While you couldn’t be blamed for believing that 2012’s extreme weather was a precursor to the Mayan apocalypse, in fact it was just hot outside.
According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration figures released today, 2012 was the warmest year ever recorded (with the warmest ever spring) in the contiguous United States.
The average temperature was 55.3 degrees Fahrenheit, or 3.2 degrees above the 20th century average, and 1.0 degree above 1998, the previous warmest year.
It’s “clearly symptomatic of a changing climate,” NOAA’s Thomas R. Karl told The Washington Post.
“That doesn’t mean every season and every year is going to be breaking all-time records, but you’re going to see this with increasing frequency.”
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Every state on the continent had an above-average annual temperature while 19 had a record warm year and another 26 experienced one of their 10 warmest ever, the NOAA said.
There were more than 34,000 new record-high temperatures reported this year at weather stations across the country, The New York Times reported, citing figures from The Weather Channel.
That compares to 6,664 record lows, The Times said.
“The heat was remarkable. It was prolonged,” National Climatic Data Center scientist Jake Crouch told the newspaper. “That we beat the record by one degree is quite a big deal.”
Record keeping dates back to 1895, USA Today reported, and today’s figures show it was also the driest year in the US since 1988.
USA Today also noted that the 11 weather-related disasters last year each caused more than $1 billion in damages.
Those included superstorm Sandy, the Midwest corn-belt drought, Hurricane Isaac, wildfires in Colorado and tornados from the Ohio Valley to Texas.
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