It's official: the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed that the July heat wave that withered crops and dried up rivers was the hottest month ever recorded in the contiguous United States.
July marked Boise's fourth-warmest month on record, dating back to 1864, when the National Weather Service began chronicling temperatures. The thermometer topped 100 degrees at the Boise Airport on nine occasions in July, twice as many as a year ago.
Nationwide, the average temperature for the lower 48 in July was 77.6 degrees, breaking the old record from July 1936 at the height of the Dust Bowl, by two-tenths of a degree.
July 2012 was 3.3 degrees warmer than the 20th century average, according to weather.com.
"While three degrees might not seem like much because temperatures can vary a lot more than that from day to day, it’s significant when averaged over a whole month," said Stu Ostro, senior NOAA meteorologist. "And particularly so in the summer, when temperatures typically have less variation than at other times of year."
CNN reports that the seven months of 2012 to date are the warmest of any year on record and were drier than average as well. June was the third-driest month nationally in at least 118 years.
The latest reports indicate an estimated 55 percent of the country is facing at least moderate drought conditions—the largest swath since 1956.