A record-warm spring, second-warmest summer, fourth-warmest winter and above-normal fall made 2012 the warmest year on record for the contiguous states, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
It was a foregone conclusion well before the end of the year, with temperatures running above normal throughout the year. The official average temperature across the country was 55.3 degrees, 1 degree above 1998, the previous record-holder, and 3.2 degrees above the 20th Century average, NOAA said Tuesday.
For Maryland, the average temperature was the second-warmest in 118 years of record-keeping, behind only 1998, according to NOAA.
A widespread drought affected 61 percent of the country at its peak in July, equaling the footprint of drought in the 1950s. The warm and dry conditions contributed to above-average wildfire activity, with 9.2 million acres burned, third-most in 13 years of record-keeping.
Tornado activity, however, was abnormally low. The final 2012 tornado count is expected to be under 1,000, while the average from 1991-2010 is 1,200 per year.