By Randolph E. Schmid/The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Sweltering may have reached a new record last month, as Oklahoma racked up the country’s highest monthly average temperature ever.
That’s the highest average temperature, for any month, for any state, associate Oklahoma state climatologist Gary McManus said.
According to automated weather recording instruments, the state’s average for July was 89.1 degrees. That tops an average of 88.1 set in July 1954, McManus said.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Monday reported that last month was the fourth hottest July on record for the U.S. and that Texas and Oklahoma had their warmest months on record.
“We’ve been beating temperature records left and right, from the 1930s Dust Bowl drought and the 1950s drought,” said McManus, who admitted that’s not the kind of record you put on a Chamber of Commerce promotion.
And it’s not like Oklahoma is alone in this.
Nationwide, in the past 30 days 3,709 high temperature records have been set or tied.
And, worse, there have been 7,410 records for overnight warmth broken or tied, meaning less chance to recover from the sweltering daytime readings.
“This has been a devastating year,” National Weather Service director Jack Hayes said. “Natural disasters are on the rise in the United States,” he noted, including records for heat, tornadoes, floods and fires, and with the bulk of hurricane season still remaining.
Waco, Texas, tied its record for the most consecutive days of 105 degrees or more at six (Aug. 1-6). The previous were Aug. 31-Sept. 5, 2000, and Aug. 9-14 1969.
And Dallas-Fort Worth is on pace to establish a new record for consecutive 100-degree days. It’s currently at 38 days, from July 2 to Aug. 8. The record is 42 set June 23-Aug. 3, 1980.
The July average for Texas was 87.1 degrees.
The current heat wave is typical of U.S. heat waves in the past decade and is consistent with the increasing warm summer nighttime extremes observed across much of the country since the late 20th century, NOAA reported.
Other findings included:
— Forty-one of the lower 48 states had above-normal, much-above-normal or a record warmest July.
— The South climate region — Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas — had its warmest single calendar month for any climate region on record. The average temperature of 86.1 degrees bested the previous all-time record of 85.9 set in July 1980 in the South climate region.
— Dallas exceeded 100 degrees on 30 of the 31 days in July.
— Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., had its warmest single calendar month on record, with an average temperature of 84.5 degrees, breaking the previous record of 83.1 degrees set in July 2010 and July 1993.