July 2012 was the hottest month on record. According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration the average temperature across the Lower 48 was 77.6 degrees Fahrenheit, 3.3 degrees above the 20th-century average.
The new record is slightly higher than the 1936 record, edging out that years temperature average by two-tenths of a degree.
July also helped make the first seven months of 2012 the warmest of any year on record as well as the driest time period to date. The new 12 month record tops the previous mark set from July 2011 through June 2012.
The record was helped along by warmer-than-average temperatures in every Lower 48 state except Washington.
High temps have wreaked havoc on most states, causing drought and drought-like conditions. According to CNN:
“The high temperatures have contributed to a “rapid expansion” of drought across the central United States, NOAA found. Dozens of cities and towns already have seen the mercury hit record levels this summer, and three states — Nebraska, Kansas and Arkansas — saw record dry conditions between May and July.”
According to the Wall Street Journal the southwest was hit the hardest in terms of sheer heat with Arizona and Nevada regularly reaching triple digits.
The hottest temperature recorded in 2012 was 128 degrees on July 12.
According to NOAA figures 62.9% of the contiguous U.S. experienced moderate to exceptional drought by the end of July 2012.
With the record heat waves sweeping across the United States farmers have watched as their corn and soy bean crops have taken a drastic hit, enough for some analysts to predict a 4% food price increase by the end of the year while costing farmers and the farm industry as a whole billions of dollars.