WATCH LIVE: Carjacking victim, who lost both his legs, speaks as months-long search continues for suspects

2012 hottest year in history in the U.S.

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

UNITED STATES– If you’re looking for what Donna Summer used to call “Hot Stuff,” you just might be too late. Actually, make that a year late.

Last year was the hottest year ever recorded in the U.S., according to NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The average temperature for the year in the United States was 55.3 degrees, up a whole point from the previous scorcher, 1998. For perspective, the average temp for the whole 20th century was 52.1 degrees.

We know what you’re thinking — “55 degrees?! That doesn’t sound too hot.” But remember a lot of places in the U.S. see snow more often than every blue moon, meaning they have several days below zero.

So think how hot it has to get elsewhere to average out to 55.3?

You know it was hot here in Houston — the trees in Memorial Park nearly dried up and blew away.

Scientists blame the increase on “cyclical weather patterns,” but they say people are also adding to it by burning fossil fuels and producing greenhouse gases.

Before you scoff at that, like you’ll never see any effects of climate change in your lifetime — guess what — the changes are here. Heat the Earth up a few degrees every decade, and it could soon get so hot, it won’t support life.

Eric Boldt with National Weather Service says, “As the temperatures continue to warm, it provides fuel to the atmosphere. And that’s one thing that hurricanes need is warm, sea surface temperatures.”

That could explain why 2012 also turned out to be the second worst year for tornadoes, hurricanes and all-around nasty weather. 11 such disasters hit the country, each one costing us more than a billion bucks!

Maybe those high priced hybrid cars aren’t such a bad investment, huh?  Either we pay now to find alternatives to climate-changing behavior, or we pay later… if we’re still around.