The Hottest Month in United States History, by the Numbers


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Red means it's the warmest month ever. Photo: NOAA

This past July was the hottest month in the recorded history of the lower 48 states. A severe drought and a larger than average summer heat ridge that kept cool weather from moving into the middle of the country contributed to the highest recorded average temperature notched since the government started keeping records in 1895. The July record is part of a larger trend of higher temperatures occurring across the United States over the last few decades, which many scientists point to as a likely result of climate change. Here's a quick look at the hottest month ever, by the numbers.

77.6 degrees: Average temperature for July, which is more than 3.3 degrees higher than the monthly average and 0.3 degrees higher than the monthly record: 77.4 degrees set in July of 1936.

56.4 degrees: Average temperature for January through July in the contiguous United States, the hottest recorded temperature for the first seven months of the year. The average temperature over recorded history for this time period was 4.3 degrees cooler.

32: States in which the average July temperature landed in the top 10 highest of all time.

4 degrees: Increase in the average July temperature for Virginia, which set a record for its highest monthly temperature ever.

128 degrees: Highest maximum temperature recorded during the month, in Death Valley, California.

63 percent: Area of the lower 48 states covered by drought at the end of the month.

2,000,000: Acres consumed by wildfire during the month, which is 500,000 acres above average.

—Joe Spring