2012: warmest and 2nd most extreme year in U.S. history

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 9:01 PM GMT on January 08, 2013

Share this Blog
42
+

The contiguous U.S. smashed its record for hottest year on record in 2012, according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). The annual U.S. average temperature was 3.3°F above the 20th century average, and was an astonishing 1.0°F above the previous record, set in 1998. It is extremely rare for an area the size of the U.S. to break an annual average temperature record by such a large margin. Nineteen states, stretching from Utah to Massachusetts, had annual temperatures which were record warm. An additional 26 states had a top-ten warmest year. Only Georgia (11th warmest year), Oregon (12th warmest), and Washington (30th warmest) had annual temperatures that were not among the ten warmest in their respective period of records. As wunderground's weather historian Christopher C. Burt reported, of the approximately 5,500 U.S. stations in the NCDC database, 362 recorded their all-time highest temperature during 2012, and none recorded an all-time coldest temperature. This was the most since the infamous Dust Bowl summer of 1936. Approximately 7% of the contiguous U.S. experienced an all-time hottest day during 2012, and every state in the contiguous U.S. except Washington had at least one location experience its warmest year on record. One notable warmest year record occurred in Central Park, in New York City, which has a period of record dating back 136 years.

The 2012 weather was also very dry, and the year ranked as the 15th driest year on record for the contiguous U.S. Wyoming and Nebraska had their driest year on record, and eight other states had top-ten driest years. The area of the contiguous U.S. experiencing moderate-to-exceptional drought peaked at 61.8% during July. This was the largest monthly drought footprint since the Dust Bowl year of 1939.


Figure 1. Historical temperature ranking for U.S. states in 2012. Nineteen states had their warmest year on record, and an additional 26 were top-ten warm. Image credit: National Climatic Data Center (NCDC).


Figure 2. Temperatures for the contiguous U.S. in 2012, compared to the previous record warmest and coldest years in U.S. history. The annual U.S. average temperature was 3.3°F above the 20th century average, and was an astonishing 1.0°F above the previous record, set in 1998. It is extremely rare for an area the size of the U.S. to break an annual average temperature record by such a large margin. Image credit: NOAA/NCDC.

Second most extreme year on record
The year 2012 was the second most extreme on record in the contiguous U.S., according to NOAA's U.S. Climate Extremes Index (CEI), which tracks the percentage area of the contiguous U.S. experiencing top-10% and bottom-10% extremes in temperature, precipitation, and drought, plus winds from landfalling tropical storms and hurricanes. The CEI was 39% in 2012, approximately double the average of 20%. The only year that was more extreme since CEI record keeping began in 1910 was 1998--the United States' previous warmest year on record. Since Hurricane Sandy was not considered a hurricane when it came ashore, that storm did not contribute to the 2012 CEI. If one plots up the CEI without using the tropical storm and hurricane indicator, 2012 is the most extreme year on record, beating out 1998, 46% to 42%. During 2012, a record 87% of the contiguous U.S. had maximum temperatures that were in the warmest 10% historically, crushing the previous record of 62% set in 1934; 74% of the U.S. of the U.S. had warm minimum temperatures in the top 10% in 2012 (2nd highest on record.) The percentage area of the U.S. experiencing top-10% drought conditions was 34%, which was the 4th greatest since 1910. Only droughts in the Dust Bowl year of 1934, and during 1954 and 1956, were more extreme, averaged over the entire year. Heavy 1-day downpours were near average in 2012, though, with 9% of nation experiencing a top-10% extreme, compared to the average of 10%.


Figure 3. NOAA's U.S. Climate Extremes Index (CEI) pegged 2012 as the second most extreme year on record, with 39% of the contiguous U.S. experiencing top-10% extreme weather. This is approximately double the average of 20% (heavy black line.)

Jeff Masters

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 403 - 353

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13Blog Index

Quoting BahaHurican:
Certain fish are actually better fished at night... like muttonfish...


We only fish at night, Baha. We target the Yellowtail Snapper. We have certain banks that we fish and only at night. If we did it during the day then our bait would attract the fish that we don't want. We usually leave about 5:30 in the evening and aren't usually back on island until about 3:00 in the morning.

Yellowtail are also too skittish to catch during the day. Even a cloud will scare them away.

Lindy
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting VirginIslandsVisitor:


I really hope so! Being handliners, my other half and I, can be either a good thing or a bad one. And this time of year just about kills us. I don't know but I somehow feel that this year just seems especially bad with the "Christmas winds". They seemed to start early this year and just haven't let up.

