WASHINGTON -- This probably comes as no surprise: Federal scientists say July was the hottest month ever recorded in the contiguous United States.
The average temperature for the Lower 48 last month was 77.6 degrees. That breaks the old record from July 1936, during the Dust Bowl, by two-tenths of a degree. Records go back to 1895.
Last month also was 3.3 degrees warmer than the 20th century average for July.
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.
Climate scientist Jake Crouch of the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., said the U.S. is getting a double whammy of both localized heat and drought along with effects of global warming.