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Activist group cites state weather records

A national environmental organization that pushes strongly for action on climate change has released a report ranking West Virginia among the top 10 states for shattering weather records for heat in 2012.   

In 2012, at least 93 record-breaking extreme weather conditions were set in the Mountain State, the National Resources Defense Council says.

These included: record-breaking heat in 20 counties with a total of 53 new records, record-breaking rainfall in 10 counties with a total of 17 new rainfall records, and record-breaking snow in 15 counties with a total of 23 new snow records. Information has been collected over a 30-year period at participating weather stations. 

Nationwide, 3,527 monthly weather records were broken for heat, rain and snow, according to the environmental group.

An interactive map at ranks all 50 states for the percentage of weather stations reporting at least one monthly heat record broken in 2012. In addition to West Virginia, the top 10 states include Tennessee, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, Maine, Colorado, and Maryland.

The council looked at specific areas of the state where records were broken on certain days.

Officials with the National Weather Service consider the state as a whole for the entire year.

Records dating back 118 years to 1894 indicate that 2012 was 2.2 degrees above average.

"That is the state as a whole," said Ken Batty, meteorologist with the weather service offices on Corridor G. While "2.2 degrees doesn't sound like much, it is significant. It was the third warmest out of 118 years."

Most of the lower 48 states saw above-average temperatures as well, he added.

He found it interesting that West Virginia as a whole saw a cool autumn during the months of September, October and November and still ended up with the third warmest year on record.

Among the most memorable of 2012 weather events would be the derecho, the fast, furious storm that swept the state on June 29, leaving a path of devastation and power outages in its wake. Kanawha County temperatures soared to 100 degrees or more on June 28, 29 and 30. It was the first time a derecho hit West Virginia since 1991.

Those without power suffered in the heat or took refuge in shelters as power crews worked diligently. Thunderstorms that followed created more complications with power restoration.

On Oct. 30, a blizzard brought on by Hurricane Sandy  dumped heavy, wet snow on the Mountain State, knocking out electricity and leaving residents shivering or again heading to area shelters for a reprieve.

From tornadoes in March and the derecho in June to the snowstorm in October, the year of 2012 had memorable moments, Batty said.

While environmentalists point to climate change due to global warming, Batty declines to enter that discussion.   

"Is every year going to be that way? I hope not," Batty said.

Immediate weather reports for Kanawha County appear much more gentle.

Overnight rain was expected to move out this morning with temperatures reaching the high 30s. Temperatures over the next few days are expected to be in the 40s and 50s and then begin to cool heading into next week.


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