2012 was the second most extreme year on record for the contiguous U.S.2012 was a historic year for extreme weather that included drought, wildfires, hurricanes and storms; however, tornado activity was below average.
The U.S. Climate Extremes Index indicated that 2012 was the second most extreme year on record for the nation. The index, which evaluates extremes in temperature and precipitation, as well as landfalling tropical cyclones, was nearly twice the average value and second only to 1998. To date, 2012 has seen 11 disasters that have reached the $1 billion threshold in losses, to include Sandy, Isaac, and tornado outbreaks experienced in the Great Plains, Texas and Southeast/Ohio Valley.
Annual ExtremesSeveral locations throughout the United States experienced temperature and precipitation extremes in 2012. Most striking was the number of locations across the country that broke their average annual temperature record. These records were primarily driven by extremely warm maximum day time temperatures or daily highs, especially during the spring and summer months. More than a dozen of these locations also experienced their driest year on record. In those areas, the combination of the extreme warm and dry period resulted in a drought comparable to the drought episodes of the 1950s.