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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:

Go deeper:

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Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”