NOAA State of the Climate for 2012 – Hottest and Extreme Year on Record

With the close of the year these days we can generally expect to see any number of climate institutions across the planet report on just what the year gone provided us. 2012 is no different and according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 2012 was the warmest and second most extreme year on record for the contiguous US.

2012 Hottest Year on Record and Second Most Extreme


2012 Hottest Year on Record and Second Most Extreme

2012 included records such as the warmest spring, second warmest summer, fourth warmest winter and a warmer-than-average autumn, with an average temperature for the year as a whole of 55.3°F, 3.3°F above the 20th century average, and 1.0°F above 1998, the previous warmest year.

Every state in the lower 48 of the US had an above-average annual temperature for the year, with nineteen states seeing a record warm year, and another 26 states seeing one of their 10 warmest years on record.


2012 Hottest Year on Record and Second Most Extreme

2012 saw a total average of 26.57 inches of precipitation fall, 2.57 inches below average and the 15th driest year on record for the lower 48, and the driest year for the nation since 1988.

In fact, each season of 2012 had precipitation totals that came in under the 20th century average.

  • Winter brought below-average precipitation to both coasts and above-average precipitation to the Southern Plains, slightly lessening drought conditions that plagued the region in 2011. The winter precipitation total was 89 percent of normal.
  • Spring precipitation was 95 percent of the 20th century average with below-average precipitation in the Rockies and Midwest and above-average precipitation in the Northwest and Upper Midwest.
  • Summer precipitation was 88 percent of normal with dry conditions in the central United States. The West Coast, Gulf Coast, and Northeast were wetter than average.
  • Autumn was drier than average for most of the central U.S., with wet conditions in the Northwest, Ohio Valley, and Northeast. The autumn precipitation total was 85 percent of average.
Sure much of this isn’t a surprise – back in September we were already seeing that 2012 would be the hottest year on record, and in November things were similarly starting to heat up. It will be interesting to see how these records play into the overall climate change. 

Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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