America's hottest year ever: By the numbers

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Wildfires, including this one in Glendora, Calif., burned 9.2 million acres in 2012.
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Wildfires, including this one in Glendora, Calif., burned 9.2 million acres in 2012.

2012 was a record-melting sizzler

You weren't imagining it: 2012 was a scorcher — and the hottest year on record in the continental United States, according to official numbers released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Here's a numerical look at the record-setting year: 

55.3
Average temperature, in degrees Fahrenheit, across the continental U.S. in 2012. That's a full degree Fahrenheit higher than the previous record set in 1998, and is 3.3 degrees above the 20th century average.  

34,008
Daily high records set at weather stations across the country in 2012

100 
Percent of the 10 warmest years on record that have occurred over the last 15 years 

1985
The last time the monthly global temperature fell below the 20th century average. (It happened in February 1985.) That means no one under 28 has ever experienced a cooler-than-usual month.

16
Months in a row — from June 2011 to September 2012 — that average U.S. temperatures were above their normal monthly averages. (So June 2011 was hotter than your typical June, July 2011 was hotter than your typical July, and so forth.) That hasn't occurred since the government began keeping records in 1895.

7
Percentage of the U.S. that experienced an all-time hottest day ever last year

61 
Percentage of the nation plagued by drought in 2012, which obliterated corn and soybean crops and sent prices sky high

9.2 million
Acres that burned due to wildfire in 2012

228 
Days of the year with higher-than-normal temperatures in New York

247
Days of the year with higher-than-normal temperatures in Washington, D.C.

245
Days of the year with higher-than-normal temperatures in Chicago

221
Days of the year with higher-than-normal temperatures in Houston

187
Days of the year with higher-than-normal temperatures in Los Angeles

Sources: New York Times (2),NOAA, Scientific American, Washington Post, WUnderground

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