If you hung around the lower 48 U.S. states this July then this news likely won't surprise you. It was the hottest month on record with an average temperature of 77.6 degrees, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). That's 3.3 degrees hotter than the 20th century average and the previous hottest month on record in July 1936 at 77.4 degrees.
It also marked the hottest 12-month period since the NOAA began tracking such data in 1895.
Air conditioners set to maximum, ice cream cones, and dip in the pool or under the garden hose tend to define these summer days where we experience regular 80-degree-plus days, or even periods exceeding 100-degrees in some areas, but rising temperatures contribute to a variety of serious weather conditions from the current drought hurting the nation's farmlands, wildfires in the west, and the storms that cut through the Northeast earlier this summer, cutting power to hundreds of thousands.
While rain levels have been mixed throughout the country (California had its fifth wettest July on record while Nebraska, Kansas and Arkansas experienced record dryness), the existing drought has now expanded to 63% of the contiguous United States, NOAA said. The last U.S. drought that came close to being this bad was in 1956.
An exception to this heat was the Pacific Northwest, which experienced about average temperatures over the first seven months of the year.
The NOAA's July report for global temperatures is yet to come, but its prior reports show consistent temperature rises across the borders raising new concerns for the health of the planet.
Earlier this month, a rapid and sudden melt of Greenland's ice sheet also alarmed scientists.