The United States is Heating Up (Infographic)

The first six months of 2012 were the hottest of any year on record.
The first six months of 2012 were the hottest of any year on record. (Image credit: Ross Toro, LiveScience Contributor)

January through June was the warmest first half of any year on record for the contiguous United States. The national average temperature for the year of 52.9 degrees Fahrenheit was 4.5 degrees above the 20th-century average, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

In June alone, scorching temperatures during the second half of the month broke or tied over 170 all-time temperature records in cities across America. 

Twenty-eight states set their warmest first six months on record since 1895, and a staggering 22,356 daily record high temperatures was documented nationally, according to a report from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center.

Fifty-six percent of the contiguous U.S. are experiencing drought conditions, the largest percentage in the 12-year record of the U.S. Drought Monitor. Worst hit are the agriculture regions of the West, Central Plains and Ohio Valley.

The hot, dry conditions have also allowed for a dramatic increase in wildfire activity as the year-to-date acreage burned by wildfires increased to 3.1 million acres.

Overall, the outlook remains bleak, as little relief is in sight even as rain is forecast for some drought areas over the coming week.

Ross Toro
Infographics Artist
Ross Toro is a contributing infographic artist for Live Science. He specializes in explanatory graphics that deal with science topics. Ross is a former art director of the Los Angeles Times, Associated Press and United Press International. He teaches Filipino martial arts when not dabbling in cartoons and animation.