2012 Was A Year for the Record Books - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

2012 Was A Year for the Record Books

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Natural disasters cost billions of dollars around the world.

In the U.S. in 2012, Sandy was a big cost in the east. In the Midwest it's the drought. These new numbers coincide with a new, official look at just how hot the past year was.

2012 was a year of extreme weather, and one for the history books… it was hotter than any year on record.

This was the result, federal scientists say, of nature and man-made climate change.

"It is part of a long term warming trend and that is association with climate change. It's hard to pinpoint what role it has in 2012, but it did have a role."

Under normal conditions we should see one record high for every record low, but in the first decade of this century we saw 2 record highs for each record low.

In 2011, it was 3 to 1, and last year, 5 record highs for each low.

In 2012 much of the country sweltered.

"One in three Americans saw at least ten days when the daytime temperatures passed 100 degrees. That's a lot of heat."

All that heat plus a lack of rain and snowfall created a historic drought that still grips well over half of the country today, making the Mississippi River less than mighty, so shallow in places barge traffic could come to halt. And there's little relief in sight...

"I think that were looking at some very risky situations for the middle of the country for the coming year and we don't really know what the precipitation will be but the persistence of the drought so far is a real concern."

Extreme weather caused extreme hardship. There were 11 disasters topping one billion dollars in losses.

Homes, livelihoods and lives were lost; 125 people killed in Superstorm Sandy alone.

And it's not just the U.S. This week, triple digit temperatures fuel catastrophic wildfires across south east Australia.

Back in the U.S., the city of Chicago normally snow covered in January. Today tied the record for the most days without at least an inch of snow: 319.

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