July was the hottest month in the continental United States on record, beating the hottest month in the devastating Dust Bowl summer of 1936, the U.S. government reported on Wednesday.
It was also the warmest January-to-July period since modern record-keeping began in 1895, and the warmest 12-month period, eclipsing the last record set just a month ago, theNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said.
This is the fourth time in as many months that U.S. temperatures broke the hottest-12-months record.
The average temperature for July across the contiguous 48 states was 77.6 degrees F (25.3 degrees C), or 3.3 degrees F (1.7 degrees C) above the 20th century average. The previous warmest July, in 1936, averaged 77.4 degrees F (25.2 degrees C).
Along with record heat, drought covered nearly 63 percent of the 48 contiguous states, according to NOAA's Drought Monitor, with near-record drought conditions in the Midwest, where 75 percent of the U.S. corn and soybean crops are grown.
Analysts expect the drought, the worst since 1956, will yield the smallest corn crop in six years, meaning record-high prices and tight supplies. It would be the third year of declining corn production despite large plantings.