NOAA announced on Tuesday that 2012 was officially the warmest year on record in the contiguous 48 states, based on 118 years of temperature records dating back to 1895.
Last year was the hottest on record for the contiguous United States, shattering the previous mark set in 1998 by a wide margin, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced.
The average temperature was 55.3 degrees, 1 degree above the previous record and 3.2 degrees more than the 20th-century average. Temperatures were above normal in every month between June 2011 and September 2012, a 16-month stretch that hasn’t occurred since the government began keeping such records in 1895.
The year consisted of the fourth-warmest winter, the warmest spring, second-warmest summer, and a warmer-than-average fall. With an average temperature that was 3.6°F above average, July became the hottest month ever recorded in the contiguous U.S.
Alaska and the Pacific Northwest didn’t experience record-setting heat last year; a cool-weather pattern over the Pacific Ocean kept temperatures lower.
Globally, the past 36 years have been warmer than the 20th century average and each of the past 5 decades has been warmer than the last.
NOAA also announced this month that 2012 was the second most expensive year on record for U.S. weather disasters that cost more than $1 billion.
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