2012 was warmest year on record for U.S., NOAA confirms

2012 was warmest year on record for U.S., NOAA confirms
Temperatures were well above normal across much of the nation's midsection in 2012, making it the warmest year on record for the contiguous U.S. (

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.

Read NOAA's full report here. Details in its analysis include:

  • Each of the 48 contiguous states had an above-average temperature for the year.
  • Each state except Washington had a location record its warmest year in 118 years.
  • 19 states, from Utah to Massachusetts, posted a record-warm year.
  • Since 1895, average temperatures have increased about 0.13 degrees each decade.
  • 2012 was the 15th-driest year on record.

Meanwhile, 2012 weather was notable for other reasons. The 19 named tropical cyclones meant a third straight year with an above-average Atlantic hurricane season.

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.

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