WASHINGTON — July was the hottest month ever recorded in the United States, beating the previous record set in the 1930s Dust Bowl era, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Wednesday.
The average temperature in the contiguous 48 states last month was 77.6 degrees, 3.3 degrees warmer than the average for the 20th century under a system of recordkeeping that began in 1895.
A hot July also contributed to the warmest 12-month period ever recorded in the United States, the statistics showed.
The data only sharpen the details of a relentlessly grim summer. More than 60 percent of the country is in the grip of "moderate or exceptional" drought, according to NOAA, an increase of 7 percent from the end of June.
Crops and livestock have been devastated. Much of the nation faces the threat of wildfire.
"Over 2 million acres were burned nationwide during July due to wildfires, nearly half a million acres above average," NOAA said.
A research paper published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences argues that exceedingly high summer temperatures, longer summers and related catastrophes, such as wildfires and drought, are poised to be the norm — and that they're driven by climate change.
Information from New York Times was used in this report.