Only Rare Cold Will Keep 2012 From Being Hottest Year

By Climate Central

With a month and a half to go before 2013 begins, it’s still technically possible that 2012 won’t end up as the warmest year on record for the continental U.S. It’s possible, but it’s not likely and won’t be easy.

The graphic below shows just how cold the next six weeks would have to be to keep 2012 out of the record books.

Click on image to enlarge.

The graphic, based on data from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, shows that 1998 (white line) was the warmest year on record for the continental U.S. (each triangle marks the average temperature to date for a given month, so the October triangle, for example, represents the year’s average through October).

So far 2012 (red line) is way above the 1998 average. If temperatures stay well above normal for the rest of the year (orange line), we’ll beat 1998 easily. If temperatures are about normal, we’ll still set a record.

Only if temperatures plunge to well below normal for November and December would we have a shot at sneaking in under the 1998 average. 

Is it possible? Definitely. But with every passing day, it’s looking less and less likely.

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