2012 was the warmest year on record for U.S., second worst for extreme weather

By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, January 8, 2013 15:23 EDT
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An American flag hangs from tree limbs with other debris after a tornado touched down on February 29, 2012 in Harrisburg, Illinois. (AFP)
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2012 marked the warmest year on record for the United States and was also the second most extreme weather year yet recorded, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Tuesday.

The hot weather contributed to a record drought which, at its peak, parched 61 percent of the nation.

Those dry conditions helped spark massive wildfires which charred 9.2 million acres — the third highest on record, NOAA said.

The nation suffered through 11 weather disasters that caused $1 billion in damage, including hurricanes Sandy and Isaac and tornado outbreaks in the Great Plains, Texas and Ohio Valley.

Every one of the 48 states in the continental United States had an above-average annual temperature in 2012 and 19 of those broke records.

The average temperature for 2012 was 55.3 F (12.9 C) which is 3.2°F above the 20th century average, and 1.0°F above 1998, the previous warmest year.

The nationally-averaged precipitation total of 26.57 inches (67.5 centimeters) was 2.57 inches (6.5 centimeters) below average and the 15th driest year on record.

This was also the driest year for the nation since 1988, when 25.25 inches (64.1 centimeters) of precipitation were observed.

Meanwhile, 2012 was the third year in a row with 19 named tropical storms, 10 of which packed hurricane strength. One was a major hurricane.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
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