A sign alerts visitors to water conservation efforts at the state Capitol, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Sacramento, Calif. The state is having one of its warmest years on record, contributing to its difficult drought. / Rich Pedroncelli AP
So far this year, California is enduring its hottest year ever recorded, according to a climate report issued by the National Climatic Data Center. Records go back to 1895.
Temperatures in the Golden State have averaged nearly 5 degrees above average from January through June of this year, contributing to the intense drought that's now encompassing the entire state.
Due to the drought, the California State Water Resources Control Board this week approved a $500-a-day fine for people who water driveways, sidewalks and landscapes.
Unusual early-season wildfires also scorched the state through the first half of the year, including at least 10 in mid-May that burned more than 20,000 acres.
California hasn't been alone in the heat this year: Most of the West has had a much warmer-than-average year, with states such as Arizona, Nevada, Oregon and Utah each having one of their 10 warmest starts to the year since records began.
On the other side of the temperature spectrum, below-average temperatures have been widespread this year east of the Rockies. Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi and Wisconsin each had a top 10 coldest January-June.
During the month of June, while the USA was slightly warmer than average, the main story was the rain: June 2014 was the sixth-wettest June on record nationally, and the wettest since 1989.
Minnesota had its rainiest single month ever recorded, with a statewide average of almost 8 inches of rain.
Several other central states - including South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois and Tennessee - had a top 10 wet June.
Looking ahead, the "record and near-record precipitation during June could increase the chances of river and lake flooding into mid- and late- summer," the NCDC report stated.
Beyond that, according to the Climate Prediction Center, there is a 70% chance of El Niño conditions developing this summer, increasing to an 80% chance by fall and winter. El Niño, a warming of tropical Pacific Ocean water, often (but not always) brings increased rain and snow to the West.
However, a report this week by the University of California-Davis suggests the statewide drought will continue into 2015, even if an El Niño should come through.
Read the original story: Calif. sees record hot year; Midwest endured soggy June