Whatever the cause, weather patterns appear unusual and getting more so.
The first 6 months of 2012 were the hottest first 6 months in a calendar year in Continental US, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported in early July. The widespread drought affecting major portions of the US appear to be worse in 6 decades and are likely to affect food prices.
The last 12 months have been the warmest since modern record keeping began in 1895, narrowly beating the previous 12-month period that ended in May 2012. Every state in the lower 48, except Washington, had warmer-than-average temperatures for the June 2011-2012 period, according to NOAA.
June 2012 was 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) warmer in the lower 48 states than the 20th-century average, but still just the 14th hottest June in the record books, according to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. June 1933, during the Dust Bowl period, was the hottest, but not by much.
Temperatures in South Carolina and Georgia of 113 degrees F (45 degrees C) and 112 degrees F (44 degrees C), respectively, are possible all-time statewide temperature records. Such record-high temperatures are in line with a long-term warming trend, according to Jake Crouch, a scientist at the center. “It’s hard to pinpoint climate change as the driving factor, but it appears that it is playing a role,” he said. “What’s going on for 2012 is exactly what we would expect from climate change.”