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Shattering Mark Set During Dust Bowl, US Just Had Hottest May Ever Recorded

"If you thought it was a strangely warm May, you're right."

April 1938: A dust bowl farmstead in Dallam County, Texas, showing the desolation produced by the dust and wind on the countryside adding to the problems of the depression in the USA. (Photo: Three Lions/Getty Images)

Surpassing a mark set during the peak of the Dust Bowl in 1934, the continental United States just had its hottest May on record thanks in large part to the human-caused climate crisis, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced on Wednesday.

"For May, the average contiguous U.S. temperature was 65.4°F, 5.2°F above the 20th century average," NOAA observed in its breakdown of the new data. "The first five months of 2018 were marked by large month-to-month swings in temperature, but when averaged, the contiguous U.S. temperature was 45.0°F, 1.6°F above the 20th century average and was the 21st warmest January-May on record."

"The warmth was coast-to-coast," Jake Crouch, a climate scientist with NOAA's National Center for Environmental Information, said in an interview with USA Today.

While acknowledging that tropical storms—in addition to other "climate anomalies"—played a role in driving up May's average temperature, Crouch told USA Today that the man-made climate change contributed significantly the record-breaking heat.

In addition to surpassing the average temperature over the entirety of the month, May also saw "more than 8,590 daily warm temperature station records broken or tied," NOAA notes.

"This was 18 times more than the approximately 460 daily cold temperature station records during the month," NOAA found. "Several of the daily records were noteworthy, including 100°F on May 28 in Minneapolis, Minnesota—the earliest such occurrence on record."

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