With only 2 weeks left to go in 2012, it's only fitting to take a look back at the year in review. And for weather, what a year it was!
According to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, January to November of 2012 is the warmest 11 month-period ever to be recorded for the lower 48 states. As of November's close, the average temperature is 57.1°F, which is 3.3°F warmer than the national average. At this high of a national average, December temperatures across the U.S. would need to be colder than the coldest December on record (December of 1983) for 2012 not to rank as #1 warmest calendar year.
Currently, the warmest year for the U.S. is 1988, which ended with a nationally averaged temperature of 54.3°F.
But all that glitters isn't gold: While many have been enjoying the unseasonably mild conditions, it hasn't been without consequence. All of this warmth has also been accompanied by dryness. (This November was the 8th driest on record.) This combination of above-average temperatures and precipitation-free days continues to postpone winter storms--a main source of moisture during the late fall and winter months.
From October to November, the U.S. Drought Monitor reports that the area of the U.S. experiencing moderate-to-extreme drought rose from 60.2% to 62.7%.