The USA just endured its third-hottest summer on record, according to data released this morning by the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.
The average U.S. temperature during the summer of 2012 was 74.4 degrees, which was 2.3 degrees above the long-term (1901-2000) average. Only 1936, at 74.6 degrees, and 2011, at 74.5 degrees, were warmer.
The climate center defines summer as June 1-Aug. 31. Two states -- Colorado and Wyoming -- had their warmest summers on record. A total of 23 states in the West, Plains, upper Midwest and Northeast sweltered through one of their top 10 warmest summers on record.
As for rainfall, the nation saw both extremes this season: Both Nebraska and Wyoming had their driest summer on record, while Florida had its wettest summer ever.
July was the hottest month in U.S. history, with an average temperature of 77.6 degrees, smashing a mark set during the Dust Bowl in 1936.
According to the Climate Prediction Center, the warmth is expected to continue for much of the USA east of the Rockies this fall. U.S. climate data go back to 1895. The climate data center will release global temperature data for the summer of 2012 next week.
By Doyle Rice, USA TODAY