February caps 29-year streak of warmer than normal months on Earth


February 2014 temperature difference from 20th century average (NOAA)

The balance of the Lower 48 shivered in February, but the globe overall had a warmer than normal month.  It tied for the 21st warmest February on record for Earth since 1880, with the temperature above the 20th century average for the 348th consecutive month – totaling exactly 29 years.

While February’s average global temperature was 0.74 degrees F. above the 20th century average, it wasn’t that warm by recent standards.  Its ranking as (tied for) the 21st warmest February is the lowest of any month (relative to its own monthly history) in two years. The last month outside the top 20 warmest (relative to its own monthly history) was February 2012, according to Derek Arndt at the National Climatic Data Center.

Frigid cold over a relatively small area of the Earth’s surface kept global temperatures from ranking higher.

“A small section of the north central Atlantic Ocean was record cold and many areas across central and northern North America and western Asia had temperatures more than 9°F (5°C) below their February average,” says the National Climatic Data Center.

The land surface temperature – while also warmer than the long term average – was the coolest in 20 years (since February 1994).

Nevertheless, large areas of the globe were much warmer than normal.

“Part of far east Russia along with much of the northeastern Pacific Ocean, part of the western South Pacific, sections of the Arctic Ocean, parts of the western North Atlantic, part of the South Atlantic, and the oceans off the southern coast of Africa, and the Adriatic Sea were record warm,” writes the National Climatic Data Center. “Far east Russia and part of northern Scandinavia observed temperatures more than 9°F (5°C) above their February average.”

The National Climatic Data Center, in its report issued this morning, also reported that the globe’s temperature for December to February – or meteorological winter – ranked 8th warmest on record.

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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