It is official: This year’s spring was the warmest on record and this May was the second warmest, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center. NOAA scientists found that the average temperature — 64.3 degrees F – for the contiguous US during May was 3.3 degrees higher than the long-term average. All told, the data reveal that, so far, 2012 has been the warmest year-to-date since recordkeeping began in 1895.
In addition, while rainfall totals varied across the nation in May, the US was drier than average as a whole. The nationally averaged precipitation total was 2.51 inches, which is 0.36 inches below average and 37.4 percent of the contiguous US is experiencing drought conditions. The Southwest in particular has been stricken by drought, alleviated somewhat by Storm Beryl, which made landfall near Jacksonville, Fla., on May 28.
A few more facts about how much hotter it is getting:
Overall, 26 states had May temperatures ranking among their ten warmest. Only the Northwest did not see warmer-than-average temperatures; only Oregon and Washington had temperatures that were normal.
31 states experienced record warmth for the season.
The drought and windy created ideal wildfire conditions in the Southwest. Over 210,000 acres of the Gila National Forest in western New Mexico are already charred.
However, some states experienced wetter-than-average temperatures: Oregon experienced record wet and Minnesota and Washington had the third wettest seasons on record.
The June 2011-May 2012 period has been the warmest twelve-month period for any twelve-month period in the contiguous US. In that period, the second warmest summer has occurred as well as the fourth warmest winter and, yes, the warmest spring on record.
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Photo of wildfire in Gila National Forest on June 6, 2012, by Gila Forest
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