29 states, shaded in red, had their record warmest January-May.
The U.S. continues to shatter previous, long-standing heat records, according to a report released Thursday.
In the May "State of the Climate" report, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found the first five months of 2012 were the warmest Jan-May period on record for the U.S. The year 2012 also yielded the record warmest spring (March - May) and second warmest May in records dating to 1895. We have more record-breaking details and perspective below.
May 2012: Second Warmest May on Record
Twenty six states had a May ranking among their top ten warmest on record.
Once again, a slew of monthly temperature records were broken at individual locations across the country. At least 137 locations tied or broke their record high for the month of May, with the greatest concentration in a zone from the Ozarks through the Ohio Valley and southern Great Lakes regions. Some locations tied or broke their previous May records three, four, or even five times this month!
Spring 2012: Warmest on Record
Not surprisingly, after the warmest March on record, the third-warmest April on record, and the second-warmest May on record, meteorological spring has finished well ahead of all others in the 118-year period of record. March-May 2012 topped the previous record warm spring, in 1910, by a full 2 degrees Fahrenheit.
For the contiguous 48 states, the average temperature for the three-month period from March 1 through May 31 was 57.1 degrees, or 5.2 degrees above the long-term average. NOAA said this was the largest departure from average for any season on record!
On a state-by-state basis, 31 states posted a record-warm spring, with another 11 states among their top ten warmest. Only 8 of the Lower 48 States, all in the West, did not have a top 3 warmest spring.
Only two states – Oregon and Washington – were in the "near normal" temperature category.
January - May 2012: Warmest on Record
The first five months of the year have been the warmest on record for the nation as a whole, as well as for 29 individual states, all east of the Rocky Mountains.
The warmth has been persistent; in addition to the three top-three finishes mentioned above, January was the fourth-warmest on record, and February ranked 17th out of 118 years.
An incredible 104 major cities have had their warmest start to the year on record, through the first 5 months, including Atlanta, Boston, New York City, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia and Tampa.
On the precipitation side, it was also the driest first five months of the year in Delaware, and the third driest such period in Connecticut.
Past 12 Months: Warmest on Record
The record for warmest 12-month period on record, established in March 2012 and broken again in April, was broken for the third month in a row in May. The average nationwide temperature of 56.0 degrees for June 2011 through May 2012 surpassed last month's record (for May 2011-April 2012) by 0.4 degrees.
This new record encompassed the second-warmest summer, fourth warmest winter, and warmest spring on record. According to NOAA, 47 of the 48 contiguous states were warmer than normal over the 12-month period, with Washington the lone exception.