WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- The year of 2012 marked the warmest year on record in the contiguous United States and also the second most extreme year on record for the country, according to U.S. federal data released Tuesday.
Scientists of the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) found that the year of 2012 in the U.S. 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 eight 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 temperature for the contiguous U.S. for 2012 was about 12.9 degrees Celsius, which is almost 0.6 degrees above the previous record set in 1998 and nearly 1.8 degrees above the 20th century average, according to the records dated back to 1895.
The average precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. last year was 674.9 mm, 65.3 mm below average, making 2012 the 15th driest year on record for the country.
The NOAA's U.S. Climate Extremes Index also indicated that last year was the second most extreme year on record for the country. The index, which evaluated extremes in temperature and precipitation, as well as landfalling tropical cyclones, was nearly twice the average value and second only to 1998.
The federal agency said last year saw 11 natural disasters that created at least 1 billion dollars in damage, including droughts, heatwaves, major wildfires, and hurricanes Sandy and Isaac.