2012 on track to be hottest year on record

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Meteorologist Trent Okerson

Barring an unprecedented cold snap, climate data shows that 2012 will go down in the history books as the hottest on record.  Locally, the months of March and July both set records for the hottest on record, and on June 29, we tied the all time record high of 108 degrees F.  This year's local average temperatures (average of each day's high and low) through the middle of last month are significantly warmer than years past.

In Paducah, the average temperature stood at 63.2 F, well above the previous record of 62.4 Ffor that same period in 2007.  In Cape Girardeau, the 2012 average temperature of 62.8 F was hotter that the 62.1 F back in 1986.  In Evansville, the average of 63.2 F was hotter than the average of 62.8 F in 1938.

For the lower 48, the first 11 months of the year are the warmest since records began in 1895, with the average national temperatures through November at 57.1 F.  Until now, 1998 held the record for hottest year ever, with an average temperature of 54.3 F.  Climate scientists say that there is a 99.7% chance that 2012 will indeed break that record.  Only an record-shattering cold snap this month would prevent the record from falling.

Jake Crouch from the National Climatic Data Center commented on the setup for the record warmth, "The warm winter (last year) and spring were associated with an usually northern track of the jet stream, which kept cold Arctic air out of the contiguous United States.  The early start to spring was a precursor to the summer drought.  The large size of the summer drought was associated with a large area of the country experiencing a very hot summer.  Those conditions continued into much of the fall season."

Globally, the U.N. World Meteorological Organization says that 2012 will likely rank in the top 10 hottest years on record.

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