2012 temperature evolution compared to the five other warmest years on record. Colored lines are projections based on past climate conditions in December. (NOAA)

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.

Percent of average precipitation during November (NOAA)

“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.