Ouch! July in US was hottest recorded

Local data backs what national scientists declared — July was one of the hottest months ever on record.

Federal scientists say July was the hottest month ever recorded in the contiguous United States, breaking a record set during the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s. The average temperature for July was 77.6 degrees, breaking a mark set in July 1936 by 0.2 degrees, according to records kept by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

In Wapakoneta, the average mean temperature was 80 degrees, according to data maintained by local weather observer Dan Dietz.

“Temperatures soared into the 90s most of the month reaching over 100 on three days,” Dietz said in a report on his website. “There were only three days with high temperatures below 90 degrees.  That leaves 25 days of 90 and above degrees. The average high was 92.52 degrees while the average low was 67.48 degrees.”

Dietz recorded high temperatures for the month of 103 degrees on July 6 and July 7.

The weather also continued to bring drought conditions started in May and June. Dietz reported 2.09 inches of rain falling on the region, with most of the rain coming on July 24 when 1.31 inches fell. He recorded precipitation coming on only seven of the 31 days in July.

For the year, 2012 stands at 14.04 inches of precipitation, 12 inches below normal, Dietz reported. He said his records indicate drought years in 1988, 1975, 1958 and the Dust Bowl years of the mid 1930s.

NOAA scientists claim the increase must be noted.

“It’s a pretty significant increase over the last record,” NOAA climate scientist Jake Crouch said.

In the past, skeptics of global warming have pointed to the Dust Bowl to argue that recent heat isn’t unprecedented. But Crouch said this shows that the current year “is out and beyond those Dust Bowl years. We’re rivaling and beating them consistently from month to month.”

Three of the nation’s five hottest months on record have been recent Julys: This year, 2011 and 2006. Julys in 1936 and 1934 round out the top five.

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, just beating out the July 2011-June 2012 time period.

“This would not have happened in the absence of human-caused climate change,” Penn State University climate scientist Michael Mann said.

Crouch and Kevin Trenberth, climate analysis chief of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said what’s happening is a double whammy of weather and climate change. They point to long-term higher night temperatures from global warming and the short-term effect of localized heat and drought that spike daytime temperatures.

Drought is a major player because in the summer, “if it is wet, it tends to be cool, while if it is dry, it tends to be hot,” Trenberth said.

So the record in July isn’t such a big deal, Trenberth said.

But the fact that the first seven months of the year are the hottest on record is much more impressive from a climate standpoint, and highlights the fact that there is more than just natural variability playing a role: Global warming from human activities has reared its head in a way that can only be a major warning for the future.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.