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Chicago - 2012 Was Hottest Year On Record In U.S., Climate Agency Says

Published on: January 8, 2013 09:32 PM
By: Reuters
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Cattle run from a wildfire in Texas during the country's long drought. Photo: APCattle run from a wildfire in Texas during the country’s long drought. Photo: AP

Chicago - The year 2012 was the warmest on record for the contiguous United States, beating the previous record by a full degree in temperature, a government climate agency said on Tuesday.

Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the average temperature in 2012 in the contiguous United States was 55.3 degrees Fahrenheit (12.94 degrees Celsius), 3.2 degrees above the average recorded during the 20th century and 1.0 degree above 1998, until now the hottest on record. The contiguous United States excludes Alaska and Hawaii.

The agency also confirmed what many farmers in the nation’s midsection and many residents of the western part of the country already knew: 2012 was drier than average.

The year was 15th driest year on record, it said. At the peak of the heat in July 2012, 61 percent of the country was in drought, NOAA said, including the nation’s breadbasket of the Midwest, as well as the Southwest and Mountain West, where wildfires charred 9.2 million acres.

The agency’s U.S. Climate Extremes Index, which tracks volatility in temperature and precipitation as well as the number of tropical cyclones making landfall, was twice as active as normal in 2012, the agency said. Only 1998 had more extreme weather, NOAA said.

There were 11 weather-related disasters in the continental United States during 2012, with losses topping $1 billion, including Hurricanes Sandy and Isaac and a series of tornadoes in the Great Plains, Texas and the Ohio Valley, it said.

Among the other findings released on Tuesday:

* Every state in the contiguous U.S. experienced above-average annual temperatures in 2012. Nineteen had a record warm year and an additional 26 had one of their 10 warmest.

* Spring started off with the warmest March on record, followed by the fourth-warmest April and the second-warmest May. The season’s temperature was 5.2 degrees Fahrenheit above average, making it the warmest spring on record, surpassing the previous record by 2.0 degrees, the agency said.

* The above-average temperatures during the spring continued into summer. The heat peaked in July with an average temperature of 76.9 degrees Fahrenheit (24.94 degrees Celsius), 3.6 degrees above average, making it the hottest month ever observed in the continental United States.

* An estimated 99.1 million people - nearly one-third of the nation’s population - experienced 10 or more days during the summer when temperatures exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the agency said.

* There were fewer-than-average tornadoes in 2012. Although the season got off to a busy start with large outbreaks in March and April, May and June - typically the most active months of the year - there were fewer than half the normal number of tornados. The final tornado count for 2012 was less than 1,000, NOAA said, the smallest number since 2002.

* While Hawaii and Alaska were outside the area where the hottest weather hit last year, NOAA said those two states had unusual weather of their own during the year. Alaska was cooler and slightly wetter than average during 2012, the agency said. In Hawaii, drought conditions spread during the year, with 63.3 percent of the state experiencing drought by the end of the year.


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Read Comments (8)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jan 08, 2013 at 10:05 PM Secular Says:

What about the rest of the planet?

2

 Jan 08, 2013 at 11:15 PM Reb Yid Says:

So? How many trillions of dollars does Obama want to spend to try to reverse global warming, in order to prevent a billions dollars a year in weather-related damage? And that's assuming that we can possibly change the weather.

3

 Jan 09, 2013 at 02:55 AM Anon Ibid Opcit Says:

Reply to #1  
Secular Says:

What about the rest of the planet?

Also the warmest year on record. Ten of the last twelve years have been. And I believe five continents have had their warmest recorded year in the last two or three. We've seen ice-free water to the North Pole. The oil, coal and shipping companies may say they are "skeptical" about global warming. But they are staking claims to mineral and navigation rights in the soon-to-be exploitable Arctic. Glacier National Park is - I'm quite serious - considering changing its name because the glaciers it's named after are almost gone.

4

 Jan 09, 2013 at 08:22 AM Materetsky Says:

Hey I enjoyed it.

5

 Jan 09, 2013 at 01:40 PM marcia Says:

Al was right after all HUH...must be right in selling his station to Al Jazeera too HUH? So much for being GREEN, they are Arab oil magnates!

6

 Jan 09, 2013 at 03:07 PM Anonymous Says:

One of these days, our great rabbonim will recognize this problem for what it is, and think of a torah-compliant solution. Right now, they are ignoring this problem and, instead, accusing those of us who are concerned about this problem of being liberals, socialists, misnagdim, Gore-niks, and tree-huggers. When they recognize this problem for what it is, I, as well as thousands of intelligent Jews around the world, will echo the famous words spoken by Golda Meir to Anwar Sadat when he came to visit Israel: "What took you so long?" Until then, I shall avoid the calumny of friends and relatives, and sign off as "Anonymous".

7

 Jan 09, 2013 at 06:49 PM ShmuelG Says:

Reply to #4  
Materetsky Says:

Hey I enjoyed it.

You and me both, my friend.

8

 Jan 09, 2013 at 06:53 PM ShmuelG Says:

Reply to #3  
Anon Ibid Opcit Says:

Also the warmest year on record. Ten of the last twelve years have been. And I believe five continents have had their warmest recorded year in the last two or three. We've seen ice-free water to the North Pole. The oil, coal and shipping companies may say they are "skeptical" about global warming. But they are staking claims to mineral and navigation rights in the soon-to-be exploitable Arctic. Glacier National Park is - I'm quite serious - considering changing its name because the glaciers it's named after are almost gone.

Nope. Until last year, all through the last decade, the trend was actually very significant cooling. But the real point is - we had absolutely nothing to do with this. We are powerless to cause any warming or cooling. These fluctuations have been going on for thousands of years. 1500 years ago Europe was so much warmer than it is today. I hope it gets warmer.

9

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