The first eight months of 2012 were the hottest ever recorded in the continental United States and the summer period of June, July and August was the third hottest ever, the National Climatic Data Center reported Monday.
Although the August average of 74.4 degrees Fahrenheit made it only the 16th hottest August on record, the hottest July ever combined with the hottest spring on record to keep January-August 2012 atop the record books.
The nation as a whole is averaging 4 degrees Fahrenheit above average for the year. That's a full degree higher than the same period in 2006, the second hottest January-August on record.
Record keeping began in 1895.
The record warmth is a constant for from cities north to south, from Fargo, North Dakota, at 5.7 degrees F above average, to Tampa, Florida, at 2.2 degrees F above average. Green Bay, Wisconsin, posted the biggest difference to the average, 6.7 degrees F above.
The hottest temperature recorded for the month was 126 degrees F in Death Valley, California, recently recognized as the hottest place on Earth.
If you were looking colder than normal weather, the West Coast was the place to be. San Diego was .2 degrees F below normal for the year, San Francisco was 1 degree F below normal, Portland, Oregon, .7 degrees F below normal and Seattle, 1.1 degrees F below normal.
Outside the continental 48, Alaska and Hawaii temperatures were also below normal.
Meanwhile, drought conditions continued to affect a large chunk of the 48 states. The portion of the country experiencing exceptional drought, the worst level of drought, doubled in August to 6%, the NCDC reported. Overall, 39% of the country was in severe to extreme drought, "indicating that the drought has intensified," it said. Only the droughts of the 1930s and 1950s have been worse, the agency said.
In a year that has seen the United States record its hottest month ever comes word that the country now owns the title of the hottest air temperature recorded on Earth.
The World Meteorological Organization, the weather and climate agency of the United Nations, has recognized Death Valley, California, as the place where the planet has seen its hottest day ever, July 10, 1913, when it reached 134 degrees Fahrenheit (56.7 degrees Celsius).
Death Valley was able to lay claim to the title when the U.N. agency invalidated the previous record, 136.4 degrees F (58 degrees C), that was recorded at El Azizia, Libya, on September 13, 1922.
The July heat wave that wilted crops, shriveled rivers and fueled wildfires officially went into the books Wednesday as the hottest single month on record for the continental United States.
The average temperature across the Lower 48 was 77.6 degrees Fahrenheit, 3.3 degrees above the 20th-century average, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration reported. That edged out the previous high mark, set in 1936, by two-tenths of a degree, NOAA said.
U.S. forecasters started keeping records in 1895. The seven months of 2012 to date are the warmest of any year on record and were drier than average as well, NOAA said.FULL STORY
By Chris Welch, CNN
Washington, Iowa (CNN) - For Rachel and Dan Berdo and their four young children, hogs are everything: They're the source of nearly all of the family's income.
The couple from the small town of Washington are particularly worried this year because of the drought, considered the worst in a generation.
With more than half the country in some state of drought, farmers are feeling the impact on their livelihood and consumers could expect to feel a hit in their wallet when they go to the supermarket soon, experts say.
The U.S. is facing the largest drought since the 1950s, the National Climatic Data Center reported Monday, saying that about 55% of the country was in at least moderate short-term drought in June for the first time since December 1956, when 58% of the country was in a moderate to extreme drought.
The hot, dry weather in June, which ranked as the third-driest month nationally in at least 118 years, according to the center, made the problem worse.
That has left farmers on the edge of their seat worrying about how much damage their harvests will sustain and how much of their livelihood they may stand to lose this year.
Throughout the Midwest, farmers are seeing signs of damaged crops. In the 18 states that produce most of our corn, only 31% of the crops were rated good or excellent this week, that’s down from 40% last week, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This same time last year, 66% of corn crops were rated good or excellent. Soybean crops, which can be used in creating diesel fuel, are seeing similar troubles; 34% of the U.S. crop was rated good or excellent, down from 40% last week. This time last year, 64% were in that condition.
