Meltdown: July Sets Record for Hottest Month

Another month, another temperature record broken in the United States.

In a "State of the Climate" report released on Wednesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that July was the hottest month since record-keeping began in 1895. If the unusually warm weather persists, 2012 could become the hottest year on record. The chart below compares the temperature anomalies of 2012 with those of every year since 1895. It's clear 2012's heat is soaring above the rest. (Click on the image for a larger view.)

Other highlights (or lowlights) from the report:

  • 63 percent of the continential U.S. is in a state of moderate to exceptional drought.
  • Nearly 2 million acres (an area larger than Delaware) has been burned in wildfires.
  • The drought has reduced the flow of the lower Mississippi River to a near-record low.
  • The first seven months of 2012 were the warmest of any year on record.
  • The year ending in July was the warmest 12-month stretch on record.
  • California had its fifth-wettest July ever.

Will the extreme temperatures spur Congress to act on climate change? Probably not, as National Journal's Olga Belogolova reported in July. Eighty-four percent of National Journal's Energy & Environment Insiders said that news of record temperatures will not be enough to move legislation.


LISTEN: Voices From the Drought

GRAPHIC: A History of Droughts in the U.S.

RELATED STORY: The State of the Power Grid