By Ben Geman - 08/08/12 04:04 PM EDT
July was the hottest month on record in the contiguous United States, helping to make the first seven months of the year the warmest since record-keeping began more than a century ago, according to new federal data.
The average July temperature was 77.6°F, which is 3.3°F above the 20th century average for the month, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
“The warm July temperatures contributed to a record-warm first seven months of the year and the warmest 12-month period the nation has experienced since recordkeeping began in 1895,” the agency said in its monthly temperature report Wednesday.
Higher-than-average temperatures engulfed much of the contiguous U.S. during July, with the largest temperature departures from the 20th century average occurring across most of the Plains, the Midwest, and along the Eastern Seaboard. Virginia had its warmest July on record, with a statewide temperature 4.0°F above average. In total, 32 states had July temperatures among its ten warmest, with seven states having their second warmest July on record.
The data arrives a day after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), in a speech in Nevada, lambasted climate change “deniers” who are “fueled and funded by dirty energy profits.”
“These people aren't just on the other side of this debate. They're on the other side of reality,” Reid said, according to prepared remarks his office circulated.
His remarks drew a rebuke from Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), who breaks with the view of the vast majority of scientists by disputing the existence of global warming.
“If it's time to act on anything, it would be to stop President Obama from implementing these global warming policies that the American people have clearly rejected, and start developing America's vast energy resources to create millions of jobs and bring our economy back to life,” Inhofe said in a statement.