Some records get broken, others get smashed. Last year's unrelenting heat smashed the previous record for hottest year in the lower 48 states.
Until 2012, the gap between the coldest and hottest year in 117 years of records was about 4 degrees.
Last year added a full degree on the record high side.
It's instructive to compare the U.S. record to Nebraska.
Going into 2012, Nebraska had a noticeably larger gap, 6.38 degrees, between its coldest and hottest years on record.
In 2012, Nebraska saw only a marginal increase, .11 degrees, over the previous hottest year.
One reason for this is the state's location. Because Nebraska is in the middle of a continent, it is prone to wide swings in extremes, said Natalie Umphlett, regional climatologist for the High Plains Regional Climate Center.
For the record, here are the actual numbers for the lower 48 states:
— Coldest year on record: 1917, with a 50.1 degree average temperature.
— Previous hottest year: 1998, 54.3.
— Hottest year on record: 2012, 55.3.
— Coldest year on record: 1993, with a 45.99 degree average temperature.
— Previous hottest year on record: 1934, 52.37.
— Hottest year on record: 2012, 52.48.
Source: High Plains Regional Climate Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center.