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2012: Warmest Year on Record in the Nation's Capital

9:02 PM, Jan 10, 2013   |    comments
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Washington, DC (WUSA) - Many Washingtonians will remember 2012 as continuing the recent trend of being warmer than average. 

In fact, eleven of the past twelve months saw above average temperatures - making it the warmest year on record in the Nation's Capital. 2012 also set several other weather records, including the one of the earliest ever blooms of the Cherry Blossoms on the Tidal Basin and the longest stretch of days of 95 degree or hotter weather on record at National Airport.

These developments made 2012 both a record setting and destructive year for those living in the Mid-Atlantic Region. 2012 began relatively quietly with only 2" of snow combined for January, February and March. That's less than 20% of the average seasonal snowfall for the Nation's Capital during the winter months according to the National Weather Service.

The absence of snow cover combined with warmer than normal temperatures had two significant effects. There was more pollen than normal, causing people to suffer allergy symptoms much earlier. The monthly average temperature - combining daytime highs and nighttime lows - for March was also ten degrees above normal. That led the world famous cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin to bloom almost a month early in Mid-March.

This trend of extremely warm weather would continue through the spring months and into the summer. The most significant heat wave of the summer occurred from June 28 through July 8, when there were eleven consecutive days with temperatures at least 95 degrees at National Airport. Of those eleven days, five days saw triple digit heat. The warmest June day ever observed in the Nation's Capital was on June 28, when the temperature soared to 104 degrees.

However, most residents will remember that date not for the record heat, but for the long lasting severe thunderstorm complex known as a "Derecho" that caused major damage across the region. This derecho knocked out power from the Ohio Valley to the East Coast, creating major hardships as millions went without lights and air conditioning during a brutal heat wave.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently reported that 2012 was the warmest year on record for the entire United States.

NOAA scientists said the extended warm weather during 2012 had no single cause but was the result of a variety of global environmental patterns.  In addition, much of the country continues to languish under drought conditions, according to the latest Drought Monitor Index due to record heat combined with below normal precipitation.  The United States covers roughly 2% of the Earth's surface.  It's also important to note that reliable weather records only go back to the late 1800s.

Does a warmer than normal 2012 tell us anything about the current winter season or outlook for 2013 as a whole? Not really because meteorologists look for large scale weather patterns - such as El Nino or La Nina - to help determine seasonal forecasts. In the meantime, meteorologists at 9 News will keep you updated on the latest weather forecasts, both on-air and online at wusa9.com.

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