Derek Mullin, a farmer from Mount Pleasant, Iowa, told CNN’s Chris Welch that in a good year he can get 200 bushels of corn per acre, but this year he expects that number reduced by 25%.
That lost money will hurt him and his family and he said there is nothing he can do about it.
"This is our personal business. It's right at our back door. As soon as we walk out of our house we see our investment and when it goes downhill it does take a toll on you,” he told CNN. “One of the hardest parts about this is you can do everything just right - planting dates, work hard at putting in a good crop, have a good stand established - and when mother nature works against you, then it all seems like it was for nothing."
Mullin's expected low yield of corn, and similar situations for other farmers, is specifically why this drought is getting a lot of attention, Richard Volpe, an economist with the USDA's Economic Research Service told CNN.
"Corn is a major input for retail food," he said. "Corn is used to make feed for all the animals in our food supply chain. As this drought reduces the harvest of corn, that would drive up the price of feed for animals and then in turn meat products."
Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.
Surging mercury and power outages because of storms have combined forces to make many readers miserable.
With temperatures around 107 degrees in Nashville, iReporter Holly Coons tried to bake cookies in the car.
"I actually burned my hand when I grabbed the cookie sheet out of the car," she says, adding that she considers the hourlong experiment a success. "I would have made a bigger batch if I knew they were going to turn out so good."
In South Charleston, West Virginia, Eddie Harmon has been without power for days. He's unemployed and trying to stay cool as much as he can; his wife and the couple's younger daughter slept in the car last night. Another daughter is staying with her grandmother, who has a generator. At 6 feet 5 inches, Harmon has to try to sleep in the house.
"It is very hard to sleep," he says. "I’m doing the best I can with it. I’m probably getting anywhere from five to three hours of sleep and not until 5 in the morning when the house finally cools off."
He recorded a video the day after losing power, in which he shares his tips for coping with the heat.
Several CNN.com readers also joined the conversation about temperatures and energy stability.
For some, a short time without power was enough to have them concerned. The following reader said they had made several calls to their electrical service provider in the hopes of getting information, but it was very difficult. They also said Santa might be bringing them a generator this year.
RabbitMan196: "I live in Virginia and was without power for three days. I have an electric well (no manual capability yet - will be rectified VERY soon) so no power means no water. I drove 50 miles on Saturday looking for ice. I think I now know what the end of the world (at least in America) will look like: thousands of folks driving in their air-conditioned cars, clogging gas stations and looking for ice."
But others said we need to be more resilient without power.
Lovemypitbulls: "We are so reliant on computers and electricity that we freak out when we lose them. That gas station in Silver Spring could still sell ice and food. People shouldn't go without because electric cash registers aren't working. Pen and paper will get the job done; it'll just mean a little more work for the owner when the power finally comes back."
Some people are very miserable. FULL POST
It may be near the end of the week before power is restored to some of the millions of those lacking electricity following weekend storms as another day of sweltering temperatures was forecast for much of the nation Monday.
The intense early-summer weather has baked areas from Missouri to New York to Georgia with record-breaking heat and unleashed fierce storms that knocked out power over the weekend. At least 16 people were killed from the series of storms.
While the mercury Monday was forecast to stop short of the century mark in many areas, high temperatures will still approach 100 degrees and will definitely be in the 90s for most of the eastern two-thirds of the country, according to CNN meteorologist Sarah Dillingham.FULL STORY
Nearly 52 record-high temperatures for 2012 have been reached in the past seven days, according to CNN meteorologist Sean Morris.
Summer has definitely arrived in the United States with record-breaking temperatures soaring into the triple digits, and relief is slow to follow. The sizzling heat may not subside for a week, possibly longer.
From Kansas to Washington, heat warnings, watches and advisories spanned 730,000 square miles, affecting about 100 million people on Friday alone.
Excessive heat warnings were posted for 12 states, from Nebraska to New Jersey, on Friday by the National Weather Service.
As fierce thunderstorms battered their way across the Midwest to the Atlantic Seaboard on Friday night, the wicked weather caused mass power outages, leaving residents to suffer the heat without air conditioning.
