Could 2012 be hottest on record for the contiguous U.S.?

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The preliminary data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are in, and the results confirm what most Americans already suspected – 2012 has so far been the warmest of any year on record for the contiguous United States.

National temperatures in from January to September averaged 59.8 degrees Fahrenheit, 3.8 degrees above the 20th century average.

Record temperatures have also been set at state-levels.

“During the nine-month period, 46 states had temperatures among their ten warmest, with 25 states being record warm. Only Washington had statewide temperatures near average for the period,” NOAA reported in its latest State of the Climate report.

click image to zoomNOAA temperatures At the current pace, this year will likely be the hottest ever for the continental portions of the country. See the graph to the right for a look as possible outcomes.

The first nine months of 2012 was also the 11th driest period on record for the lower 48 states with precipitation totaling 1.98 inches below the average of 22.67 inches.  For September, record and near-record dry conditions were experienced through the western states and into the Plains and Midwest.

A few preliminary monthly climate extremes include

Location

Record Type

Value

Previous Record Date

Rapid City, South Dakota

All-time high minimum temperature record for the month

76 degrees F on Sept. 1

73 degrees F on Sept. 7, 1931

Valentine, Nebraska

All-time high minimum temperature record for the month (tied)

73 degrees F on Sept. 2

73 degrees F on Sept. 3 1897 and Sept. 6, 1939

Billings, Montana

Driest September on record

Trace

0.06 of an inch in September 1964

Sheridan, Wyoming

Driest September on record (tied)

Trace

Trace in September 1930

Aberdeen, South Dakota

Driest September on record

0.01 of an inch

0.05 of an inch in September 1979

Mobridge, South Dakota

Driest September on record

0.05 of an inch

0.06 of an inch in September 1969

Pierre, South Dakota

Driest September on record (tied)

Trace

Trace in September 1893

Read more from NOAA here.

Globally, September temperatures tied with 2005 as the warmest September since 1880, when record-keeping began. Temperatures were 1.21 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average of 59.0 degrees.

NOAA’s Global Analysis of the State of the Climate report showed that the U.S. wasn’t the only country to suffer from the wrath of drought. Several countries in eastern Europe, including Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Poland, experienced drought during September; it was one of worst droughts for Hungary in two decades.

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