Cold Snap Freezes East, but Across US, It’s Mostly Heat Records that Are Being Set

February 24, 2015


Popular Science:

In fact, according a recent report from the National Climate Data Center, this has been the sixth warmest winter on record. That’s bad news for businesses like ski resorts, who rely on snow and cold weather. But while ski resorts can get a helping hand from snow machines, other places aren’t quite so fortunate. In Alaska, warm temperatures and a lack of snow on the ground forced the Iditarod to move its starting point from Willow, Alaska, to Fairbanks, 300 miles to the north.*

WGRZ Buffalo:

Professor Stephen Vermette coordinates the Meteorology and Climatology Program at SUNY Buffalo State. He says we can blame these extreme weather patterns on the jet stream.

“It’s been stuck in place and that’s week after week after week, especially February we’ve been getting some very cold temperatures while places like Montana and Idaho and California, even Alaska, are getting much warmer temperatures,” he says.


Vermette says more than four-thousand warm temperature records have been set out west just this month alone. But on our side of the map, there have been about 250 cold temperature records set.

“We have a winter severity index here at the college. We calculate it at the end of the year. And this is going to be one of the worst winters given the cold temperatures, and the amount of snow, the snow pack that’s been persistent. It’s going to be one of the worst winters we’ve had,” says Vermette. “We’re stuck into this pattern as far out as we can see.”

Vermette is hopeful that we will see warmer temperatures by March 21 when spring starts.

Climate Central:

“I think it is safe to say that the warmth so far in 2015 really is a continuation of the warmth in 2014,” NOAA climatologist Jake Crouch said in an email.

The past month was 1.39°F above the 20th century average of 53.6°F,  second only to 2007 in the agency’s records, which go back to 1880. The Japan Meteorological Agency had January 2015 tied with both January 2002 and 2007, while NASA data put the month in second, also just behind 2007.

Different agencies handle global temperature data in slightly different ways, leading to small differences in monthly and yearly global temperature rankings.

All three agencies ranked 2014 as the warmest year on record by a slim margin, driven by the accumulation of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Nine of the 10 hottest years on record have all occurred in the 21st century, with the exception of the blockbuster El Nino year of 1998. There hasn’t been a record cold year set since 1911, while during the same period there have been 19 record-warm years, according to a Climate Central analysis.

The 2014 mark was largely driven by considerable heat in the world’s oceans, as illustrated in the above graphic of sea surface temperatures released by NOAA. The map shows that parts of the Pacific were the second warmest on record and the Indian Ocean was the third hottest since 1982.

NSFW animation below just about covers it.

2 Responses to “Cold Snap Freezes East, but Across US, It’s Mostly Heat Records that Are Being Set”

  1. David Sanger Says:

    You can see a complete list of daily weekly monthly yearly and ytd records at the NOAA Data Tools: Daily Weather Records webpage.

  2. […] VIDEO: Cold Snap Freezes East, but Across US, It’s Mostly Heat Records that Are Being Set (Climate Crocks) […]

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