Though the average annual temperature in South Carolina was almost 10 degrees higher than the national average set in 2012, making it the “hottest” year to date in the United States., it wasn’t the warmest for the Palmetto State.
According to The Associated Press, the average annual temperature in the U.S. was 55.32 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a full degree warmer than the record set in 1998.
Widespread drought and a very mild winter were reasons cited for the increased temperatures, the AP reported.
In South Carolina, the preliminary state average temperature for 2012 was 64.4 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Assistant State Climatologist Wes Tyler. The state record is an average of 65.1 degrees set in 1925.
“There’s a lot of contributing factors – tropical activity or the lack of, jet stream placement, pressure patterns, rain fall, lack of rain fall, cloudiness,” Tyler said. “Everything weighs into it.”
While the rest of the country was suffering from what many considered a heat wave in 2012, the CSRA was 1.1 degree below the average during the hottest months of the year from June to August, Tyler said. The Aiken Municipal Airport even experienced a date record low of 59 degrees on the morning of June 27.
The CSRA saw a lot more rain during the summer months, too, which helped keep excessively hot temperatures at bay. In 2012, the area saw a total of 16.30 inches from June to August. A total of 12.28 inches of precipitation occurred in August alone. The long-term average for the summer months is 12.88 in the CSRA, Tyler said.
In 2011, it was a different story. That summer, the CSRA experienced an average 3.8 degrees above the average temperatures from June to August. Due to drought and other factors, the Aiken area was hit by a brutally dry, hot summer and only saw 7.19 inches of rain from June to August.
“You get that when you have a real desert-like air mass,” Tyler said. “That was the kind of situation we were in that period.”
Though South Carolina didn’t really experience anything too out of the norm in 2012, scientists find themselves stunned with the one degree increase in the national annual average, the AP reports, stating that records are typically broken by only a tenth of a degree or so.