Frank Moralez sells cold beverages to motorists in Philadelphia, July 7, 2012. (Joseph Kaczmarek/AP)Click image to view more photos.
In what should come as no surprise to many people living in the United States in the last month or so, the first half of 2012 was officially the hottest ever recorded.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the period from January through June was "the warmest first half of any year on record for the contiguous United States."
The average temperature was 52.9 degrees Fahrenheit, or 4.5 degrees above average, the NOAA said on Monday. Twenty-eight states east of the Rockies set temperature records for the six-month period. The 12 months ending June 30 was the warmest 12-month period of any on record, according to the NOAA.
[Slideshow: Beating the heat]
Record-breaking temperatures blistered most of the United States in June, with more than 170 all-time temperature records broken or tied during the month. On June 28 in Norton, Kansas, for instance, the temperature reached 118 degrees, an all-time high. On June 26, Red Willow, Nebraska, set a temperature record of 115 degrees, eclipsing the 114-degree mark set in 1932.
The first six months of the year were also drier than most, with precipitation totals 1.62 inches below average. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, more than half of the country (56 percent) experienced drought conditions--the largest percentage in the 12-year history of the service.
The NOAA report comes on the heels of a heat wave that's been blamed for at least 30 deaths and shattered more than 3,000 temperature records in July alone.
Not all states have experienced the record-breaking heat, however. The state of Washington had its seventh coolest June on record, the NOAA said.