NBCRightNow.com -- According to the National Climatic Data Center 2012 could be the warmest year ever.
The national average temperature so far this year is 57.1°. That's more than 3° warmer than average.
If December stays warmer than normal, it will be the warmest year since 1998. The Climatic Data Center reports temperatures also caused the worst drought since the 1950s and the second-worst wildfire season in acreage burned.
"The polar ice cap has been diminishing. Once you get less reflectivity off of the snow pack then the sun can warm up the earth much earlier, much quicker and much more effectively. I think that probably has somewhat to do with it," said Dennis Hull, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Pendleton office.
18 states in the central and northeastern United States have felt record warmth.