July 2012: hottest month on record for contiguous United States
Drought expands to cover nearly 63% of the Lower 48; wildfires consume 2 million acres
The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during July was 77.6°F, 3.3°F above the 20th century average, marking the hottest July and the hottest month on record for the nation. The previous warmest July for the nation was July 1936 when the average U.S. temperature was 77.4°F. The warm July temperatures contributed to a record-warm first seven months of the year and the warmest 12-month period the nation has experienced since recordkeeping began in 1895.
Well-above-normal temperatures once again dominated the nation’s weather in July. According to NOAA, “the largest temperature departures from the 20th century average occurred across most of the Plains, the Midwest, and along the Eastern Seaboard. Virginia had its warmest July on record, with a statewide temperature 4.0°F above average. In total, 32 states had July temperatures among its ten warmest, with seven states having their second warmest July on record.”
Rainfall was more variable over the Southeast U.S. Above-normal rainfall occurred in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky. Near-normal rainfall occurred over the Carolinas and Virginia. The only Southeast U.S. states to report below-normal rainfall were Georgia and Florida.