Top U.S. climate events for 2012

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Here are the top U.S. climate events for 2012, as ranked by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

Hurricane Sandy: The huge storm made landfall near Atlantic City, N.J., on Oct. 29 with sustained winds of 80 mph and a central minimum pressure of 946 millibars, the lowest pressure on record along the Northeast coast. Sandy's large size and track brought record storm surge to many locations throughout the Northeast.

2. Drought in contiguous U.S.: The extent of drought in July was comparable to the drought of the 1950s; intensity of dryness in various states combined with intensity of heat resulted in record or near-record evaporation rates. Major impact on corn, soybean and wheat belts in addition to livestock production. Drought upstream of the Lower Mississippi River caused near-record low stream flows along the river in Mississippi and Louisiana, resulting in limited river transportation/commerce.

3. Warmest year on record: March temperatures were the second largest warm departure from average of any month, and July was the warmest month of any month in more than 1,400 months on record.

4. Record wildfire activity: Some of the largest fires occurred in New Mexico (largest in state history), Colorado (most destructive and second largest in state history) and in Oregon (largest since the 1860s).

5. Multistate derecho: A line of strong storms produced dangerously strong winds (derecho) along a path from the Great Lakes to the East Coast. Power along the Middle Atlantic and Northeast was cut to 250,000 customers for several days due to downed trees.

6. March 2-3 severe weather: 154 tornadoes occurred during March. The March 2-3 outbreak across the Ohio Valley and Southeast caused 41 fatalities in addition to significant damage. The worst of the tornado activity occurred in southern Indiana and Ohio and northern Kentucky.

7. Alaska's cold winter: Several Alaskan locations had their coldest January on record. Record snow (134.5 inches) fell in Anchorage during the winter season, breaking the previous record set in 1954-55.

8. Near record-low levels on Great Lakes: Record high temperatures throughout 2012 combined with low precipitation created high evaporation rates across the Great Lakes. Lakes Michigan and Huron are within inches of the all-time record low lake levels set back in 1964.

9. Lack of snow: Winter and spring snow cover was the third smallest on record for both seasons. Snowpack in the southern and central Rockies and Sierra Nevada was below average.

10. Hurricane Isaac: The storm made landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River on Aug. 28 as a Category 1 hurricane. Isaac's large size and slow motion caused a storm surge of 10 feet and brought torrential rainfall. Isaac also provided some drought relief to the Lower Mississippi and Ohio valleys. More than 20 inches of rainfall was observed in New Orleans.

Top U.S. climate events for 2012 01/08/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 8, 2013 10:24pm]

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