SALT LAKE CITY — Whether global warming is supported by science is still up in the air, but there's no disputing the fact that July 2010 was the second-warmest on record for the Earth overall.

In fact, according to the National Climatic Data Center, the year 2010 is on track to have the planet's hottest average year ever recorded.

Utah as a whole was also warmer than normal for July. Only three states of the 50 — Montana, Idaho and Texas — had average temperatures that were below-normal for the month of July.

"Hot and dry" was the official National Weather Service description of Salt Lake City for July, as it ended up being a full two degrees above the average temperature for the month at 79 degrees.

Worldwide, the average temperature in July was 61.6 degrees, according to the National Climatic Data Center. Only July 1998 was hotter since records began more than a century ago.

And January through July were the warmest first seven months of any recorded year worldwide, averaging 58.1 degrees, and exceeding the previous record year of 1998.

However, Salt Lake City doesn't fit this warmest multi-month trend, though. So far in 2010, only the month of July has featured above-average temperatures for the Salt Lake City International Airport. Contrast the scorching July with the 5.6 degree below-normal temperature for May and the 0.5 below-average for June.

In fact, in the past 12 months, only two other months — November and September of 2009 — have boasted above-normal temperature averages. That means only three of the past 12 months have had above-normal warmth in Utah's capital city.

So far, this month is averaging 1.3 degrees above normal for Salt Lake City.

This new climatic temperature report comes after a month of worldwide extremes — floods, fires, melting ice and heat. Atmospheric scientists are increasingly concerned about human-induced global warming in recent years, yet politics and arguments about climate change have slowed any efforts to develop solutions.

The Climatic Center reported that a condition called La Niña developed during July as the waters of the central Pacific Ocean cooled. This situation is expected to last through the Northern Hemisphere winter of 2010-2011.

La Niña also tends to spawn more hurricanes, which could spell bad news for the Gulf oil cleanup.

For the nation, the Climatic Center noted that "intense heat either tied, or shattered, July monthly temperature records in several East Coast cities, including Washington, Atlantic City, N.J., and Hartford, Conn."

It was the hottest July ever for Delaware and Rhode Island. Every East Coast state, from Maine to Florida, also ranked in its top ten warmest.

Rainfall, averaged across the country, was much-above-normal in July, ranking in the top 10 percent for the past 115 years.

Much of the Plains and Upper Midwest experienced above normal wetness, the climate center noted. "Wisconsin had its second wettest July, while Texas had its fourth, Iowa its fifth and Missouri its eighth" wettest.

Salt Lake City in July had just 0.14 inches of moisture at the airport, or only 19 percent of normal. Contrast that with June, where the airport was 125 percent of normal moisture.

Statewide, in July, only 11 of 34 Utah weather reporting stations received above normal moisture for July — meaning more than 73 percent were below normal.

Temperatures in Salt Lake City hit in the mid- to high 90s during the latter part of this week but are expected to drop down to the 80s through early next week. There's also a 20 percent chance of rain in Salt Lake City today and a slight chance of moisture Saturday through Monday.

Contributing: Associated Press

e-mail: lynn@desnews.com