Hurricane Sandy was the big weather story, but there were plenty of other events that kept weather fans talking in the past 12 months.

"You have to start with Sandy, the most devastating storm on record in the state," said state climatologist David Robinson. "Other than that, you have to talk about the persistent warmth and the string of 21 consecutive months of (the state's average  temperature) at or above normal."

The ongoing warmth adds to the effects climate change is having on weather locally, nationally and internationally, with 2012 the warmest year on record for the U.S. and the world, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Arctic sea ice reached a record low amount this summer and much of the midwest has been lodged in an extreme drought for the past year.

The heat joins Hurricane Sandy and the June 30 derecho as the top three South Jersey weather events of 2012. The two storms brought extended power outages to much of South Jersey as well as millions of dollars in damage.

Hurricane Sandy, the costliest disaster in state history,  made landfall just south of Atlantic City as a post-tropical northeaster at 8 p.m. October 29. The massive storm lashed the coast with rain, wind and coastal flooding for three days. In southern Cape May County, more than a foot of rain fell in places. In Atlantic County, up to 8 inches of rain fell from the storm. Tropical storm force winds were felt across the entire state, with hurricane force gusts recorded in Atlantic City and northward.

Statewide- 40 people died in the storm, including 4 people in South Jersey. At one point, nearly 200,000 Atlantic City Electric customers were without power and, statewide, up to 3 million people had no power.

There also was the June 30 derecho, the most destructive thunderstorm to strike South Jersey in recent memory. The storm barreled across Cumberland and Atlantic counties, packing hurricane-force winds and intense lightning. More than 200,000 Atlantic City Electric customers were without power when the storm was over and some did not see electricity return for more than a week.

The warmth contributed to a moderate short-term drought that developed in late winter and lasted throughout much of the spring. However, heavy rains from Sandy and from other coastal storms in November and December erased that drought and the year will finish with rainfall about five inches above normal.

It’s impossible to predict exactly what the weather will be in the coming months and year, particularly for the east coast, which sees only a few overall trends from large scale climate patterns that are more routinely predicted, Robinson said.

January

Average Temperature: 39.2 degrees, 6.2 degrees above normal

Precipitation: 2.35 inches, .87 inches below normal

Notable events: Winter surfers complained there were no waves. There were days with temperatures in the 60s. Light winds, sunny skies. And a half inch of snow on January 9 and 1.6 inches of snow on January 21. The average temperature was more than 6 degrees above normal, setting the stage for the fourth warmest winter on record at Atlantic City International Airport in Egg Harbor Township. The warmth also meant that the ocean temperature never dropped below 38 degrees for the entire winter.

February

Average Temperature: 40.4 degrees, 5.1 degrees above normal

Precipitation: 2.39 inches, .48 inches below normal

Notable events:  This was the fifth warmest February on record at Atlantic City International Airport in Egg Harbor Township. The warmth and lack of snow cover also led to the start of a significant fire season that began several weeks earlier.  The high temperature reached 68 degrees on February 1, setting a new record.

March

Average Temperature: 51.2 degrees, 9 degrees above normal

Precipitation: 2.10 inches, 2.11 inches below normal

Notable events: The warmest March on record at Atlantic City International Airport. The start of a moderate drought that lasted until nearly June. High temperatures reached 70 degrees 9 days and much of the month felt more like early May. Multiple days had fire weather warnings and forest fire crews battled several major fires in rural areas of the Pinelands. Pollen counts also were surprisingly high, with counts exceeding 1,000 many days.

April

Average Temperature: 53.5 degrees, 1.8 degrees above normal

Precipitation: 2.93 inches, .70 inches below normal

Notable events: Ongoing dryness and warm weather created a tough fire seasons, with forest wardens describing conditions at one point as "one match away from Armageddon." Rain toward the end of the month lowered the fire risk, but drought persisted.

May

Average Temperature: 65 degrees, 3.9 degrees above normal

Precipitation: 3.56 inches, .21 inches below normal

Notable events: The third warmest May on record also was notable because of the unusually warm ocean temperature. In early May, the water off Atlantic City reached 70 degrees, a temperature typically seen in July. Memorial Day weekend had the weather of a July weekend,

June

Average Temperature: 69.9 degrees, 1 degrees below normal

Precipitation: 6.20 inches, 3.09 inches above normal

Notable events: The seventh wettest June on record also was the first month of the year where the temperature was below normal. due to the first half of the month having relatively chilly temperatures. There also were two heat waves, the second of which was punctuated with a powerful line of thunderstorms that struck in the middle of the night on June 30, bringing hurricane force winds, downing thousands of trees and power lines.

July

Average Temperature: 78.5 degrees, 2.3 degrees above normal

Precipitation: 3.38 inches, .34 inches below normal

Notable events: The fifth hottest July on record was marked with the 14 days with temperatures of at least 90 degrees and 2 days where the temperature reached 100 degrees.

August

Average Temperature: 75.5 degrees, 1.1 degrees above normal

Precipitation: 5.59 inches, 1.48 inches above normal

Notable events:  August didn't seem especially warm and, in fact, there were strings of days with September-like weather toward the end of the month. But the average temperature was more than a degree above normal, helping cement summer 2012 as the tenth warmest on record.

September

Average Temperature: 67.4 degrees, .2 degrees above normal

Precipitation: 3.52 inches, .37 inches below normal

October

Average Temperature: 58 degrees, 1.0 degrees above normal

Precipitation: 8.09 inches, 4.67 inches above normal

Notable events: October seemed as if it would be a relatively average month, with some warmer days toward the beginning, the first frost toward the middle, and relatively average rainfall. That is, until Hurricane Sandy came on to the scene. In addition to the rain, wind and storm surge, Sandy shattered the New Jersey record for the lowest barometric pressure of 946 millibars recorded at landfall. That number also tied the record of lowest barometric pressure recorded in the northeast U.S. north of Cape Hatteras, equal to the 1938 Long Island Express Hurricane. Sandy's storm surge was a tenth of a foot lower than that of the December Storm of 1992 in Atlantic City, but flooding occurred in many barrier island communities at record levels.

November

Average Temperature: 42.1 degrees, 4.7 degrees below normal

Precipitation: 1.34 inches, 1.93 inches below normal

Notable events: Sandy ushered in a wintery like weather pattern that lasted for weeks, with December-like temperatures many days. The northeaster that struck November 7 dropped 2.5 inches of snow at the airport in Egg Harbor Township, shattering a November snowfall record. Snow fell even at the coast, leaving a dusting in many areas.

December

Average Temperature:  43.5 degrees, 6.1 degrees above normal

Precipitation: : 7.15 inches, 3.67 above normal

Notable events: Notable events: November's cold snap did not last long. Much of December was unseasonably warm, with high temperatures in the upper 50s to low 60s many days. There were numerous strong fronts that came through, bringing high winds and heavy rains, but the weather did not turn cold until just before Christmas. A series of coastal storms brought high winds, heavy rain, more coastal flooding that battered areas weakened by Sandy.

Contact Sarah Watson:

609-272-7216

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