Today the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration finished their summary for the year of 2012
2012 was announced the WARMEST YEAR ON RECORD for the United States and second most extreme year !
The January- March period of 4-8 degrees above normal fr much of the country with many cities such as Chicago, New York , Philadelphia Boston , Cincinnati etc had one of the warmest winters on record, For Chicago it was the warmest for New York it was 2nd warmest and Philadelphia it was 4th warmest
Then spring came along , it started warm in March and then cooled down for us in the Northeast in April May and most of June with temperatures around Normal or just slightly above normal for our neck of the woods as a blocking regime set up , however to our west trouble was brewing, cold stratospheric temperatures lead to development of a HUGE heat ridge or “upper level ridge” over the southern Plains the spring months, roasting areas like Tennessee , Texas, Missouri Oklahoma and surrounding areas from late March/early April on
The heat ridge began to reach into the Northeast just in time for summer, in late June with a nasty heat wave that lasted on ad off through much of July , but the heat ridge remained stationary and thus hottest weather remained in the Midwest , Northern/Southern Plains and southeastern US , we were in between the heat ridge and a negative NAO so we had bouts of heat but also active thunderstorm season , it was still a record-breaking summer for our area in terms of heat but areas like Memphis and Nashville through Chicago and up into the Northern Plains had their hottest summer ever. These areas were also impacted by record-breaking drought
In late June the Mid west through Mid Atlantic were impacted by a deadly derecho, which is basically a cluster of severe thunderstorms and a huge but quick hitting windstorm , which affected from Ohio to southwest PA most of VA , Washington DC , Baltimore and even southern NJ
As for hurricane season, the season was above average but only 2 storm impacted the US directly , these 2 storms made for a historic season though , one was Issac which impacted the Gulf coast , from the Florida Panhandle to east Texas with Mississippi and Louisiana in the bullseye with effects similar to those of Katrina , of this huge Category 2 storm in late August , then we all know what the other one was, Hurricane Sandy which devastated the Northeast , specifically New Jersey , New York Delaware through CT on October 28th-30th but its effects were far-reaching as the storm became sub tropical and exploded in size with gusts of 80+ MPH all the way to Vermont with direct effects all up and down the east coast , even the far interior had tropical storm/hurricane like conditions . It fully developed in the Caribbean , moved north-west then north and then northeast, side swiping Florida and from there most storms that time of year go out to sea from there, but Sandy had different plans, as it hit very large block in the north atlantic between a deeply negative NAO and another tropical system , so the storm got forced to turn from heading northeast , to hearing Northwest right into the Northeastern US , made landfall near Atlantic City NJ , while officially it was no longer a hurricane the storm had strength of a strong category 2/ weak category 3 hurricane , the track pushed record storm surge and onslaught of hurricane force winds right into NJ , many locations had sustained winds 80+ mph with gusts over 90 mph! The Jersey shore (and most of NJ for that matter) along with New York coastline was devastated and changed forever . Hurricane Sandy was one that will be rememberd for ever, and was named a “superstorm” due to its loss of tropical characteristics.
Early November, a mere 9 days later a major nor’easter bought a major snow and wind event to the areas impacted by Sandy with 4-12 inches of windswept snow and November went to be one of the coldest and snowiest on record for New York , Philadelphia but areas to our west were very warm, especially the western US and Southwest US . The fall season ended around average for the northeast , above average in the middle and western parts of the country.
December however the pattern shifted, it became much warmer in the east and Midwest , and colder in the west with much of the east ending December 3-6 degrees above normal , although the month ended stormy, cold and snowy for those NW of the I95 corridor
An interesting stat is that NO record lows were broken but over 1000 record highs were broken
Below is the summary word for word
“2012 was warmest and second most extreme year on record for the contiguous U.S.
2012 was a historic year for extreme weather that included drought, wildfires, hurricanes and storms; however, tornado activity was below average
2012 marked the warmest year on record for the contiguous United States with the year consisting of a record warm spring, second warmest summer, fourth warmest winter and a warmer-than-average autumn. The average temperature for 2012 was 55.3°F, 3.2°F above the 20th century average, and 1.0°F above 1998, the previous warmest year.
The average precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. for 2012 was 26.57 inches, 2.57 inches below average, making it the 15th driest year on record for the nation. At its peak in July, the drought of 2012 engulfed 61 percent of the nation with the Mountain West, Great Plains, and Midwest experiencing the most intense drought conditions. The dry conditions proved ideal for wildfires in the West, charring 9.2 million acres — the third highest on record.
The U.S. Climate Extremes Index indicated that 2012 was the second most extreme year on record for the nation. The index, which evaluates extremes in temperature and precipitation, as well as landfalling tropical cyclones, was nearly twice the average value and second only to 1998. To date, 2012 has seen 11 disasters that have reached the $1 billion threshold in losses, to include Sandy, Isaac, and tornado outbreaks experienced in the Great Plains, Texas and Southeast/Ohio Valley.
Note: The Annual Climate Report for the United States has several pages of supplemental information and data regarding some of the exceptional events 2012.
