July 2012 was, according to NOAA scientists, 3.3°F above the 20th century average temperature, and it was the hottest July and the hottest month on record for the nation.
And there was much less rain. During July, the total rain was only 2.57 inches, which was 0.19 inch below average. Near-record dry conditions were present for the middle of the nation, with the drought footprint expanding to cover nearly 63 percent of the Lower 48, according the U.S. Drought Monitor, while some areas such as the Gulf Coast and the Southwest had wetter-than-average conditions.
This monthly analysis (summary, full report) from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides government, business and community leaders so they can make informed decisions.
U.S. climate highlights -- July
- Higher-than-average temperatures engulfed much of the contiguous U.S. during July, with the largest temperature departures from the 20th century average occurring 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.
- Drier-than-average conditions continued across the Central Plains and Midwest during July. Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri had July precipitation totals ranking among their ten driest. Maine had its fifth driest July on record.
- An active storm pattern in the Southwest contributed to California having its fifth wettest July on record and Nevada having its eighth wettest. Wetter-than-average conditions were also observed through the rest of the Southwest, along the western Gulf Coast, and through the Ohio Valley where West Virginia had its tenth wettest July.
- The warm and dry conditions over a large portion of the country were associated with ideal wildfire conditions. Over 2 million acres were burned nationwide during July due to wildfires, nearly half a million acres above average, and the fourth most on record since 2000.