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July heat breaks records in U.S.

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Widespread drought hits more than half of country

| August 9, 2012

July was the hottest month on record in the continental U.S., and that’s just one of the weather records set this year.  

This year’s scorching temperatures broke the record set during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s with an average temperature of 77.6 degrees, breaking the 1936 record by less than a degree. But the trend seems to be that July is getting hotter, with three of the country’s five hottest months being July 2011, 2006, 1936 and 1934.

More than half the country (63 percent) experienced drought conditions, which has led to widespread wildfires. More than 2 million acres were burned in July alone, nearly half a million acres than an average July.

A total of 32 states had Julys in the top 10 for heat, and the first seven months of 2012 were the hottest on record in the U.S. If that isn’t bad enough, August 2011 through July 2012 has been the hottest 12-month period on record.

The U.S. Climate Extreme Index, which tracks major weather events like droughts, severe high or low temperatures, tropical storms and more, is far beyond the average. So far this year, the index has been 46 percent, beating out the 1934 record. The month of July alone had an index of 37 percent, while the average is 20.

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