Wednesday, January 9, 2013

It's official: 2012 hottest year on record

You've probably read news reports yesterday and today stating that 2012 was the hottest year on record in the contiguous United States. You can find NOAA's original release here. Here's part of the discussion:
The above-average temperatures of spring continued into summer. The national-scale heat peaked in July with an average temperature of 76.9°F, 3.6°F above average, making it the hottest month ever observed for the contiguous United States. The eighth warmest June, record hottest July, and a warmer-than-average August resulted in a summer average temperature of 73.8°F, the second hottest summer on record by only hundredths of a degree. An estimated 99.1 million people experienced 10 or more days of summer temperatures greater than 100°F, nearly one-third of the nation’s population.
 Just how hot was it?  Climate Central has developed an interactive graphic showing the changing temperature in each state. The screen shot shows a graph of Iowa's increasing temperatures over the years since records have begun (yes, I know the graph should start at 0 (or 32, since we're talking about temperatures measured in Fahrenheit, but I'm letting it go in this case).
 
2012 was also the second-most tempestuous year. According to NOAA:
The U.S. Climate Extremes Index indicated that 2012 was the second most extreme year on record for the nation. The index, which evaluates extremes in temperature and precipitation, as well as landfalling tropical cyclones, was nearly twice the average value and second only to 1998. To date, 2012 has seen 11 disasters that have reached the $1 billion threshold in losses, to include Sandy, Isaac, and tornado outbreaks experienced in the Great Plains, Texas and Southeast/Ohio Valley.

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