At Scripps Pier in San Diego, the surface water reached the highest temperature in 102 years of records, 78.8 degrees.

Palm Springs had its warmest July on record, with an average of 97.4 degrees. Death Valley experienced its hottest month on record, with the average temperature hitting 108.1. Park rangers said the heat was too much for some typically hardy birds that died in the broiling conditions.

Across California, the nighttime brought little relief, recording the highest minimum temperature statewide of any month since 1895, rising to 64.9.

California has been getting hotter for some time, but July was in a league of its own. The intense heat fueled fires across the state, from San Diego County to Redding. It brought heat waves that overwhelmed electrical systems, leaving swaths of Los Angeles without power for days.

The extreme conditions — capping years of trends heading in this direction — have caused scientists and policymakers to speak more openly and emphatically about what is causing this dramatic shift.

The pace of heat records being broken in California in recent years is leading more scientists here to assertively link climate change to unrelenting heat that is only expected to worsen as humans keep putting greenhouse gases in the air.

"In the past, it would just be kind of once in a while — the odd year where you'd be really warm," state climatologist Michael Anderson said.

But the last five years have been among the hottest in 124 years of record keeping, he said.

Los Angeles Times