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America set an off-the-charts heat record in 2012. It’s official: 2012 was the hottest year on record in the continental U.S. — and it wasn’t even close. It’s official: 2012 marked the warmest year on record for the USA, scientists from the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., announced Tuesday. Temperatures in the contiguous United States last year were the hottest in more than a century of record-keeping, shattering the mark set in 1998 by a wide margin, the federal government announced Tuesday. NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) officially crowned 2012 the warm weather king today for the Lower 48 states, and by a lofty margin. It’s official: 2012 was the warmest year on record in the lower 48 states, as the country experienced blistering spring and summer heat, tinderbox fire weather conditions amid a widespread drought, and one of the worst storms to ever strike the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. As the climate has warmed during the past several decades, there has been a growing imbalance between record daily high temperatures in the contiguous U.S. and record daily lows. Global warming is directly linked to only a few weather events and climate trends. You’ve certainly seen the news stories trumpeting data from the National Climatic Data Center purporting to show that 2012 was the warmest year on record in the continental United States. Bush fires raging across some of the most populous parts of Australia — feeding off widespread drought conditions and high winds — pushed firefighters to their limits and residents to their wits’ end on Wednesday as meteorologists tracked the country’s hottest spring and summer on record into uncharted territory. The heatwave that has scorched the nation since Christmas is a taste of things to come, with this week’s records set to tumble again and again in the coming years, climate scientists said. Record temperatures across southern Australia cooled Wednesday, reducing the danger from scores of raging wildfires but likely bringing only a brief reprieve from the summer’s extreme heat and fire risk. There is something very ugly about the commentary on Australia’s heatwave.