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TOPSHOT - Children play beside a lifeguard tower as sunset approaches at Sunset Beach in Huntington Beach, California on July 21, 2018. Photo: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

July marked California's hottest month on record, with an average temperature of 5°F above the 20th Century average, according to data released Wednesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Why it matters: The heat helped dry out vegetation, creating ideal conditions for large, rapidly-spreading wildfires. The largest wildfire on record in California, known as the Mendocino Complex Fire, eclipsed 300,000 acres for the first time in state history.

The details: The state's average monthly temperature of 79.7°F beat the previous record-holder for the state's warmest month by just 0.2°F, which occurred in July 1931.

  • At 108.1°F, Death Valley, California, had the hottest average monthly temperature for any recording station in the world.
  • The region where both the Mendocino Complex Fire and the deadly Carr Fire have burned also had its warmest month since reliable instrument records began in 1895.
  • For example, Redding, California, which was the site of an anomalous, destructive fire tornado had its warmest July on record as well, with an average temperature of 99.6°F.
  • A heat wave in early-to-mid July saw numerous all-time heat records fall, including in Los Angeles, where the temperature soared to 111°F.
    • In fact, according to NOAA, the U.S. had its warmest May through July period on record, beating the Dust Bowl record from 1934. Numerous states had a top-10 warmest July, but none set a record as California did.
  • Studies have shown that climate change increases the odds of heat extremes, and is likely exacerbating the severity and duration of wildfire season across the West.

NOAA connected the dots between the unusually hot weather and perilous wildfire situation in a tweet on Wednesday:

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Go deeper:

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Hill votes will make global waves

President Biden addresses the UN General Assembly on Sept. 21, 2021 in New York City. Photo: Eduardo Munoz-Pool/Getty Images)

This epic week for President Biden on Capitol Hill is even bigger than his domestic agenda.

Why it matters: Biden has anchored his entire strategy for foreign affairs on the notion that "America is back." What that means in practice is that Biden needs to prove democracy works to rally America’s liberal allies against rising authoritarians.

3 hours ago - World

German election: Exit polls show close race to succeed Angela Merkel

SPD leader Olaf Scholz. Photo: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg via Getty Images

BERLIN — The first exit poll from Sunday's German elections showed the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) and the center-right Christian Democrats (CDU) in a dead heat at 25%, leaving the race to succeed Angela Merkel too close to call.

The state of play: A second exit poll showed the SPD narrowly ahead. That's the one televisions displayed at SPD headquarters in Berlin, where the room erupted into cheers. Official results will roll in throughout the evening.

Abbott says he'll hire Border Patrol agents on horseback if they're fired

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Sunday defended the actions of U.S. Border Patrol agents who charged at Haitian migrants on horseback, blaming the Biden administration for not preventing them from crossing the border.

Why it matters: Abbott's remark on "Fox News Sunday" comes amid increased backlash over the incident, with President Biden saying, "I promise... those people will pay,” and the Department of Homeland Security launching an investigation.