Only 2011 brought more billion-dollar natural disasters to the U.S. than did 2012.
- 2012 was the warmest year on record for the contiguous United States, a full one degree Fahrenheit hotter than the previous record and 3.2 degrees F hotter than the 20th century average. The fourth warmest winter was followed by a record-breaking warm spring, the second-warmest summer and an unusually warm autumn.
- A year-long drought struck 22 states, enveloping more than half the continental land mass. Crops withered in the nation’s breadbasket and the effects of scant precipitation were widespread, from threatening barge traffic on the Mississippi River to an unusual December wildfire in the snowless Colorado mountains. At the end of the year more than 62 percent of the continental U.S. remained in the pernicious grip of drought, causing scientists to predict widespread drought conditions would persist into the first quarter of the new year.
- Summer wildfires burned more than 9.2 million acres, more than twice as much as the average 40 years ago. The third smallest snow pack on record led to an early and long season of dry conditions.
- Two hurricanes making landfall in the U.S. made the billion-dollar disaster list: slow-moving Isaac flooded Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, while superstorm Sandy caused damage in 14 states up the Atlantic seaboard. Flooding in New York and New Jersey was cited by some as a harbinger of likely future disasters caused by rising sea levels.
- Between late April and early July, severe weather comprising high winds, thunderstorms, tornadoes and hail lashed eight regions in the U.S., from the Southwest, over the Rockies, across the Plains, into the Southern Plains, through the Midwest and the Ohio Valley, and into the Northeast.
- In March and April, three tornado outbreaks spawning scores of tornadoes ravaged communities in the Midwest (Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa); Texas; and the Ohio Valley and Southeast (Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia).