The past year saw a mild winter give way to a balmier-than-normal spring, followed by a sweltering summer and high temperatures that lingered into the fall, all punctuated by extreme drought and intense storms.
Now 2012 is officially in the books as the hottest year on record for the continental United States and the second-worst for "extreme" weather such as hurricanes, droughts or floods, the U.S. government announced Tuesday.
The year's average temperature of 55.3 degrees Fahrenheit across the Lower 48 was more than 3.2 degrees warmer than the average for the 20th century, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration reported. That topped the previous record, set in 1998, by a full degree.
Every state in the contiguous United States saw above-average temperatures in 2012, with 19 of them setting annual records of their own, NOAA said. Meanwhile, the country faced 11 weather disasters that topped $1 billion in losses each, including a lingering drought that covered 61% of the country at one point.