January to June 2012 warmest first half of any year on record

As overcast skies move in, Eric Vandeven and his son Braxton ,10, enjoy the relatively cooler temperatures in their backyard pool Sunday, July 8, 2012, in Imperial., Mo. "The temperature just dropped, not by much, but you can feel it. It sure looks like it will rain," said Vandeven. "My backyard grass could sure use it," he added. A high of only 98 degrees ended the historic 100-degree temperature streak .
Laurie Skrivan,AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch

(CBS News) January to June 2012 was the warmest first half of any year on record for the contiguous United States, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The average temperature during that period was at 52.9 degrees F, which is 4.5 degrees above the typical average. Twenty-eight states east of the Rockys were had record warm temperatures, with an additional 15 states in the top 10 for warm temperatures. Every state across the contiguous U.S. had warmer than average temperatures, except Washington.

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The first six months were also drier than average, producing 1.62 inches below nationally-averaged precipitation. Fourteen states had precipitation totals among their ten driest for the time period. However, wetter-than-average conditions were observed Northwest and upper Midwest. Minnesota, Oregon, and Washington had six-month precipitation totals among their ten wettest.

The higher temperatures were aided by the recent heat wave that caused at least 65 deaths. While temperatures have cooled down, the temperature has broken more than 2,100 temperature records since July 1.

The high heats have also aided the wildfires in their spread and damaged crops in the Midwest. Iowa farmer Andy Hall said that corn prices have risen 18 percent this month because of the heat damage.

"You can tell the corn's been stressed by the way the leaves are curled up. It looks like pineapples," Hall explained to CBS News.

The high-temperatures may be a warning for future warming trends, Jake Crouch, a scientist at the National Climatic Data Center, told Reuters. Whether or not pollution from carbon dioxide emissions is the main cause, the higher temperatures are becoming a "new normal."

"It's hard to pinpoint climate change as the driving factor, but it appears that it is playing a role," he said. "What's going on for 2012 is exactly what we would expect from climate change."