The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed that July was the hottest on record in the contiguous United States, causing massive fish kills across the country and uncontrollable wildfires that consumed 2 million acres.
The drought expanded to cover 63 percent of the lower 48 states in July, according to NOAA data.
The warm July weather contributed to a record-warm first seven months of the year and the warmest 12-month period the nation has experienced since record-keeping began in 1895.
Higher-than-average temperatures engulfed much of the contiguous country during July, with the largest temperature departures from the 20th century average occurring across most of the Plains, the Midwest and along the Eastern Seaboard.
Virginia had its warmest July on record, with a statewide temperature 4 degrees F above average. Thirty-two states had July temperatures among its 10 warmest, with seven states having their second-warmest July on record.
Drier-than-average conditions continued across the Central Plains and Midwest during July. Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois and Missouri had July precipitation totals ranking among their 10 driest. Maine had its fifth-driest July on record.
The warm and dry conditions over a large portion of the country were associated with ideal wildfire conditions. More than 2 million acres burned nationwide in July because of wildfires, nearly half a million acres above average and the fourth-most on record since 2000.