Hawaii with sustained winds near 60 mph and higher gusts.

Rounds of heavy rain, strong winds and rough seas and surf impacted the islands through Aug. 9. Widespread power outages, flooding rainfall and wind damage resulted as the storm moved across the region.

Hurricane Norbert, the most recent tropical system to impact the Eastern Pacific, developed around the time of Tropical Storm Dolly.

Moisture from Dolly and Norbert combined to produce heavy rain across the Southwest. On Sept. 8, Phoenix set their record rainfall of all time after being slammed by 3.2 inches early in the morning. The heavy rainfall caused widespread flooding throughout the region, including areas of Nevada northeast of Las Vegas, prompting several water rescues.

Together the two storms were responsible for bringing needed rain to the drought-stricken Southwest.

Cooler, Wetter Weather Diminishes Summer Heat Across the US

While dry conditions and rising heat pushed temperatures above normal for much of the Northwest this summer, which contributed to multiple wildfires, a good majority of the United States experienced cooler-than-average weather, Boston said.

Large portions of the central Plains and the Midwest received heavy rainfall in the late spring and early summer, leading to a much cooler season, he added.

"The Midwest and the East have experienced an unusually large amount of strong cold frontal passages which have been able to track deep into the South," AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Mark Paquette said in early August.

These fronts brought plenty of thunderstorm activity to these areas, which has sent rainfall well above normal in many locations, he added. In June, two tornadoes struck near Pilger, Nebraska, causing widespread damage.

From the beginning of June to mid-August, Minneapolis, Chicago, and Omaha, Nebraska, experienced nearly 150 percent of their normal rainfall.

The cool, wet pattern occurred during what is typically the hottest part of the summer and has left most cities far below average in terms of 90-degree days for 2014.

For much of the Midwest and East, the greatest concentration of 90-degree days occur in July.

In portions of Pennsylvania and New York state, high temperatures sank into the 60s at the end of July, often referred to as the dog days of summer.

Some of the wettest days of the summer for these regions occurred in mid-August, as commuters across the Northeast saw widespread flash flooding after intense storms rumbled through the region, dumping over 13 inches of rain in the Long Island area.

The potent storm system also contributed to widespread flooding in areas from Detroit to Boston.

A brief return of summer heat in late-August sparked the first days above 90 F in portions of the Northeast.

Temperatures hit 92 F in New York City in early September, marking the city's hottest day of the summer and of 2014.

Portions of the Southwest have also had lower-than-average temperatures due to monsoonal moisture from the tropics bringing heavy rainfall to the region this year, according to Boston.

The monsoonal moisture has caused rare flooding in areas of the Southwest including Phoenix, Arizona.

The combination of the focused storms, terrain and Arizona soil all worked together to provide the conditions for damaging floodwaters that swept across the region north of Phoenix.

Southwest Drought Refuses to Relinquish Its Grip

Despite recent rainfall, the withering grip of prolonged drought draining the Southwest of life and agricultural prosperity continues to worsen, raising concerns about the future for sustainable reservoirs, energy, agriculture, wildlife and healthy ecosystems.

More than 58 percent of California is now experiencing "exceptional" drought, or the most severe on the scale, with an additional 23 percent of the state cast in extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

In July, the California Water Resources Control Board gave local agencies the ability to go to court seeking fines on those who fail to implement water conservation.

Municipal water agencies in Arizona, California, Colorado and Nevada signed a water conservation agreement in early August, which will form the Colorado River System Conservation program. The program will protect water resources provided by the Colorado River.

The ongoing drought conditions and summer heat have sparked numerous wildfires across the western United States.

Thumbnail and slideshow photo courtesy of Twitter User Jerry Funfsinn