The eastern United States: A lonely cold pocket on a feverish planet

NASA’s map of March temperatures around the globe is covered in orange and red, indicative of temperatures well above the norm and symptomatic of a planet running a fever for over 29 years.  Yet various shades of blue light up eastern North America shivering under a cold regime which seized control in January.


March temperature differences from 1951-1980 baseline (NASA)

The wave after wave of bitter cold that has walloped the eastern half of the U.S. since the start of 2014 has truly been an anomaly set against the temperature pattern around the rest of the world. Incredibly,  the eastern U.S. is the only region of the world that has been colder than normal each of the first three months this calendar year.

Here’s January’s map:


January temperature differences from 1951-1980 baseline (NASA)

And here’s February:


February temperatures compared to normal in lower 48 (NOAA)

So the tens of millions of winter weary residents of the eastern U.S. shouldn’t let the frigid weather in their backyard cloud their view of the relatively warm planet.

While March produced areas of exceptional cold in the Great Lakes and Northeast – it was the third warmest March on record for the globe, 2 degrees (F) warmer than (the 1950-1981) average according to NASA.

The weather in the western U.S. this calendar year, characterized by much above normal to record-setting warmth, has more closely reflected the global state of affairs.


January-March temperatures compared to normal (NOAA)

Perhaps not coincidentally, the distribution of temperatures around the globe today, April 16, mimics the pattern  so common this year:


Image obtained using Climate Reanalyzer, Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, USA.

There’s that eastern cold pocket again…

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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Jason Samenow · April 16