Anyone paying attention to news in the U.S. in June knows that the Midwest was unusually wet and the western U.S. extremely dry. A report from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, released July 9, discusses those and other climate trends for the early summer of 2008.

June was the 27th warmest month in the U.S. since 1895, when record-keeping began. The average June temperature was 70.4 degrees, 1.1 degrees above the 20th century mean.

One result was a spike in energy demand, about 7.5 percent above the average for June.

June was marked by great extremes in weather – a predicted consequence, many scientists say, of the continued rise in average global temperatures. Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, and Vermont were much wetter than average, and subsequent flooding in the Midwest was the worst since 1993.

In the West, lightning strikes across Northern California and Arizona sparked hundreds of fires in tinder-dry forests, scorching 2.1 million acres by June 30. The fires persisted well into July, causing smoky and unhealthy air and widespread evacuations throughout California in particular.

Twenty-seven percent of the nation – in the Southeast, parts of the southern Plains and the West – was in a “moderate to exceptional” drought at the end of June. That compared to 22 percent a month earlier.