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Continued: Last year hottest yet in US since record keeping began in 1895; drought, mild winter factors

  • Article by: SETH BORENSTEIN , Associated Press
  • Last update: January 8, 2013 - 9:33 PM

What has scientists so stunned is how far above other hot years 2012 was. Nearly all of the previous 117 years of temperature records were bunched between 51 and 54 degrees, while 2012 was well above 55.

"A picture is emerging of a world with more extreme heat," said Andrew Dessler, a Texas A&M University climate scientist. "Not every year will be hot, but when heat waves do occur, the heat will be more extreme. People need to begin to prepare for that future."



National Climatic Data Center summary of US weather in 2012,

NCDC chart showing 2012 versus other years,


Seth Borenstein can be followed at

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  • In this Aug. 16, 2012 file photo, dust is carried by the wind behind a combine harvesting corn in a field near Coy, Ark. A brutal combination of a widespread drought and a mostly absent winter pushed the average annual U.S. temperature last year up to 55.32 degrees Fahrenheit, the government announced Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. Breaking temperature records by an entire degree is unprecedented, scientists say. Normally, records are broken by a tenth of a degree or so.

  • FILE - In this Friday, June 29, 2012 file photo, senior program manager Scott Walker points to a computer display showing power usage and availability in the Tennessee Valley Authority System Operations Center at TVA headquarters in Chattanooga, Tenn. A TVA official said the utility was equal to the air conditioning load. 2012 was 3.2 degrees warmer than the average for the entire 20th century. Last July was the also the hottest month on record. (AP Photo/Chattanooga Times Free Press, Doug Strickland) THE DAILY CITIZEN OUT; NOOGA.COM OUT

  • FILE - This NOAA satellite image taken Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012, provided by the National Hurricane Center shows Category 2 Hurricane Sandy moving northward across eastern Cuba. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. in 2012 had the second most weather extremes on record, behind 1998. There were 11 different disasters that caused more than $1 billion in damage, including Superstorm Sandy and the drought, NOAA said. (AP Photo/NOAA)

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