Deaths possibly related to the heat are still being investigated. People are checking on their neighbors, and cities are putting cooling centers into place and extending pool hours.
The temperatures soaring above 100 degrees are nowhere near normal for this time of year in the United States, Morris said.
But we've experienced hideously hot ones before the dog days of summer officially set in before.
In its list of all-time record highs, The Weather Channel reported that Childress, Texas, climbed to 117 degrees on June 26 last year, beating any temperature on record for any month, dating back to 1893.
Borger, Texas, and Gage, Oklahoma, both hit 113 degrees on June 26, while Fort Smith, Arkansas, hit 115 degrees on August 3.
If the temperatures are climbing dangerously high in your city, be sure to check our five tips to survive extreme heat.
How are you beating the heat in your area? Let us know in the comments below.
Many of us went through a winter that seemed nonexistent. There were no major blizzards or numbing arctic outbreaks. And it looks as if spring continued much of the same weather pattern throughout the United States.
After reviewing the past several months, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that May 2012 will end as the second warmest on record in the United States. It also said that the spring period of March through May will go down as the warmest on record since record keeping began in 1895.
The average temperature in May over the contiguous United States was 64.3 degrees, or 3.3 degrees above normal. For spring, the average was 57.1 degrees, 5.2 degree above normal. The previous record for warmest spring was set in 1910; this spring beat that year by 2 degrees.
If you look back over the last 12 months from June 2011 to May 2012, it is the warmest 12-month period of any 12 months on record, according to NOAA.
The warm temperatures were not tied to any one particular part of the country. In the contiguous United States, only Oregon and Washington had spring temperatures near normal.
Data starting on January 1 through the end of May show many cities are off to their warmest start since record keeping began at the location:
Chicago – Warmest in 54 years
New York City (Central Park) – Warmest in 137 years
New York City (JFK) – Warmest in 55 years
Philadelphia – Warmest in 72 years
Washington (Dulles) – Warmest in 50 years
On the last weekend of winter, people were taking out their skis in Arizona and putting them away in Minnesota. They were putting on sweaters in Phoenix and stripping down to their shorts to ice fish near Fargo, North Dakota. They were calling out snowplows in the California desert and counting the millions left in their snow removal budget in Ohio.
There were real extremes in a record-breaking streak of weather across the country.
Here's how the topsy-turvy climate confounded convention:
Officials closed 180 miles of Interstate 40 across northern Arizona on Sunday as a winter storm dumped more than a foot of snow on the region. In Flagstaff, schools were closed Monday as the snow made travel hazardous.
But some snow-hungry visitors went to Flagstaff specifically for the snow, CNN affiliate KPHO-TV in Phoenix reported.
"We knew what the weather would be like up here so we made sure to keep all of our snow gear so we could come up here and play in the snow and have lots of fun," Jennifer Gregory told the station.
South Koreans found themselves sweltering in the heat, stuck in elevators and even without cell phone service Thursday as power outages affected hundreds of thousands of people across the country.
The South Korean Ministry of Knowledge Economy said high demand for air conditioning during a heat wave, together with reduced supplies as power plants were shut down for maintenance, likely led to the blackouts, the country's Yonhap news agency reported.
The country's sole electric service provider, Korea Electric Power Corp., said it was forced to cut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to prevent the electrical grid from falling below reserve levels that could lead to a nationwide blackout that could take days or weeks to recover from, according to the Yonhap report.
The power company instituted rolling blackouts that lasted about four hours, ending at about 8 p.m. local time.
The power cuts led to 100 reports of people trapped in elevators and shut down banks and schools, The Korea Herald reported. No injuries were reported.
Temperatures went as high as 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 Celsius) in Seoul on Thursday, about 10 degrees higher than average.
"There were many power plants that began their annual maintenance as the hot season passed. Demand was unusually high today while they were preparing for the cold season," a ministry official told Yonhap.
Temperatures in the 80s are expected to continue through Saturday.
