In its monthly climate report for the U.S., NOAA states it “appears virtually certain that 2012 will surpass the current record (1998, 54.3°F) as the warmest year for the nation.” Records have been maintained since 1895.
December would have to be 1 degree F colder than the coldest December on record (1983) for 2012 not to get the record. And, thus far, the month is off to a very warm start.
November itself was the 20th warmest November on record - tied with 2004. Temperatures were 2.1 degrees F above normal.
But the main story was the dry weather. Average precipitation averaged over the Lower 48 was just 1.19 inches, about an inch below average - or the 8th driest month on record.
“According to the November 27, 2012 U.S. Drought Monitor report, 62.7 percent of the contiguous United States was experiencing moderate-to-exceptional drought, larger than the 60.2 percent at the end of October,” writes NOAA’s Climate Watch Magazine.