You know, we've had nights where it's been so calm that we can hear the music from Culebra.

Lindy



Wow, that is very interesting that you can hear things from Culebra. On another note,let's see how the 2013 hurricane season is going to behave in terms of having direct hits to the NE Caribbean.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CybrTeddy:



Where did you get the picture of Grothar????
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting indianrivguy:


Its a wonderful tool. I occasionally visit the Florida Sportsman website, and they have a hunting forum that is chock full of trail camera shots.. totally awesome.

In filming wildlife.. My Indian Riverkeeper office is on the third floor of the ORCA building. Dr Edith Widder, the leader of that organization, is a world famous oceanographer.. and a very nice lady. She is an authority on bioluminescence and created a fake jellyfish to draw in the elusive "giant squid" Welllll, on Jan. 27th, the Discovery channel will have a special on that subject.. they found some, and filmed them for the first time with a deep sea camera developed by ORCA. The submersibles they used are built right here in Florida at Trident Submarines in Vero Beach. I actually met some of the Japanese guys when they were here last October buying another 4 subs. The Japanese have like seven research subs, the United States has none. Total bummer there.... we used to lead that field. Here's the email I got from ORCA;

Hello Friends of ORCA!
The first footage of the Giant Squid (Architeuthis dux) in its natural habitat was filmed by ORCA’s deep sea camera, Medusa! Dr. Edie Widder was one of the three Scientists involved in the Discovery Channel expedition that captured the Giant Squid on film in its natural habitat for the first time in history. The electronic jellyfish (e-jelly) that she and ORCA engineers developed, attracted the Giant Squid and made it possible to get this special video footage. This e-jelly imitates certain bioluminescent displays, like that of deep-sea jellyfish.

Be sure to tune in to the Discovery Channel on January 27 at 8PM ET to see the program, Monster Squid: The Giant is Real. /email

Here's a link to a short video and some comments;
Pacific Standard


A screen grab from the team’s cameras of a vibrant giant squid in its natural habitat. (PHOTO: NHK/NEP/Discovery Channel)

Be there or be square!
No Calamari jokes please.......
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting VirginIslandsVisitor:


I really hope so! Being handliners, my other half and I, can be either a good thing or a bad one. And this time of year just about kills us. I don't know but I somehow feel that this year just seems especially bad with the "Christmas winds". They seemed to start early this year and just haven't let up.

You know, we've had nights where it's been so calm that we can hear the music from Culebra.

Lindy

Certain fish are actually better fished at night... like muttonfish...
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21592
398. txjac
Quoting BahaHurican:
LOL... the only thing on this list I really like is the bratwurst... and the good mustard... lol

Enjoy... my wet weather fave is peas soup and dumpling... mmmm....


Yummmm to the pea soup!
Member Since: April 24, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 2475
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


Agree 100% about the windy days we have been thru. In PR the winds have caused some power outages in scattered parts of the island. It looks like you may have good news as the winds are forecast to diminish by the weekend.


I really hope so! Being handliners, my other half and I, can be either a good thing or a bad one. And this time of year just about kills us. I don't know but I somehow feel that this year just seems especially bad with the "Christmas winds". They seemed to start early this year and just haven't let up.

You know, we've had nights where it's been so calm that we can hear the music from Culebra.

Lindy

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting txjac:
My celebratory rain dinner this evening

Sweet and sour red cabbage
Mashed potatoes
Bratwurst

Good mustard!

The German in me is coming out!
Cabbage can be a very vocal vegetable...Love the Brats
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting txjac:
My celebratory rain dinner this evening

Sweet and sour red cabbage
Mashed potatoes
Bratwurst

Good mustard!

The German in me is coming out!
LOL... the only thing on this list I really like is the bratwurst... and the good mustard... lol

Enjoy... my wet weather fave is peas soup and dumpling... mmmm....
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21592
Quoting VirginIslandsVisitor:


*sighs* Well, I don't know about you but these winds we are having over here are ridiculous. We haven't been able to get out fishing now for weeks. Hoping that they ease off a bit this weekend so we can get out for a night or two and fill some fishing orders!

