Thursday, January 8, 2015

National Climate Data Dump: 2014 Hot AND Cold, Lots of Extremes In U.S.

The latest data shows the southwestern United
States has the hottest year on record in 2014, while the
center part of the nation was chilly.  
At first glance, the climate data for the United States released today by the National Climatic Data Center seems almost like a yawner.  

The year 2014 was the 34th warmest and 40th wettest year out of the past 120 years for the United States.

But that middling climate data was the result of huge, sometimes unprecedented regional extremes of heat, cold, abrupt weather changes, big giant storms and unrelenting drought.

Look at the details and you get things like this:

--- Three states, California, Nevada and Arizona, had their hottest year on record. That the nation had a warmer than normal year means 2014 was the 18th consecutive warmer than normal year in the United States.

-- The middle of the country, from the Great Lakes down to Louisiana, had a very cold 2014. Seven states were in the Top 10 list of coldest years, but none made it into the Top 5. A warm December nationwide prevented any state from having a Top 5 coldest year.  Most of the eastern half of the nation was a little on the cool side, except for New England, which was just a touch on the warm side.

-- The Climatic Data Center has something called the U.S. Climate Extreme Index. It's a pretty complicated formula that measures how often and what percent of the nation has much above or below normal temperatures and precipitation, and how may other extremes there were.
A graph showing the the yearly percentage of extreme
weather events has shown an upward trend since the 1960s.  

In 2014, the Climate Extreme Index registered at 31 percent. There has been a trend upward since the 1960s on the extreme index.

The year 2014 turned out to be more "extreme" than 2013, but not as "extreme" as 2012, which was by far the most wild year in modern U.S. weather history.

-- There were eight weather disasters each costing at least $1 billion dollars in damage. These eight disasters claimed 53 lives.

More detailed information, and an analysis of 2014 global temperatures, will be released around mid-month.

The National Climatic Data Center information is expected to show that 2014, on a global basis, was the hottest on record. The Japan Meteorological Agency has already declared the past year as the hottest on record.

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