August is picking up where July left off, with hot and dry weather until further notice and a red flag warning for much of central Idaho.
The National Weather Service posted the warning from noon today until midnight, saying gusty winds and low humidity make conditions ripe for wildfires in and around the Sawtooth National Forest.
July was officially the fourth-warmest month on record, dating back to 1864, when the National Weather Service began chronicling temperatures. The thermometer topped 100 degrees on nine occasions in July, twice as many 100-plus days as July 2011. The hottest month on record, according to the National Weather Service, was July 2007.
Meanwhile, more than half the counties in the United States have now been designated disaster areas, mostly because of drought conditions. Officials announced on Wednesday that 218 more counties in 12 states have been given the designation, which brings the total this year to 1,584 counties, or 50.3 percent of all U.S. counties.
According to the Drought Monitor, currently 66 percent of the nation's hay acreage is in an area experiencing drought, and approximately 73 percent of the nation's cattle acreage is in an area experiencing drought.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that food prices could climb between 2.5 and 3.5 percent in 2012 and between 3 and 4 percent in 2013. The price of corn has jumped 50 percent since June.