2012: Warmest Year on Record, in Memphis and the U.S.

Apparently Memphis wasn’t the only hot spot in the good ole’ USA this year! A just-released report from the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), a division of NOAA, states that 2012 was the warmest year on record in the continental U.S.

In 2012, the contiguous United States (CONUS) average annual temperature of 55.3°F was 3.3°F above the 20th century average, and was the warmest year in the 1895-2012 period of record for the nation. The 2012 annual temperature was 1.0°F warmer than the previous record warm year of 1998. – NCDC, “State of the Climate”

NCDC goes on to say that preliminary records show 461 recording stations across the CONUS set high temperature records for the year, while 38 stations set a record for minimum precipitation in a year.  Twenty of these station set both records in 2012.

Nineteen states recorded their warmest average temperature on record (those marked “118” in the map below), while all but 3 (Georgia, Oregon, and Washington) of the contiguous states finished in the top 10 warmest for their state.

Nineteen states experienced their warmest year on record, while only 3 states did not crack their top 10 warmest.

Precipitation was also well below normal for much of the country, owing to the drought experienced by a broad swath of the nation that rivaled droughts of the 1950s.  From NCDC’s report:

Precipitation averaged across the CONUS in 2012 was 26.57 inches, which is 2.57 inches below the 20th century average. Precipitation totals in 2012 ranked as the 15th driest year on record.

Two states recorded their driest year ever, while a large part of the country experienced well below normal precipitation.

Weather and climate highlights for 2012 include the drought, record heat, wildfire activity, well below normal annual tornado count following an active spring, and two significant tropical (or post-tropical) landfalls in Isaac and Sandy. Below is a summary of the major events of 2012:

For the complete NCDC report containing a great deal of detail on events and records of 2012, read the State of the Climate report, or the Summary of the SOTC report.

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