WASHINGTON (AP) — This probably comes as no surprise: Federal scientists say July was the hottest month ever recorded in the Lower 48 states, breaking a record set during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.
And even less a surprise: The U.S. this year keeps setting records for weather extremes, based on the precise calculations that include drought, heavy rainfall, unusual temperatures, and storms.
The average temperature last month was 77.6 degrees. That breaks the old record from July 1936 by 0.2 degree, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Records go back to 1895.
"It's a pretty significant increase over the last record," said climate scientist Jake Crouch of NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. In the past, skeptics of global warming have pointed to the Dust Bowl to argue that recent heat isn't unprecedented. But Crouch said this shows that the current year "is out and beyond those Dust Bowl years. We're rivaling and beating them consistently from month to month."
Three of the nation's five hottest months on record have been recent Julys: This year, 2011 and 2006. Julys in 1936 and 1934 round out the top five.
Last month also was 3.3 degrees warmer than the 20th century average for July.
Thirty-two states had months that were among their 10 warmest Julys, but only one, Virginia, had the hottest July on record. Crouch said that's a bit unusual, but that it shows the breadth of the heat and associated drought.
For example in 2011, the heat seemed to be centered mostly in Oklahoma and Texas. But this summer "the epicenters of the heat kind of migrated around. It kind of got everybody in the action this month," Crouch said.
The first seven months of 2012 were the warmest on record for the nation. And August 2011 through July this year was the warmest 12-month period on record, just beating out the July 2011-June 2012 time period.
But it's not just the heat that's noteworthy. NOAA has a measurement called the U.S. Climate Extreme Index which dates to 1900 and follows several indicators of unusually high and low temperatures, severe drought, downpours, and tropical storms and hurricanes. NOAA calculates the index as a percentage, which mostly reflects how much of the nation experience extremes. In July, the index was 37 percent, a record that beat the old mark for July last year. The average is 20 percent.
For the first seven months of the year, the extreme index was 46 percent, beating the old record from 1934. This year's extreme index was heavily driven by high temperatures both day and night, which is unusual, Crouch said.
"This would not have happened in the absence of human-caused climate change," said Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann.
Crouch and Kevin Trenberth, climate analysis chief of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said what's happening is a double whammy of weather and climate change. They point to long-term higher night temperatures from global warming and the short-term effect of localized heat and drought that spike daytime temperatures.
Drought is a major player because in the summer "if it is wet, it tends to be cool, while if it is dry, it tends to be hot," Trenberth said.
So the record in July isn't such a big deal, Trenberth said. "But the fact that the first seven months of the year are the hottest on record is much more impressive from a climate standpoint, and highlights the fact that there is more than just natural variability playing a role: Global warming from human activities has reared its head in a way that can only be a major warning for the future."
Here are some more numbers unlikely to provide cold comfort. The coolest July on record was in 1915. The coldest month in U.S. history was January 1979 with an average temperature of 22.6 degrees.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
27 photos Launch gallery
1. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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2. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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3. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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4. Jus haaaanngin out
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5. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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6. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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7. new new
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8. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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9. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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10. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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12. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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13. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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14. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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15. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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16. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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17. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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18. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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19. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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21. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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22. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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23. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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24. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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25. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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26. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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27. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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