This number exceeds the average recorded during the 20th century on 3.2 degrees and 1.0 degree above 1998, that was considered to be the hottest on record until now. The contiguous United States excludes Alaska and Hawaii.
The agency also confirmed what many farmers residents of the western part of the country already knew: 2012 was drier than average, Reuters informs.
The past year was 15th driest one on record, NOAA said. The peak of the heat was recorded in July, 61 percent of the country was in drought, including the nation’s breadbasket of the Midwest, as well as the Southwest and Mountain West, where wildfires destroyed more than 9.2 million acres.
“The U.S. Climate Extremes Index, which tracks volatility in temperature and precipitation as well as the number of tropical cyclones making landfall, was twice as active as normal in 2012, the agency said. Only 1998 had more extreme weather”, NOAA reported.
As the agency claims, there were 11 weather-related disasters on the continent during the past year, with losses topping $1 billion, including destructive hurricanes Sandy and Isaac and a series of tornadoes in the Great Plains, Texas and the Ohio Valley.
Last year meteorologists reported that the first half of 2012 was announced to be the warmest period on record for the contiguous U.S.
The national average temperature reached 52.9 degrees — “4.5 degrees above the long-term average,” NOAA said in a statement in July.
“Most of the contiguous U.S. was record and near-record warm for the six-month period, except the Pacific Northwest.” East of the Rockies, 28 states were “record warm,” NOAA said.
By the way, a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change claimed that “climate change has led to changes in climate extremes such as heat waves, record high temperatures and, in many regions, heavy precipitation in the past half-century.”
NOAA also revealed that there were fewer-than-average tornadoes in 2012. Although the season got off to a busy start with large outbreaks in spring and there were fewer than half the normal number of tornados.
The final tornado count for 2012 was less than 1,000, NOAA said, the smallest number since 2002.
The agency went on, adding that about 99.1 million people – nearly one-third of the nation’s population – experienced 10 or more days during the incredibly hot summer when temperatures exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
While Hawaii and Alaska were outside the area where the highest levels of temperature were recorded, NOAA reported that those two states had unusual weather of their own during the year.
Alaska was cooler and wetter than it used to be during 2012, the agency said. Meanwhile, In Hawaii, drought conditions spread during the past year, with 63.3 percent of the state experiencing drought by the end of 2012.