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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:

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Energy & Environment

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm lashed much of the East Coast Sunday and Monday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: Authorities in North Carolina confirmed that two people died in a car crash and that they responded 600 vehicle accidents during the storm on Sunday, per the Washington Post.

2 hours ago - Health

CDC director says COVID-19 messaging should have been clearer

Rochelle Walensky. Photo: Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images

Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that the messaging around the COVID-19 pandemic and changing guidance should have been clearer.

State of play: Walensky is being coached by media experts and is planning to have more press briefings by herself in order to ensure that CDC is seen as an independent, scientific entity, rather than as a political one, the Journal reports.

2 hours ago - World

UAE asks U.S. to reinstate Houthi terrorist designation after attack

Secretary of State Tony Blinken (left) listens to United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan during a joint news conference at the State Department iin October. Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed asked Secretary of State Tony Blinken in a phone call Monday to re-designate the Houthi rebels in Yemen as a terrorist organization, a senior Emirati official told Axios.

Why it matters: Less than a month after he assumed office, President Biden rolled back the Trump administration’s decision to make the designation. He said it hampered humanitarian assistance to the Yemeni people. Since then, the Houthis have escalated their attacks against Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region — including an attack Monday in Abu Dhabi.