July was the hottest month on record in the continental United States, continuing the warmest January-to-July period since modern record-keeping began in 1895, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported Wednesday.
The average temperature for July across the continental US was 77.6 degrees F -- 3.3 degrees F above the 20th century average.
The last four 12-month periods have each successively established new records for the warmest period of that length.
In the 12-month span from August 2011-July 2012, every state observed warmer than average temperatures except Washington state, which was near average.
A record setting drought continues to plague 63 percent of the 48 contiguous states, according to NOAA's Drought Monitor, with near-record drought conditions in the Midwest.
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According to Jake Crouch, a scientist at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, drought and heat continue to play off each other, as dry soils in the summer tend to drive up daytime temperatures.
"The hotter it gets, the drier it gets, the hotter it gets," Crouch told Reuters.
A statistical climate change analysis led by NASA's James Hansen, released Monday shows that recent extreme weather events are not anomalies, but rather the result of a systemic climate change patterns fueled by man-made global warming.