We’ve covered this topic prior to today, but now it’s official –July 2012 was the warmest month ever recorded for the lower 48 states according to a report released on Wednesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center. The average temperature for the month came in at 77.6°F overall, which is 3.3°F higher than the 20th-century average, and 0.2°F warmer than the previous hottest month on record, which was July 1936. It wasn’t just that July was a single record month: the 12 months ending with July was the warmest such period since modern recordkeeping began in 1895, and the January-July 2012 period was also the warmest on record. The National Climatic Data Center also looked at precipitation: the average for July was 2.57 inches, which was 0.19 inches below average. That may not sound like much of a shortfall, but the nation’s midsection experienced near-record dryness. Overall, the so-called drought footprint for the states, excluding Alaska and Hawaii, covered nearly 63 percent of the total land area, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The drought is the most widespread and intense drought since at least 1956, and is expected to cost billions in damage to agricultural interests, as what was expected to be a bumper corn crop withered under unrelenting heat and dry conditions.
Photo Credit: John Vlahakis