Mean temperature departures from average for the contiguous U.S., December 2015 - February 2016. Graphic: NOAA

By Andrea Thompson
8 March 2016

(Climate Central) – On the heels of a record warm autumn for the contiguous U.S., winter has also topped the temperature charts.

The news, announced Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), may come as no surprise for those who experienced summer-like heat waves in Southern California or the often spring-like weather in the Northeast. It comes amid speculation that February may have also set a global heat record.

The global data won’t be available until next week, but if it pans out, February would follow a record-warm January and the hottest year ever recorded.

These records show both the influence of the long-term trend in global warming — caused by the continued release of heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere — as well as an exceptionally strong El Niño that is altering weather around the world.

The average temperature of the Lower 48 for December through February was 36.8°F (2.7°C), 4.6°F (2.6°C) above the 20th century average, according to NOAA data. That broke the old record set in the winter of 1999-2000 by 0.3°F (0.17°C).

Combined with autumn, the last six months were the warmest such period on record for the contiguous U.S.

The winter was also record warm for much of New England, including Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Hampshire.

Temperatures were the most above normal in the Canadian border region of the Northern Plains. [more]

Winter Tops Charts As Warmest on Record For U.S.



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