2012 Hottest Half-Year Ever

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2012 is staying on track as a year of extreme weather events. NOAA reports that June was two degrees F hotter than the 20th-century average, which contributed to making the first half of 2012 the warmest ever in the U.S. since record keeping began in 1895.

The period from June 2011 to June 2012 was also the hottest 12-month period in the nation's history, with an average national temperature of 52.9 degrees F (11.61 degrees C), 4.5 degrees F above average.

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Hidden within the average is a great degree of variety across the United States. While some areas were scorched and parched, others were chilly, drowned in deluges or lashed by freak storms. 

North:

The Pacific Northwest bucked the trend and enjoyed a chilly June. Washington had its seventh coolest June on record. Alaska was approximately average.

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The Plains states weren't as lucky. June continued a long hot dry spell in Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming, leaving livestock hungry for pasture.

South:

The sunny south suffered the sun's scourge in June. The month was actually below average for much of the Southeast, but a heat wave at the end of June made Southernerns forget all about the pleasant start to the month. More than 30 daily temperature records were shattered on June 29th and 30th. Atlanta, Georgia lived up to the moniker "Hotlanta," and hit 106 degrees F (41.1 degrees C) on the 30th.

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Johnston, S.C. may have hit an all time top temp for the state with a scorching 113 degrees F (45 degrees C) on the 29th.

Even further south, San Juan, Puerto Rico suffered its warmest June ever with a mean temperature of 85.7 degrees F (29.8 degrees C).

East:

Florida floundered in a record-breakingly wet June. Tropical Storn Betty made a slow march across the state dropping a foot of water in some places.

Florida wasn't the only area to suffer a storm's furry. A rare "derecho" storm sent a line of fast moving thunderstorms from Illinois to Washington, D.C., knocking out power as it went.

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Midwest:

The "derecho" in Illinois must have taken all the gusto out of Midwestern storms. Much of the southern Midwest saw little rain and slipped into drought conditions in June and broiled under heat wave, especially during the last week of the month. St. Louis Missouri had its warmest June day since 1954 when thermometers hit 108 degrees F (42 C) in the home of the Gateway Arch.

The northern Midwest had what the southern portion was lacking. Duluth, Minnesota suffered deadly floods which destroyed infrastructure and washed out a highway. Three people plunged to their deaths in the chasm left by the collapsed highway.

West:

The wildfires in the West were some of the worst in the region's history. Hundreds lost their homes and communities in the ashes of blazes mostly in Utah, Montana, Colorado, Idaho and Wyoming.

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Significant events in June 2012 (NOAA)