Lindy


Agree 100% about the windy days we have been thru. In PR the winds have caused some power outages in scattered parts of the island. It looks like you may have good news as the winds are forecast to diminish by the weekend.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting indianrivguy:
First ever photo of a non collared Florida Panther carrying a kitten;



Here's the page it came from; Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge
Beautiful animal IRG... I was at the Palm Beach zoo just last weekend. They have 2 new young Florida panthers now. The one passed away last year from old age. They are fun to watch playing.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
392. txjac
My celebratory rain dinner this evening

Sweet and sour red cabbage
Mashed potatoes
Bratwurst

Good mustard!

The German in me is coming out!
Member Since: April 24, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 2475
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
142 days and counting until June 1rst.

Link


*sighs* Well, I don't know about you but these winds we are having over here are ridiculous. We haven't been able to get out fishing now for weeks. Hoping that they ease off a bit this weekend so we can get out for a night or two and fill some fishing orders!

Lindy
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
390. txjac
Happy to see so many areas getting some form of precipitation ...hopefully the Mississpi river area gets some too ...totally frightening. So many places need some wetness badly
Member Since: April 24, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 2475
WINTER STORM GRANDOLF !!!




I know Im late...just if others rain on me
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14871
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Winter Storm Gandolf has been named.






Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23627
Quoting washingtonian115:
Baha I'am good.The milder pattern has stared today unfortunately for the next several days into next week.
After we got a couple good blasts of cold last month, I kinda expected January to start off warmer than average... though the last 10 years or so January has really not gotten as cold as it used to.

I'm hoping we get a couple more weeks of cooler wx towards the end of the month... got a new sweater I want to wear to work... lol
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21592
142 days and counting until June 1rst.

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Impressive rainfall totals in a huge part of Texas today not everywhere but my 2.30 inches is one of the lighter amounts I have found for 24 hours. Quite a few places received more than 5 inches.
Member Since: July 5, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1348
Winter Storm Gandolf has been named.





Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31554
Quoting whitewabit:


Trail camera's are giving wildlife officials a much better understanding of what animals are in their areas .. and they are being surprised very often with the wide variety ..


Its a wonderful tool. I occasionally visit the Florida Sportsman website, and they have a hunting forum that is chock full of trail camera shots.. totally awesome.

In filming wildlife.. My Indian Riverkeeper office is on the third floor of the ORCA building. Dr Edith Widder, the leader of that organization, is a world famous oceanographer.. and a very nice lady. She is an authority on bioluminescence and created a fake jellyfish to draw in the elusive "giant squid" Welllll, on Jan. 27th, the Discovery channel will have a special on that subject.. they found some, and filmed them for the first time with a deep sea camera developed by ORCA. The submersibles they used are built right here in Florida at Trident Submarines in Vero Beach. I actually met some of the Japanese guys when they were here last October buying another 4 subs. The Japanese have like seven research subs, the United States has none. Total bummer there.... we used to lead that field. Here's the email I got from ORCA;

Hello Friends of ORCA!
The first footage of the Giant Squid (Architeuthis dux) in its natural habitat was filmed by ORCA’s deep sea camera, Medusa! Dr. Edie Widder was one of the three Scientists involved in the Discovery Channel expedition that captured the Giant Squid on film in its natural habitat for the first time in history. The electronic jellyfish (e-jelly) that she and ORCA engineers developed, attracted the Giant Squid and made it possible to get this special video footage. This e-jelly imitates certain bioluminescent displays, like that of deep-sea jellyfish.

Be sure to tune in to the Discovery Channel on January 27 at 8PM ET to see the program, Monster Squid: The Giant is Real. /email

Here's a link to a short video and some comments;
Pacific Standard


A screen grab from the team’s cameras of a vibrant giant squid in its natural habitat. (PHOTO: NHK/NEP/Discovery Channel)

Be there or be square!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting BahaHurican:
Wonder if that's pple assuming everybody from the big DC is somehow related to the least popular Congress since it was invented... lol....

How r u? I know u didn't get as much snow as u wanted... gotta admit even here temps have been... milder... than expected in January. Wonder if we'll get another cooldown before the end of the month. I don't think this system over TX / LA is going to bring one...
Baha I'am good.The milder pattern has stared today unfortunately for the next several days into next week.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Looks like the event is coming to an end very soon for me. So far, my running total is at 3.77 inches.



In the meantime, Lake Charles is about to be slammed!

