Extreme Weather 2012

After a scorching summer, this winter continues a U.S. warming trend that will make 2012 the hottest year since modern record-keeping began. Drought, wildfires, hurricanes, floods, snow and destructive tornados were all part of this year's climate scene.

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It's cold now but 2012 was the hottest, most extreme weather year in U.S. history. It's been full of dramatic weather including tornadoes, drought, wildfires, severe heat, damaging thunderstorms and now snow. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has warned that extreme weather "is the new normal." Click to see dramatic photos of 2012's extreme weather events.
Snow falls as Justyna Stachowicz runs with her dog Dingo at Military Park in downtown Newark, New Jersey the day after Christmas. The area received winds with gusts up to 40 mph and dumped four to six inches on the area along with sleet and freezing rain.
It's finally snowing in Chicago but not before it set a record for the most number of snowless days ever.
Robert Connolly embraced his wife Laura as they surveyed the remains of the home owned by her parents that burned to the ground in the Breezy Point section of New York. More than 50 homes were destroyed in the fire which swept through the oceanfront community during Superstorm Sandy.
Brian Hajeski reacts after looking at debris of a home that washed up on to the Mantoloking Bridge in New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy caused multiple fatalities, halted mass transit and cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses.
A parking lot full of yellow cabs wass flooded as a result of Superstorm Sandy in Hoboken, New Jersey.
Hurricane Sandy was one of the worst storms to strike in many years. New York's mass transit system, the nation's largest with a daily ridership of more than 5 million, shut down. Residents all along the mid-Atlantic and Northeast were hit by the monster storm.
In mid-October the first big winter storm of the season swept through Northern California bringing rain to the lower elevations and snow in the mountains of the midwest. Arapahoe Basin Ski Resort was the first resort in North America to open for the season.
A woman jogged along Bayshore Boulevanrd as squalls blew across Tampa Bay in late August. The Republican National Convention delayed it's start because of approaching tropical storm Isaac.
As summer came to an end, hurricane Isaac hit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast exactly seven years after Katrina. Here, Chuck Cropp and his family wade through floodwater from Hurricane Isaac in New Orleans.
Corey Broussard looked to see if a Kenner, Louisiana tire store was open in the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac. Many businesses and residents went for weeks without power in southeast Louisiana after the massive storm hit the Gulf Coast.
A rare tornado was seen over the Breezy Point area of Queens, New York, on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012. The National Weather Service issued an unusual tornado warning for Queens and Brooklyn as a line of strong thunderstorms moved through the city.
U.S. Forrest Service / AP
Firefighters throughout the West struggled to gain control of wildfires caused by tender-dry terrain, lightening and gusty winds. Wildfires have destroyed homes, burned thousands of acres and forced many rural residents to evacuate.
Firefighters monitor the Ponderosa Fire near Viola, California. Blazes have destroyed large swaths of forrest in Colorado, New Mexico, Idaho, Wyoming, Arizona, and California so far this year.
This photo by the Chips Fire team shows a wildfire inside Northern California's Plumas National Forest. Strong winds and low humidity helped this wildfire increase to nearly 47 square miles.
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San Diego County firefighter Jason Lambirth surveyed a running wildfire in Strawn, Texas. Dozens of area homes were destroyed in the wildfires, fueled by dry conditions, high winds, and low humidity.
Surrounded by burnt brush and trees, a lone house still stands after surviving a wildfire a near Cle Elum, Washington.
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This year has been full of dramatic weather including tornadoes, drought, wildfires, severe heat and damaging thunderstorms. Now NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center says this year’s Atlantic hurricane season is likely to be above average. Here, lightening strikes the Empire State building in New York.
By August 1st 2012 there had been 885 tornadoes reported in the United States. At least 619 have been confirmed. In mid-April, this tornado moved on the ground north of Soloman, Kansas.
In August, a lightning bolt came down near Nationals Park before a baseball game between the Washington Nationals and the New York Mets. Summer is the peak season for lightning, one of the nation's deadliest weather phenomena.
Lightning flashed across the sky behind the steeple of St. George's Episcopal Church as storms rolled through the area in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Boston Globe via Getty Images
Here, a vivid lightning storm passed over Dorchester Harbor in Boston.
This aerial photo shows debris strewn about Marysville, Indiana, after a tornado swept through the area in March. A string of violent storms demolished small towns in Indiana and cut off rural communities in Kentucky as an early season tornado outbreak killed more than 30 people.
Melody Zollman found a stuffed bear while looking through the rubble of her home in Henryville, Indiana. It was destroyed by a tornado in March.
After seeing her friend's house, Danielle Madden reacts. A tornado hit the village of Moscow, Ohio in March.
After a tornado swept though Indiana, an aerial photo was taken of this flattened home. A string of violent storms demolished small towns in Indiana and cut off rural communities in Kentucky. The early season tornado outbreak killed more than 30 people.
On April 3rd a total of 55 severe thunderstorm warnings and 18 tornado warnings were issued by the Dallas/Fort Worth office of the National Weather Service. Over 1,100 homes were damaged in the outbreak. Despite hitting heavily populated areas, no one was killed, and few injuries were reported.
The tornadoes that tore through Dallas in early April were so strong that tractor trailers were sent flying into the air. Homes, cars, buildings, and trees were severely damaged.
Big-rig trucks were tossed high into the air and strewn across a parking lot when a series of tornadoes hit the Dallas/Ft. Worth area in April.
Brian Prestemon / NBCDFW.COM
A tornado passes by Accura Systems near Sunnyvale, Texas. From April 3 to April 4, 1974, there were 148 tornadoes confirmed in 13 states.
