US has second-warmest year to date, says NOAA

Key Points
  • The United States is having its second-warmest year so far, says NOAA.
  • July was the hottest month on record for Bakersfield, California; Reno, Nevada; Salt Lake City and Miami.
The sun sets beyond visitors to Liberty Memorial as the temperature hovers around 100 degrees in Kansas City, Mo.
Charlie Riedel | AP

The contiguous United States is having its second-warmest year so far in 123 years of record keeping, according to new data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In the first seven months of 2017, nearly every region of the country had above-average temperatures. Record and near-record winter warmth helped keep temperatures above average across much of the Southwest, and from the Rocky Mountain region to the East Coast. Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina had their warmest January-to-July period on record, NOAA said.

Only parts of the northwestern United States were cooler than average for the year so far.

Overall, the month of July was the 10th warmest for the country since records were kept. July average temperatures were above average in parts of both the Western and Eastern U.S.

Bakersfield, California; Reno, Nevada; Salt Lake City and Miami all had their hottest July, and hottest month, on record.

However, parts of the Great Plains region, the South, Midwest and Northeast all felt either near-or below-average temperatures during the month.

The report noted that this may have been due in some cases to heavy rainfall, particularly in the Midwest and Northeast. This is the seventh-wettest January-to-July period. For example, Wisconsin had record levels of rain, more than 7 inches above the average for the period.

To put this in context, NOAA measurements found 2016 was the second-warmest year on average for the U.S., just edged out by 2012's record-setting average of 55.3 degrees Fahrenheit.

But 2016 was the warmest year on record for the planet as a whole and was the third year in a row to set record global average temperatures. NOAA and NASA data say 16 of the 17 warmest years on record for the planet have occurred since 2001.

On Tuesday, The New York Times obtained a draft copy of a 545-page report put together by a large team of scientists detailing evidence for and discussing the impacts of a long-term global warming trend.

"Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse (heat-trapping) gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climate change," the report said.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has expressed skepticism over the connection between carbon dioxide and climate change. The EPA is one of the government agencies that will have to approve the contents of the report, the Times said.