Environment

It's Been The Warmest Winter In The United States Since Records Began

March 9, 2016 | by Tom Hale

Photo credit: National Centers for Environmental Information. NOAA

Much of East Coast America might have been blasted with snow in mid-January, but the United States has just had its warmest winter on record.

The latest series of reports from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information has shown that the meteorological winter – December, January, and February – in the contiguous United States was the warmest since records began over 100 years ago.

The winter months had an average temperature of 2.66°C (36.8°F). That’s 2.9°C (4.6°F) above the 20th century average. These temperatures broke the previous record of 2.5°C (36.5°F) set in 1999 and 2000. Not one single state had a cooler than average winter, with the vast majority experiencing “much above average” temperatures and six northeastern New England states receiving a record warmest winter.

Image credit: National Centers for Environmental Information/NOAA

Along with being unseasonably mild this winter in the U.S., it was also a particularly wet one. The winter precipitation for the United States was 3 centimeters (1.26 inches) above the 20th century average, with a total of 20.4 centimeters (8.05 inches).

NOAA did not include Hawaii and Alaska in their climate reports due to their lack of weather records, according to Slate. However, NOAA said in a statement that Alaska had its second-warmest winter on record.

As for the cause of all this, NOAA is mainly looking towards this year's particularly ravenous El Niño. “The strong El Niño that was present in the Equatorial Pacific interacted with other climate patterns to influence U.S. weather conditions during winter and February,” NOAA said.

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