Every state in the contiguous U.S. had an above-average annual temperature for 2012. Nineteen states had a record warm year and an additional 26 states had one of their 10 warmest.
- On the national scale, 2012 started off much warmer than average with the fourth warmest winter (December 2011-February 2012) on record. Winter warmth limited snow with many locations experiencing near-record low snowfall totals. The winter snow cover for the contiguous U.S. was the third smallest on record and snowpack totals across the Central and Southern Rockies were less than half of normal.
- Spring started off exceptionally warm with the warmest March on record, followed by the fourth warmest April and second warmest May. The season’s temperature was 5.2°F above average, making it easily the warmest spring on record, surpassing the previous record by 2.0°F. The warm spring resulted in an early start to the 2012 growing season in many places, which increased the loss of water from the soil earlier than what is typical. In combination with the lack of winter snow and residual dryness from 2011, the record warm spring laid the foundation for the widespread drought conditions in large areas of the U.S. during 2012.
- The above-average temperatures of spring continued into summer. The national-scale heat peaked in July with an average temperature of 76.9°F, 3.6°F above average, making it the hottest month ever observed for the contiguous United States. The eighth warmest June, record hottest July, and a warmer-than-average August resulted in a summer average temperature of 73.8°F, the second hottest summer on record by only hundredths of a degree. An estimated 99.1 million people experienced 10 or more days of summer temperatures greater than 100°F, nearly one-third of the nation’s population.
- Autumn and December temperatures were warmer than average, but not of the same magnitude as the three previous seasons. Autumn warmth in the western U.S. offset cooler temperatures in the eastern half of the country. Although the last four months of 2012 did not bring the same unusual warmth as the first 8 months of the year, the September through December temperatures were warm enough for 2012 to remain the record warmest year by a wide margin.
- The nationally-averaged precipitation total of 26.57 inches was 2.57 inches below average and the 15th driest year on record for the lower 48. This was also the driest year for the nation since 1988 when 25.25 inches of precipitation was observed.
2012 Precipitation ranks
Each season of 2012 had precipitation totals below the 20th century average:
- Winter brought below-average precipitation to both coasts and above-average precipitation to the Southern Plains, slightly lessening drought conditions that plagued the region in 2011. The winter precipitation total was 89 percent of normal.
- Spring precipitation was 95 percent of the 20th century average with below-average precipitation in the Rockies and Midwest and above-average precipitation in the Northwest and Upper Midwest.
- Summer precipitation was 88 percent of normal with dry conditions in the central United States. The West Coast, Gulf Coast, and Northeast were wetter than average.
- Autumn was drier than average for most of the central U.S., with wet conditions in the Northwest, Ohio Valley, and Northeast. The autumn precipitation total was 85 percent of average.
Alaska and Hawaii
- Alaska was cooler and slightly wetter than average during 2012. The year began very cold for the state with a January temperature 14.0°F below the 1971-2000 average. Each subsequent season was also cooler than average, resulting in an annual temperature 2.3°F below average. Much of 2012 was also wetter than average, and the annual precipitation total was 9.2 percent above average.
- Drought conditions continued to plague Hawaii during 2012. At the beginning of 2012, 47.4 percent of the state was experiencing moderate-to-exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. By the end of the year, the percent area experiencing moderate-to-exceptional drought expanded to 63.3 percent of the state.
Significant weather and climate events
- Tropical cyclone activity across the North Atlantic in 2012 as above-average with 19 named storms, ten hurricanes, and one major hurricane (Category 3 or stronger). This is the third consecutive North Atlantic tropical cyclone season with 19 named storms and ties with as the third most active season for the basin. Isaac and Sandy made landfall along the U.S. coast during 2012 causing significant impacts. Isaac brought large storm surge and torrential rains to the Gulf Coast. Sandy caused significant damage to the Northeast, with 8 million homes losing power and 131 fatalities reported.
- The widespread drought conditions of 2012 peaked in July with approximately 61 percent of the country experiencing drought conditions. The footprint of drought during 2012 roughly equaled the drought of the 1950s which peaked at approximately 60 percent. The size of the current drought and the drought of the 1950s are smaller than the drought episodes of the 1930s. The current drought has yet to reach the intensity or duration of the 1950s and 1930s national-scale droughts.
- Wildfire activity during 2012 was above-average with 9.2 million acres burned the third most in the 13-year record. Numerous large and destructive wildfires impacted the western U.S. throughout the year. The Waldo Canyon fire near Colorado Springs, Colorado destroyed nearly 350 homes and was the most destructive fire on record for the state. The Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire charred nearly 300,000 acres and was the largest on record for New Mexico.
- Tornado activity during 2012 was below the 1991-2010 average of approximately 1,200. The year got off to a busy start with large tornado outbreaks in March and April causing significant damage in the Ohio Valley and Central Plains. May and June, typically the most active tornado months of the year, both had less than half of average tornado counts. The final 2012 tornado count will likely be less than 1,000 — the least since 2002. “