- Obama fantasizes about more executive power, signs new order on federal contractors
- Clintons call Klein, Halper, Kessler ‘a Hat Trick of despicable actors’: report
- Boehner accuses Obama of ‘legacy of lawlessness’
- Pro-marijuana group claims responsibility for Brooklyn Bridge flag swap
- Young adults shun Obamacare mostly due to cost: survey
- Stabbing attack on transgender girl, 15, was ‘bias motivated,’ police say
- LGBT adults still lean overwhelmingly toward Democratic Party
- Lawmakers rattled by Syria genocide horrors, call on Obama to act
- 3 African leaders cancel trip to U.S. over Ebola outbreak; Obama still plans summit
- Sarah Palin’s online channel hits snag as Stephen Colbert buys similar URL
Ouch! July in U.S. was hottest on record
Question of the Day
WASHINGTON (AP) — This probably comes as no surprise: Federal scientists say July was the hottest month ever recorded in the Lower 48 states, breaking a record set during the Dust Bowl era in the 1930s.
And even less a surprise: The United States this year keeps setting records for weather extremes, based on the precise calculations that include drought, heavy rainfall, unusual temperatures and storms.
The average temperature last month was 77.6 degrees. That figure breaks the old record from July 1936 by 0.2 degree, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Records go back to 1895.
“It’s a pretty significant increase over the last record,” said climate scientist Jake Crouch of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.
In the past, skeptics of global warming have pointed to the Dust Bowl to argue that recent heat isn’t unprecedented, but Mr. Crouch said this shows that the current year “is out and beyond those Dust Bowl years. We’re rivaling and beating them consistently from month to month.”
Three of the nation’s five hottest months on record have been recent Julys: this year, 2011 and 2006. Julys in 1936 and 1934 round out the top five.
Last month also was 3.3 degrees warmer than the 20th-century average for July.
Thirty-two states had months that were among their 10 warmest Julys, but only one, Virginia, had the hottest July on record. Mr. Crouch said that’s a bit unusual but it shows the breadth of the heat and associated drought.
For example, in 2011 the heat seemed to be centered mostly in Oklahoma and Texas. But this summer “the epicenters of the heat kind of migrated around. It kind of got everybody in the action this month,” Mr. Crouch said.
The first seven months of 2012 were the warmest on record for the nation. And August 2011 through July this year was the warmest 12-month period on record, just beating out the July 2011-June 2012 time period.
But it’s not just the heat that’s noteworthy. NOAA has a measurement called the U.S. Climate Extreme Index, which dates to 1900 and follows several indicators of unusually high and low temperatures, severe drought, downpours, and tropical storms and hurricanes. NOAA calculates the index as a percentage that mostly reflects how much of the nation experiences extremes. In July, the index was 37 percent, a record that beat the old mark for July last year. The average is 20 percent.
For the first seven months of the year, the extreme index was 46 percent, beating the old record from 1934. This year’s extreme index was heavily driven by high temperatures both day and night, which is unusual, Mr. Crouch said.
“This would not have happened in the absence of human-caused climate change,” said Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann.
Mr. Crouch and Kevin Trenberth, climate analysis chief of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said what’s happening is a double whammy of weather and climate change. They point to long-term higher night temperatures from global warming and the short-term effect of localized heat and drought that spike daytime temperatures.
Drought is a major player because in the summer “if it is wet, it tends to be cool, while if it is dry, it tends to be hot,” Mr. Trenberth said.
TWT Video Picks
By Ted Cruz
Israel saves its enemies; Hamas endangers its friends
- CIA admits improperly hacking Senate computers in search of Bush-era information
- Chicken pox outbreak puts illegal immigrant facility on lockdown
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
- GOP report sees ties between rich donors, green 'nonprofits'
- U.S. troops told not to eat, drink in front of Muslims during Ramadan
- Al Gore's climate-changers at EPA hearings foiled by cool temperatures
- Catholic League slams Obama: 'Do Christian lives mean so little to you?'
- Israel surprised by Hamas tunnel network
- House votes to sue President Obama over claims of presidential power
- EDITORIAL: The real Lois Lerner exposed in newly released emails
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world