While climate scientists warn that 2014 could be the warmest year on record globally, last year was only the 34th warmest on record in the U.S., according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
NOAA says the 2014 average contiguous U.S. temperature was 52.6 degrees Fahrenheit, about 0.5 degrees above the 20th Century average. The climate agency said very “warm conditions dominated the West, with four states having their warmest year on record, while the Midwest and Mississippi Valley were cool” and that the “temperature exceeded the 20th Century average for the 18th consecutive year.”
There were also fewer weather/climate disasters that cost more than $1 billion in 2014 than the previous year, according to NOAA. In 2013 there were nine weather/climate disasters that killed 113 people, while 2014 only saw eight such events and 53 people killed.
Probably the most startling figure is that California had relatively average precipitation despite its severe drought. Though NOAA climatologists warned that there were “tremendous impacts to agriculture” from water shortages, along with other ecological impacts from record heat.
The contiguous U.S. as a whole saw above average rain last year.
“The drought is a silent disaster, but the impacts are quite profound,” Adam Smith, a NOAA climatologist, told reporters on a conference call.
Reporters also pressed NOAA climatologists about the severe cold weather currently hitting most of the U.S. and how much longer Americans could expect to freeze. The main question: is this caused by global warming?
“It’s hard to make the connection of this singular pattern to longer term climate change,” said Jake Crouch, a NOAA climatologist. “If we look at global temperatures, it’s really just eastern America that’s experiencing these cold temperatures during 2014.”
The U.S. deep freeze comes as the Japan Meteorological Agency announced that 2014 was the warmest year on record by 0.05 degrees Celsius. Environmentalists have heralded this as proof the Earth is still warming, despite satellite data showing there has been no global warming for 18 years and three months.
NOAA said it will release its own analysis of 2014 global temperatures next week, just days before President Obama is set to give his State of the Union Address. Obama’s speech is expected to talk about global warming and his administration’s efforts to curb global temperature rises.
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