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News : US Economy Last Updated: Jan 9, 2013 - 6:36 AM


Year 2012 warmest on record for contiguous US; Monday "hottest day on record" in Australia
By Finfacts Team
Jan 9, 2013 - 6:32 AM

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The year 2012 was the warmest on record for the contiguous United States (ex Alaska and Hawaii), overtaking the previous record by a full degree in Fahrenheit temperature, a US government climate agency said on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Monday was called the "hottest day on record" after the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) calculated a national average high temperature of 40.33 degrees C (104.6 degrees F), the Australian ABC News website said.

The single average Australian temperature was compiled from between 700 and 800 daily readings spread across the country, the BoM's Dr. Donald Jones said. The former record high, set in 1972, was part of a comprehensive Australian weather record that dates back to the start of 1911.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the average temperature in 2012 in the contiguous United States was 55.3 degrees Fahrenheit (12.94 degrees Celsius), 3.2 degrees above the average recorded during the 20th century and 1.0 degree above 1998.

The year consisted of the fourth warmest winter, a record warm spring, the second warmest summer, and a warmer-than-average autumn. 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 average precipitation total for the contiguous US for 2012 was 26.57 inches, 2.57 inches below average, and the 15th driest year on record for the nation.

NOAA said the US 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.

The New York Times says if the record does not sound sufficiently impressive, consider that 34,008 daily high records were set at weather stations across the country, compared with only 6,664 record lows, according to a count maintained by the Weather Channel meteorologist Guy Walton, using federal temperature records.

That ratio, which was roughly in balance as recently as the 1970s, has been out of whack for decades as the country has warmed, but never by as much as it was last year.

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