July 2012's average temperature of 77.6 degrees Fahrenheit for the continental United States beat the previous record holder, July 1936, by one fifth of a degree, reports the National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration.
Last month was a record setter. July was the hottest month on record for the continental United States since record keeping began in 1895.
Last month's average temperature, 77.6 degrees Fahrenheit (25.3 degrees Celsius) edged past the previous record holder, July 1936, which hit 77.4 degrees F (25.2 degrees C), according to U.S. weather records.
This record-breaking warmth in July contributed to the warmest 12-month period the lower 48 states have experienced since the late 19th century, the U.S. National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported today (Aug. 8).
The previous record, July 1936, was set at a time when the nation was experiencing a multi-year drought, which aggravated the heat. On the other hand, wetter weather tends to mean cooler temperatures.
During July, near-record dry conditions were present for the middle of the country, with the drought footprint expanding to cover nearly 63 percent of the continental United States, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported. [Dry and Dying: Stark Images of Drought]
However, this summer's drought has not been as long-standing as that of the 1930s, leading to speculation that, in spite of a trend toward unprecedented warmth, this year could not compete with the Dust Bowl era.