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The month of June was the hottest on record in North America, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

In a press release, the agency said that the exceptional heat waves that swept the western U.S. – as well as historic and unprecedented drought – helped push June 2021 to the top of the list after 127 years of record keeping.

The average June temperature across the contiguous U.S. was more than 4 degrees above average at 72.6 degrees Fahrenheit. 

That temperature also surpassed a June 2016 record by 0.9 of a degree.

Eight states including Arizona, California, Idaho, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Utah saw their hottest June on record and six others – Connecticut, Maine, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming – saw their second-hottest June.

NOAA noted that while the average June precipitation across the country precisely matched the month’s historical average at 2.93 inches, some states saw extremes in rainfall with either too much or too little.

The year-to-date (YTD) average temperature for the region also rose above the 20th-century average by 1.7 degrees at 49.3 degrees Fahrenheit, placing in the warmest third of the record. 

Both California and New Hampshire saw their fifth-warmest YTD temperature and Maine saw its third. 

Additionally, the precipitation total for that time period was 0.67 of an inch below average at 14.64 inches, ranking in the driest-third YTD on record.

Nine states across the country record a top 10 driest YTD on record, according to NOAA.

Athlete Sam Richardson uses a UV-Blocking Sun protection umbrella while speed-walking in Elysian Park in Los Angeles Wednesday, July 7, 2021. High heat and record temperatures are expected across the West this weekend. In California’s Death Valley, about 150 miles west of Las Vegas, temperatures could reach 130 (54 C). Forecasters warned that much of California will see dangerously hot weekend weather, with highs in triple digits in the Central Valley, mountains, deserts and other inland areas because of strengthening high pressure over the state. Heat warnings did not include major coastal populations. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

The agency also highlighted that the first six months of 2021 had brought eight billion dollar weather disasters including severe storms, flooding events, a winter storm with a deep freeze and the heat wave-influenced drought.

That number is up from the nearly 44% of contiguous U.S. in drought at the beginning of June as conditions have intensified or expanded, in part due to the threat of climate change and anthropogenic forcing. 

In its National Climate Assessment, NOAA wrote that the fact the Earth’s climate is changing is “apparent across the United States in a wide range of observations.”

“The global warming of the past 50 years is primarily due to human activities, predominantly the burning of fossil fuels,” the agency said, noting “stronger evidence confirms” that an increase in extreme weather and climate events – like heat waves — are related to human activities. 

“Human-induced climate change is projected to continue, and it will accelerate significantly if global emissions of heat-trapping gases continue to increase,” said NOAA.

A United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs report released last week shows that – despite a coronavirus pandemic-related “economic slowdown” – 2020 was still one of the three warmest years on record, with the global average temperature approximately 1.2 degrees Celsius above the 1850 –1900 baseline.


“A temporary reduction in human activities resulted in a dip in emissions. However, concentrations of greenhouse gases continued to increase in 2020, reaching new record highs,” the report noted. 

“The world remains woefully off track in meeting the Paris Agreement target of limiting global warming to 1.5 [degrees Celsius] above pre-industrial levels and reaching net-zero CO2 emissions globally by 2050,” it said.

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