Even if the United States has the coldest December in its history — even if it’s a full degree (F) colder on average than the previous coldest December ever — 2012 will be the hottest year in American history.

Click to embiggen.
Click to embiggen.

We figured this was coming. But even though November wasn’t particularly hot — coming in 2.1 degrees F above the 20th century average, making it only the 20th-warmest November ever — it’s now almost a certainty.

From the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

The January-November period was the warmest first 11 months of any year on record for the contiguous United States. The national temperature of 57.1°F was 3.3°F above the 20th century average, and 1.0°F above the previous record warm January-November of 1934. During the 11-month period, 18 states were record warm and an additional 24 states were top ten warm.

Ninety-five of the NOAA’s 180 long-term temperature monitoring stations have seen their warmest years on record. Eighteen states have seen the warmest year-to-date in history. Every state that is in color on the map below has had temperatures in 2012 which were between the 10th-hottest (yellow) to hottest ever (bright red).

map of state heat records

This is because of climate change, mostly, and so maybe we should do something about that.