Earth had third warmest May on record (tie with 1998 and 2005)

It was the chilliest spring in the U.S. since 1996, and 38th coolest on record.  But the cool weather in the U.S. was an anomaly as the globe experienced its 8th warmest spring on record, capped off by the third warmest May according to NOAA.

The average global temperature in May was 1.19 degrees F. above the 20th century average, matching 1998 and 2005 for the third warmest  May dating back to 1880.

Link: NOAA State of the Climate Report for May

The global temperature has been above average now 339 straight months (more than 28 years).  The last time global temperatures were below average (February, 1985), the Chevrolet Celebrity was among the top selling cars.

Some of the global hot spots in May include Scandinavia and Australia says NOAA. Both Norway and Sweden had among their warmest Mays on record.  And temperatures in southern Australia were more than 4 degrees F above average.

Temperatures compared to average during May 2013 (NOAA)

On the cool end of the spectrum, Spain had its coldest May since 1985, more than 2 degrees below average.

NH snow cover extent difference from average April to May (NOAA) NH snow cover extent difference from average April to May (NOAA)

Snow and ice

After relatively healthy snow cover compared to average during winter (6th highest on record in January, 9th highest in April), Northern Hemisphere snow cover plummeted in May, to the third lowest level on record (dating back to 1967) for the month.  Arctic sea ice had its 10th lowest May extent on record (dating back to 1979).  On the flip side, Antarctic sea ice was 5th largest on record for May.


Several notable records for wetness and dry weather were established during in May.  Parts of the north central U.S. and central Europe had their wettest Mays.

Related: Severe flooding inundates parts of Central Europe (PHOTOS)

Precipitation percent of normal over land areas in May, 2013 (NOAA)

“Record dryness was scattered across different parts of the globe, including part of northern Chile, northern South Africa, eastern Niger, south central Ukraine, and parts of southern Kazakhstan,” NOAA writes.

Jason is currently the Washington Post’s weather editor. A native Washingtonian, Jason has been a weather enthusiast since age 10.
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