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Washington (AFP) July 19, 2012
There is no end in sight to a vast hot spell causing the worst US drought in 25 years, with more high temperatures and dry weather anticipated over the next few months, forecasters said Thursday.
The United States is not alone in experiencing severe weather. Global land temperatures in June were the highest ever since records began in 1880, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Overall the world's land surface was 1.93 degrees Fahrenheit (1.07 Celsius) above average, said the monthly report, called NOAA's State of the Climate Global Analysis.
When land and sea temperatures were averaged together, it was the fourth warmest June on record.
In another worrying indicator, a measure of Arctic sea ice cover showed the second smallest amount since records began in 1979.
A massive amount of sea ice four times the size of Texas was lost last month -- 1.1 million square miles (2.86 million square kilometers), an all-time high for June.
Strong storms worthy of being named for their potential to become hurricanes were also abnormally high in the North Atlantic, marking the first time on record there have been four such events before July 1 in a single year.
Tropical storms Alberto and Beryl, Hurricane Chris and Tropical Storm Debby combined to cause unusually high rainfall in the southeastern United States, NOAA analysts said.
Elsewhere in the world, conditions were wetter than normal, such as in Britain, which experienced the most rain ever in June since records began in 1910.
The forecast was grim for the US drought, which officials have said would likely drive up food prices since 78 percent of US corn and 11 percent of soybean crops have been hit in the United States, the world's biggest producer of those crops.
"There is a possibility this could get worse," said Jake Crouch, a climatologist at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center.
NOAA forecasts for August showed above-average temperatures for most of the United States, a trend that is typically accompanied by less precipitation than normal.
That double punch of high temperatures and low rainfall is expected to continue through October and possibly through the end of the year.
While no forecast is definitive, trends indicate a "greater chance that there is no relief possible or in sight," said Dan Collins, monthly forecaster at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.
The current drought has been compared to a 1988 event that cut production by 20 percent and cost the economy tens of billions of dollars.
About 61 percent of the country is now affected by the drought.
An international report released earlier this month found that climate change is boosting the odds of some extreme weather events, and likely played a role in last year's Texas drought that endured for six months.
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