Nightly News | August 08, 2012
>>> good evening from london. once again tonight we begin right back in the u.s. this time it's about the summer of 2012 and the now official word that arrived today that the last month and the last year were the hottest ever recorded. the hottest of all time since they started keeping records. of course in terms of drought, we're feeling the effects this year. but look at the numbers from just today. little rock , arkansas, high of 101, tulsa 105, salt lake city 103. and in phoenix, arizona, a new record today of 114. and the news here appears to be we better get used to it. nbc's rehema ellis starts us off tonight.
>> reporter: the signs have been everywhere, highways buckling, cracked earth across the midwest. today the government scientists who monitor the nation's weather made it official. july 2012 was the hottest month ever.
>> it is a big deal . we have over 1400 months of record dating back to 1895 . we look at a month of data. there's a lot of observation that is go into that.
>> reporter: in fact, the average temperature for this july was 77.6 degrees. that is 3.3 degrees hotter than the 20th century average. and that's just july. the biggest impact of all this heat is the drought.
>> 33 years we've always had a crop. it's not looking good right now.
>> reporter: more than half of the country experienced moderate to exceptional drought conditions at the end of july. that's up 7% from the month before.
>> it is a large increase for any given month. you know, 7% of the country. that is a significant portion of the country. most of that has been driven by the warmer than average temperatures.
>> reporter: heat and drought conditions set the perfect stage for wildfires. across the west and plains states wildfires have ravaged the landscape and people's lives.
>> this is what's left of our house. it's dust and ash really.
>> reporter: in july alone, more than 2 million acres burned nationwide. the heat impacted lakes and rivers, too. throughout the midwest, inland lakes with 83 plus degree temperatures are causing massive fish kills. what does it all mean?
>> we could be looking at a new normal. the long-term temperature trend across the u.s. is increasing.
>> reporter: a trend many americans might not want to think about warming up to. the white house has authorized an additional $30 million to help those in areas most affected by the drought. here in astoria, queens, until just a few moments ago, the quickest fix for all this would be a dip in the pool as this heat shows no signs of letting up. brian.
>> rehema ellis starting us off