As the year winds down, what crazy and extreme weather we have seen.
It’s been a year of wind and water in the United States, as superstorms and intense fire and drought have damaged crops, homes, and ecosystems across the country.
Here are some of the top weather stories of 2012.
Drought Threatens Corn Crops
This year, 63 percent of the lower 48 states experienced a record-breaking drought. A strong Arctic oscillation and North Atlantic oscillation led to fewer winter storms, a lower snowpack, and less spring melt.
In the summer, the drought combined with a heat wave and hit the US corn belt hard, with some temperatures so high that the corn had a hard time pollinating. Some livestock farmers were unable to feed their crops, while the use of corn for ethanol was called into question as well.
As of late December, much of the country was still considered to be at varying levels of drought, with the exception of areas in the northwest and northeast.
Wildfires Hit Colorado
In June, the Waldo Canyon wildfire swept into the news. The fire began on June 23rd, and at its peak, tens of thousands of people were evacuated. The fire killed two people and destroyed 350 homes, and it was the most destructive wildfire in Colorado’s history.
After three weeks, firefighters completely contained the fire, which burned through over 17,000 acres of land. A NASA map of the surface temperatures across the United States shows how the drought fueled the wildfire, which left 20 percent of the land so burned that there were no root systems left in the first four inches of soil.