Dallas may be the only city in Texas – maybe even the country – that boasts a gas station with a swimming pool. Now, as the city endures a relentless summer heat wave, "Fuel City" is arguably one of few inviting outdoor scenes in town.
This summer's heat wave is wreaking havoc on virtually all aspects of life in Dallas, which has had 40 straight days of grueling 100-plus degree temperatures, with no end in sight.
Outdoor restaurants are nearly barren despite water misters and street-side advertising. Popular walking trails are empty of all but the most dedicated exercise enthusiasts and even they restrict their activity to the early morning hours, when the thermometer reads in the "bearable" upper 90's.
One night last week, the temperature was still reading an unthinkable 99 degrees at midnight!
It's not just miserable and hot outside, something for everyone to agree on and complain about. This year's heat event has also been deadly.
Three things you need to know today.
Gas prices: Will steep losses in the world's stock markets bring relief at the gas pump?
Oil prices have fallen more than 17% in the past month, finishing the day Monday at $83.10 a barrel, CNNMoney reports. That's down from almost $100 a barrel just two weeks ago. And at that time prices were expected to rise this year.
The government will issue its monthly price outlook Tuesday. Whether oil prices go up again may depend on whether market forecasters see a weakening of global economic demand after the stock market sell-offs.
Meanwhile, the national average gas price fell about a penny a gallon overnight to $3.65 a gallon, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report. The average was $3.70 a week ago.
Heat warnings: The National Weather Service said Tuesday it has dropped excessive heat warnings for most of the U.S.
Eastern Oklahoma and southeastern Louisiana must endure excessive heat watches or warnings for at least another day, forecasters said, while heat advisories are in effect in parts of the Southern Plains and the Southeast.
Polygamist trial: Closing statements are scheduled to begin Tuesday morning in the penalty phase of Warren Jeffs' trial.
The polygamist sect leader was convicted last week on two counts of sexual assault on a child.
The prosecution and the defense will have 30 minutes to offer their statements Tuesday. Deliberations are expected to begin immediately thereafter.
On Monday, the two sides rested their cases, without the defense calling any witnesses.
Three things you need to know today.
Waves threaten plant: Workers in China were repairing a dike damaged by huge waves from Tropical Storm Muifa in an effort to protect a petrochemical plant, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
Waves as high as 65 feet (20 meters) broke through the dike in Dailan, Xinhua reported, citing military personnel working on the repair. Officials fear a toxic spill could occur if sea water reaches the plant.
The Fujia chemical plant produces paraxylene, a carcinogenic chemical used in making polyester film and fabrics, Xinhua reported.
Dangerous heat: Most of Oklahoma and parts of Kansas, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi are under excessive heat warnings Monday as the heat indices in those areas could reach 110 degrees.
The National Weather Service warned against most outdoor activities, saying life-threatening situations could develop, especially if proper hydration isn't practiced.
Some areas may get limited relief from thunderstorms, forecasters said, but they also warned the dangerous heat may not break until midweek for other areas.
LeBron's bikeathon: Miami Heat star LeBron James is headed back to his hometown of Akron, Ohio, on Monday, this time to lead a 2.6-mile bike ride through the city’s streets as part of his “Wheels for Education” initiative.
James and 20 high school students will pedal from the University of Akron to East High School where hundreds of students in the program will await them.
The bike ride will be the first event since the program underwent a name change from the King for Kids Bike-A-Thon. The initiative strives to improve the academic success of third-graders from single-parent households.
“We felt it was time to change the Bikeathon to something that could be more educational at the same time,” James told the Akron Beacon Journal. “We feel great about it.”
A Texas reservoir has turned a deep red, prompting a pastor to speculate it's a sign of the coming Apocalypse.
But the Texas Department of Fish and Wildlife says it's just an indication of how bad the current drought is. About 99% of Texas is under drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
The Texas Department of Fish and Wildlife says water levels in the reservoir receded, which, mixed with the warm weather, helped lower oxygen levels. The low oxygen levels prompted a fish kill and spurred the growth of bacteria called Chromatiaceae, which thrive in such conditions. Chromatiaceae are purplish in color, prompting the "blood" red descriptions.
