"Unprecedented Territory": 2012 the Hottest Year Recorded in the U.S. So Far

The data is in, and the records keep breaking—you are now officially living through the hottest American winter/spring/summer ever put on the books. Mild winter, hot spring, devastating summer; this is climate change in Uncle Samland.

The US National Climatic Data Center has published its new data, and it shows that the first eight months of the year have been hotter than any other recorded across the contiguous United States.

Reuters interviewed one of the center's climate scientists, and he offered up the lowdown:

Each of the last 15 months has seen above-average temperatures, something that has never happened before in the 117 years of the U.S. record, said Jake Crouch, a climate scientist at the data center. Winter, spring and summer 2012 have all been among the top-five hottest for their respective seasons, Crouch said by telephone, and that too is unique in the U.S. record. There has never been a warmer September-through-August period than in 2011-2012, he said.

"We're now, in terms of statistics, in unprecedented territory for how long this warm spell has continued in the contiguous U.S.," Crouch said.

Good thing Americans love unprecedented territory, right? Because we're smack in it now, and this unprecedented territory brings with it uncomfortably hot temperatures, parching droughts, record-breaking wildfires, and lots of other unprecedented stuff, too. Maybe West Nile virus. Maybe AIDS of the Americas? Who knows—it's unprecedented!

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