Bloomberg News reported that last year was the warmest on records going back to 1895 for the 48 contiguous U.S. states and the second-worst for weather extremes including drought, hurricanes and wildfires, according to a U.S. report. The average temperature in the region in 2012 was 55.3 degrees Fahrenheit (12.9 Celsius), 3.2 degrees higher than the average for the 20th century, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climatic Data Center said today in an analysis of the year. According to the U.S. Climate Extremes Index, which takes into account temperatures as well as tropical storms and drought, 2012 followed 1998 into the record books for extreme weather with almost twice the average value. Eleven disasters caused at least $1 billion in damage, including hurricanes Isaac in August and Sandy in October, the center said.
The 2012 heat surpassed 1998’s record by 1 degree, a significant amount considering that only 4 degrees separate 1998 from the coldest year on record, 1917, said Jake Crouch, a climate scientist at the Asheville, North Carolina, center. The warmth is a reflection of natural variability as well as the impact of climate change, he said. Each of the lower 48 states had an annual temperature that was higher than average, said the center. Nineteen set records. Of course in Europe and Asia they would be praying for some warm weather. The cold and below normal temperatures there has been a supporting factor for heating oil.
According to the South China Post, China’s coldest winter in 28 years has damaged some sugarcane crops in the top producing region of the world’s second largest sugar consumer, state media and traders said on Wednesday, as fears of another cold front push local futures to a five-month high. They say a new cold front set to hit southern China this week will take temperatures down as low as minus 5 degrees this weekend, Chinese weather authorities said on Tuesday, and may bring snowstorms to some provinces, such as Guizhou and Hunan. A cold front earlier this week has already damaged cane crops in Guangxi, which produces 60% of the country’s output, traders said. While it may be too early to assess the extent of damage, a lower domestic harvest could prompt Beijing to ease control over imports. Beijing has not issued any import quotas so far in the year as it has focused on stockpiling domestic supplies in a bid to shore up sugar prices. Temperatures in China have plunged to their lowest in almost three decades, cold enough to freeze coastal waters and trap 1,000 ships in ice, official media have said.
China imported 3.48 million tons of sugar between January and November of last year, up 44 per cent from the preceding year. Yet the cold has not dampened the Chinese demand for gold. We saw a big bounce in Chinese buying.