Last month was 3.3 degrees above the 20th century average.
In more than 117 years of records, July 2012 stands alone as not only the hottest July on record in the lower 48 United States, but also the hottest of any month on record in that time span. To put it another way, July 2012 was the hottest of more than 1,400 months that we've gone through since 1895.
The report released by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Wednesday says that July 2012 surpassed the previous record hottest month set in July 1936. That year was during the middle of the very dry and hot Dust Bowl era. Senior Meteorologist Stu Ostro (Twitter) says, "Exceeding July 1936 at the peak of the Dust Bowl heat -- is BIG."
July 2012 was 3.3 degrees above the 20th century average. Ostro puts this in perspective, "While three degrees might not seem like much because temperatures can vary a lot more than that from day to day, it’s significant when averaged over a whole month, and particularly so in the summer when temperatures typically have less variation than at other times of year.”
NOAA says that warmer-than-average temperatures engulfed much of the nation in July, with largest departures from average in the Plains, Midwest and along the East Coast.
A total of 32 states had a top ten warmest July. Among those, Virginia recorded its hottest July on record and seven more states recorded their second hottest July (North Carolina, Kentucky, Delaware, Illinois, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming).
Warmest Start to the Year Continues
Only Washington, California, Arizona and Louisiana had temperatures that were near average in July. Outside the lower 48 states, Alaska recorded its eighteenth coolest July.
With the addition of July, the warmest start to a year on record continues in the lower 48 states. NOAA says that most states have seen a record or near-record warm start to the year, except the Pacific Northwest.
So far this year, a total of five months have been a top four warmest for that respective month. March and July lead the pack as the warmest of their respective months.
In addition to the warmest start to the year on record, the last 12 months dating back to August 2011 have been the hottest on record.