July was hottest month ever in the contiguous United States

WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) -- July was the hottest month on record in the contiguous United States, beating the hottest month during the devastating heat wave in 1936 and expanding drought which now covers nearly 63 percent of the Lower 48 states, government scientists said on Wednesday.

The National Climatic Data Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the average temperature for July across the contiguous U.S., which includes all states except Alaska and Hawaii, was 77.6 degrees Fahrenheit (25.3 degrees Celsius). This is 3.3 degrees Fahrenheit (1.8 degree Celsius) above the 20th century average.

The temperatures make July the hottest month on record since record-keeping began in 1895. The previous warmest July in the Unites States was during the devastating Dust Bowl summer of 1936, which claimed more than 5,000 lives in the United States alone and destroyed large numbers of crops.

July this year also contributed to a record-warm first seven months of the year and the warmest 12-month period ever.

The heat in recent months has also contributed to rapid expansion of drought, which now covers 62.9 percent of the contiguous United States, an increase of about 6.9 percent when compared to the end of June. Drought on July 24 covered approximately 63.9 percent of the contiguous United States, making it a record in the 13-year history of the U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM).

The warm and dry conditions over a large portion of the country also made it an ideal condition for wildfires. Over 2 million acres (809,371 hectares) were burned nationwide during July due to wildfires, nearly half a million acres (202,343 hectares) above average, and the fourth most on record since 2000, the National Climatic Data Center said.

While NOAA has not yet reported on global temperatures for the month of July, the agency reported last month that the average combined global land and ocean surface temperature in June was 1.13 degree Fahrenheit (0.63 degree Celsius) above the 20th century average of 59.9 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 degrees Celsius), making it the fourth warmest June since records began in 1880.

But records were still broken. NOAA said the globally-averaged land surface temperature for June was 1.93 degree Fahrenheit (1.07 degree Celsius) above average, making it the all-time warmest June on record when excluding ocean surface temperatures. When including both land and ocean surface temperatures, it was also the warmest June on record in the Northern Hemisphere.

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