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
378. etxwx
Alright! Now it's more like real East Texas rain here...good solid rain but not a gully washer with a few thunder rumbles too. (Cue the vibrating dogs...)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Houston

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
376. whitewabit (Mod)
Quoting indianrivguy:
First ever photo of a non collared Florida Panther carrying a kitten;



Here's the page it came from; Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge


Trail camera's are giving wildlife officials a much better understanding of what animals are in their areas .. and they are being surprised very often with the wide variety ..
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 361 Comments: 31276
Colder weather coming for TX late weekend into next week
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting washingtonian115:
I see people were highlighting yesterday night how warm the tropical Atlantic and gulf was this year.Inhad discussed this earlier but as usual people clear the blog when I'm on.
Wonder if that's pple assuming everybody from the big DC is somehow related to the least popular Congress since it was invented... lol....

How r u? I know u didn't get as much snow as u wanted... gotta admit even here temps have been... milder... than expected in January. Wonder if we'll get another cooldown before the end of the month. I don't think this system over TX / LA is going to bring one...
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21592
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting WDEmobmet:


Pretty crazy stuff going on in Australia

Family escapes Australian 'tornadoes of fire' by clinging to jetty for 3 hours


Yikes - that had to be scary as all heck. Glad they survived the ordeal.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 37064
Quoting CybrTeddy:
Jeez, it got up to 85 degrees here in my area today in FL.
yeah..84 here by me right now..wow
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 37064
Jeez, it got up to 85 degrees here in my area today in FL.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23627
looks whats behind all that rain..Cold coming Texas...
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 37064
367. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Disturbance Summary
3:00 AM JST January 10 2013
================================

SUBJECT: Tropical Depression In Sea East of Mindanao

At 18:00 PM UTC, Tropical Depression (1002 hPa) located at 3.0N 129.0E has 10 minute sustained winds of 30 knots. This depression is reported as moving north slowly.

System #2
-----------

At 18:00 PM UTC, Tropical Depression, Former Sonamu (1006 hPa) located at 3.0N 111.0E has 10 minute sustained winds of 25 knots. The depression is reported as almost stationary.
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 50 Comments: 44880
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Kristy and Paul tcrs are out
Link
Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Looks like a potent typhoon "Narelle" building off W. Australia which is also experiencing 'catastrophic' fires which are utterly uncontrollable, as per admissions of local fire chiefs.
There is more to come
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20963810
The Australian weather service added two new colours to iso charts to indicate temperatures above 50 centigrade (122 F)http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20955249
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 1900hurricane:
South and central Texas appear to be beginning to dry slot.





That dry air is being pulled into the system rapidly. Rain will end for SE Texas fairly quickly as the dry air pours in behind it.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting WDEmobmet:


Pretty crazy stuff going on in Australia

Family escapes Australian 'tornadoes of fire' by clinging to jetty for 3 hours

oh my :O
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Link

Australia is feeling the unprecedented extreme heat, too.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
the system hitting the GOM reminds me of Issac leftovers where it flooded east coast of Florida and some of SC/NC..

Issac


01/09/13
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting DoctorDave1:


If there is no objective optimal target for the Earth's temperature, efforts to adjust the temperature have no rational basis.
Actually that's not true. The goal isn't to get our global temperature to a optimal temperature per say. The real goal is to negate the warming we believe to have caused.

While there isn't any truly "optimal" temperature, there is no doubt that changing temperatures changes the environment. When we change the environment species are forced to adapt, and when that happens we see extinctions. So it is in our best interest to keep global temperatures as stable as possible.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
First ever photo of a non collared Florida Panther carrying a kitten;



Here's the page it came from; Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
357. VR46L
Quoting RitaEvac:


Hopefully there will be a dent in that map next month
Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6842
* at 127 PM CST... Doppler radar indicated thunderstorms producing
heavy rain across the warned area. An automated gage reported
1.20" of rain fell in fifteen minutes in Jamaica Beach
. Flash
flooding is expected to begin shortly.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting RitaEvac:


We'll take every 5" of rain any day here


No problem, with the present pattern in place and little sign of change in short-term / medium range, you'll get plenty more opportunity... unfortunately so will I.

Good it's helping replenish, put somewhat dent in TX drought, etc, but we really need these rains in Spring! LOL, by time we get there, the dang southern latitude ridging set-up might relocate on top of us (or sprawling / extending up from Mexico), as frequently does... feast / famine...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:


Pretty crazy stuff going on in Australia

Family escapes Australian 'tornadoes of fire' by clinging to jetty for 3 hours
Member Since: February 3, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 749
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 403 - 353

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.