Climate change | Ecotrope

In The Hottest Year, The Northwest Was ... Wet

Ecotrope | Jan. 9, 2013 3:53 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:27 p.m.

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Notice the lack of heat records set in Oregon and Washington last year, which was the hottest on record in the U.S.

Notice the lack of heat records set in Oregon and Washington last year, which was the hottest on record in the U.S.

Notice anything interesting about this map of climate records for 2012? The rest of the lower 48 states all experienced heat and drought records while parts of Oregon and Washington saw the wettest year on record.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released climate records for 2012 showing that last year was the hottest on record in the U.S.

While the Pacific Northwest didn’t break any heat records, this animation does show evidence of drought in southeast Oregon.

“This was Oregon’s 12th warmest year, so we were above average but not to the extreme that the rest of the country experienced,” said Phil Mote, director of Oregon Climate Change Research Institute. “We did experience an exceptionally wet period in the Willamette Valley and an exceptionally dry summer. It was kind of a year of extremes for Oregon a little more than usual.”

Precipitation was below average in much of the country, but it was "much above normal" in the Pacific Northwest, according to new data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Precipitation was below average in much of the country, but it was “much above normal” in the Pacific Northwest, according to new data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Another NOAA map shows overall precipitation in Oregon and Washington was “much above normal”, though not record-breaking.

As The New York Times reports scientists say it’s significant that the average U.S. temperature in 2012 was a full degree warmer than the previous heat record, though global temperatures for the year likely won’t break any heat records:

“Scientists said that natural variability almost certainly played a role in last year’s extreme heat and drought. But many of them expressed doubt that such a striking new record would have been set without the backdrop of global warming caused by the human release of greenhouse gases. And they warned that 2012 was probably a foretaste of things to come, as continuing warming makes heat extremes more likely.”

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