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Volunteers from the Forney Lions Club helped residents search through the remains of their homes after a series of tornadoes hit the Dallas/Fort Worth area in early April causing extensive damage.
Residents of several states scoured through the wreckage of battered homes and businesses after dozens of tornadoes blitzed the Midwest and Plains.
Tropical storm Debby was the fourth named storm of the 2012 hurricane season, marking the first time in recorded weather history that four storms have formed before the end of June. Jorge Torrez hugged his son Jayden, 12, as they sat on a wall overlooking their flooded home in Live Oak Florida.
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Doreen Ferrilo opens the door to her flooded home to salvage what she can. Two area rivers converged near Port Richey, Florida in June, surpassing the 100-year flood plan.
Kursty Setty embraced her cousin, Tarra Piet, as they stood in Piet's fathers' flooded Live Oak pet store. Dozens of homes and businesses were flooded by torrential rains from Tropical Storm Debby.
Convenience store employee Lindsey Bennight watched flood waters surround a Crawfordville, Florida store. Bennight had to walk through waist-deep water after the store was flooded by heavy rains caused by Tropical Storm Debby.
In late June, powerful storms swept through the mid-Atlantic region resulting in multiple deaths and leaving more than three million people without power.
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This summer, an uprooted tree laid on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol. The June 2012 Mid-Atlantic storms were one of the most destructive and deadly fast-moving severe thunderstorm complexes in North American history.
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Employees checked the status of apartments in the seven story Park Tanglewood Apartments in Riverdale, Maryland. Heavy winds tore off much of the building's roof during severe storms in late June.
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A large hanging branch was seen near American University in Washington, D.C., the morning after a storm swept through the area. The storms produced hurricane-force winds in excess of 80 mph.
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A woman inspected a car left in the middle of the road after a massive storm knocked out power in Takoma Park, Maryland.
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A work crew used chainsaws to dismantle a giant southern red oak tree that was blown over during a July deadly storm in Silver Spring, Maryland.
The Press-Enterprise / AP
A DC-10 made a drop retardant on the Buck wildfire over southern California's rugged terrain. Residents in parts of Riverside and San Diego counties were told to evacuate their homes as wildfires burned in the extreme heat.
The Press-Enterprise / AP
Riverside County Animal Services Lt. John Stephen evacuated a horse from a home in the Sage, California area during a dangerous wildfire.
This aerial photo, showed burned homes in the Mountain Shadows residential area of Colorado Springs. They were destroyed by the Waldo Canyon wildfire, the state's most destructive fire in history.
A firefighter worked the scene of a home being consumed by flames in Estes Park, Colorado. In 2012, more than 173,000 acres burned and 6,000 homes were destroyed.
A home was engulfed by flames from a wildfire, south of Gardnerville, Nevada. The fast-moving wildfire near the Nevada-California line destroyed several homes, forced evacuations and sent up huge plumes of black smoke.
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A Sikorsky S-64 Aircrane firefighting helicopter dropped water on a hotspot burning close to homes near Horsetooth Reservoir at Laporte, Colorado. The High Park Fire in Larimer County burned over 40,000 acres and damaged or destroyed more than 100 structures.
Tracy Greenwood embraced her daughter, Mariah Greenwood, as they watched the High Park wildfire burn near their home west of Fort Collins, Colorado. Withing one day of being reported, the fire grew to more than 31 square miles.
AFP/Getty Images
President Barack Obama spoke with firefighters while touring the Mountain Shadow neighborhood burned by wildfires in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Obama declared the fire a major disaster in Colorado and offered federal assistance.
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Children played with water jets in Strasbourg, eastern France. The country's Health Minister Marisol Touraine said a level 2 alert on the 1-3 heatwave warning system would be issued to ensure the well-being of the elderly and the young.
Mid-August saw record-breaking heat and damaging storms in Southern California. For several days the area was under an excessive heat warning indicating health-threatening conditions. Here the sign at the Clovis Memorial building reads 107 degrees on August 10.
Armando Eheurrta with his dog Goffy cooled off from record-setting heat that swept the area in mid-August at Belvedere Park East Los Angeles.
The first six months of 2012 were the hottest in the mainland United States since temperature records began in 1895.
Bloomberg via Getty Images
A boat sat on the ground in a dry section of the Morse Reservoir near Indianapolis, Indiana. More than 1,000 counties in 26 states were named natural-disaster areas, the biggest such declaration ever by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
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Marion Kujawa looked over an ear of corn picked from one of his fields near Ashley, Illinois. Last year, the corn field yielded more than 180 bushels per acre in past years. Kujawa expected to get less than 15 bushels per acre from this year's drought-damaged crop.
In July, the Mississippi river was so low that navigating became a challenge. Cargo ships could not carry the same amount of goods usually expected. And, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 62.9 percent of the contiguous U.S. experienced moderate to exceptional drought.
The average temperature during July 2012 was 77.6°F, 3.3°F above the 20th century average, marking the hottest July and the hottest month on record for the nation. Here a New York city firefighter tried to stay cool with water from the hose.
On a hot and humid day in NYC, Adam Davila covered his head as he kept an eye on his friend's nine month-old daughter.
With mid-July temperatures topping the 100F mark, some Philadelphia kids cooled off with water from an open fire hydrant.
The beach gets crowded as temperatures hovered in the high 90's in Manasquan, New Jersey. The National Weather Service says high pressure off the mid-Atlantic region pumped hot and humid air into the state makeing it feel close to 100 degrees in mid-July.
Photographer Colleen Spears composed a picture on the Camp Ellis jetty as the sun rises over the Atlantic Ocean on the coast of Maine. A recent poll by Knowledge Networks shows a large majority of Americans believe this year’s blistering summer and other weather disasters were probably made worse by global warming.
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