July Heat Shatters Records Across U.S.

If you are one of the millions who suffered and complained about the oppressive heat the past month, there are now a lot of official numbers to back you up.

CBS News correspondent Joie Chen reports that it was no ordinary July — it was a record breaker.

For much of the country, the fever has finally broken. By lunchtime on Saturday, the temperature in Washington, D.C., had dropped to a cool 83 degrees.

And after so many scorching days, New York's double digit high was downright comfortable.

"It feels like it's 60 degrees," said one woman sitting on a bench in the shade.

"For the first time in about three days, I've left my apartment," said another while sunbathing.

It's not just that the last few weeks seemed blast-furnace hot.

"The records were staggering," said Dennis Feltgen, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service. "I had to look at them again and again and I still couldn't believe it myself."

Across the country, more than 2,300 daily heat records were shattered:

  • 50 cities in 21 states recorded new highs for the month.
  • At Kelly Ranch, S.D., the old record of 111 was scorched off the books by a new high — 120 degrees.
  • In Woodland Hills, Calif., the old record was 116. This July: 119.
  • Even normally moderate Hillsboro, Ore., matched its record high of 108 degrees.

    But meteorologists are puzzled by what happened after the sun went down.

    "I thought it was going to turn cool but it's not, it's not," said one woman.

    It didn't cool off. More than 90 nighttime temperature records were broken last month, and experts warn more hot times lie ahead.

    "We need to be prepared for heat waves because obviously they're going to be coming bigger and badder over the coming decades," said Feltgen.

    Which raises the question: does July's heat wave prove that there is global warming?

    Scientists say one event — even a month-long one — doesn't prove anything. But overall, they do see heat waves getting longer — and more dangerous.
    Joie Chen