Folks who sweated through last month’s blistering heat wave may be surprised to know it was only the second hottest July on record for the United States.
More than 2,300 daily temperature records were broken from coast to coast, and the average temperature for the 48 contiguous states was 77.2 degrees Fahrenheit, the National Climatic Data Center reported Monday.
July 1936 still holds the record at 77.5, while July 1934 fell to third place at 77.1, the agency said.
The average July temperature is 74.3 degrees based on records going back to 1901.
Overall, the first seven months of 2006 were the warmest January-July of any year in the United States on record.
Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say that no single heat wave can be blamed exclusively on human-induced global warming. However, they added that in coming decades heat waves will become more likely and progressively more intense.
In July, 51 percent of the United States, mostly in the Plains states and Southeast, was in moderate-to-extreme drought. The most extensive drought occurred in July 1934 when 80 percent of the country was affected.