Texas Department of Fish and Wildlife says the reservoir will be restocked with fish as soon as the drought ends and water levels return to normal.
The Texas drought has emptied several other lakes, including one in East Texas. The receding water revealed a part of the space shuttle Columbia, which broke up over Texas in 2003, at the bottom of the lake.
Listen to the full story:
Dallas has seen a solid month of triple-digit temperatures, and 15 states are under National Weather Service heat advisories. To put those figures into some historical and scientific context, here's a round of hot-weather factoids. If you're in one of those 15 sweltering states, please drink a glass of water while you read them.
There are no nationwide rules written to protect high school athletes from sudden death due to hot weather.
Two high school football players in Georgia collapsed and died on August 2 after practice. This makes at least three possibly heat-related deaths on high school football fields in the past week.
Atlanta Public Schools on Wednesday banned all outdoor student activities until after 6 p.m. through the end of the week because of high heat and humidity in the region. The restriction covers all grades at all schools and includes football, other sports and band practices. Many coaches and band directors have moved practices indoors, the district said.
"We think it was the worst week in the last 35 years in terms of athlete deaths," said Dr. Douglas Casa, chief operating officer of the Korey Stringer Institute of health medicine at the University of Connecticut and author of the book "Preventing Sudden Death in Sports and Physical Activity."
One of Japan's top male soccer players died Thursday, two days after suffering heat stroke following a practice.
Defender Naoki Matsuda, 34, who played in 40 matches for Japan's national team, including the 2002 World Cup tournament, suffered cardiopulmonary arrest after practice Tuesday, The Japan Times reported.
He died shortly after 1 p.m. Thursday, Kyodo News Service reported.
"On behalf of FIFA and the worldwide family of football, I wish to extend our condolences to you, to the Japanese football community and, most importantly, to Naoki Matsuda's friends and loved ones. Please let them know that today the football community stands by their side," Joseph S. Blatter, president of the international soccer's governing body, said in a statement.
Matsuda played 385 Japan Football League games for Yokohama F. Marinos from 1995 to 2010, according to The Japan Times.
Hiromi Hara, Japan Football Association technical director, fought back tears after being informed of Matsuda's death during an unrelated press conference Thursday, Kyodo reported.
The death comes less than three weeks after the Japanese women's national team captured the Women's World Cup in an emotional victory over the favored U.S. team.
Extreme weather – The heat wave is taking a deadly toll across the nation, particularly on athletes, as two football players and a coach died during summer football practices this week. The heat wave, now in its second month, is responsible for record-setting electricity use in Texas and dozens of deaths across the U.S. heartland.
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Emily is bringing heavy rains to Haiti on Thursday, heading directly over Port-au-Prince, where many quake victims live under precarious conditions. Nearly 12,000 U.N. peacekeepers are on emergency standby.
And Typhoon Kabayan, forecast to be a category 4 storm, could hit or pass Okinawa, Japan, late Thursday. The typhoon has boosted monsoon rains over the northern Philippines.
Turkey recall – Cargill Meat Solutions Corp. announced an immediate recall of 36 million pounds of ground turkey meat because it may be contaminated with salmonella bacteria. Cargill's plant in Springdale, Arkansas, processed the fresh and frozen ground turkey products between February 20 and August 2, the company said. At least one person has died and 76 have been sickened in 26 states.
Police responding to a call about four dead bodies on a Missouri basketball court found two adults and two children alive but suffering from exposure to the heat, CNN affiliate KSDK reported Tuesday.
Officers in Pine Lawn woke the adults, who said they were merely napping. But the two children, ages 3 and 4, were drenched in perspiration and urine and had steam rising from their bodies, KSDK reported.
The children were hospitalized. The woman, who is the children's mother, was arrested and may be charged with parental neglect, the station reported.
Pine Lawn is 10 miles northwest of St. Louis. The temperature in the area reached 102 degrees Tuesday, KSDK reported.