On Thursday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its monthly “State of the Climate” update for the U.S.  These updates always contain a treasure trove of interesting weather and climate news.

In this latest report, the record challenging heat in the Southwest U.S. and unusually cold weather in the eastern half of the country emerge as the two standout climate stories of the year so far.

Statewide temperature rankings January-May 2014 (NOAA)

As the map from the report shows (above), California has had its warmest year on record to date, while 13 states in the eastern U.S. have ranked among the top 10 coldest on record so far.

The warmth in California and surrounding states is closely tied to the severe drought in the region.  A hundred percent of California is classified under severe, extreme, or exceptional drought. The drought is having profound consequences for water resources, wildfire risk, and agriculture.

The cold in the eastern U.S. led to a punishing winter which was linked to a slowdown in economic growth across the entire country. In the Great Lakes, it took until around June 10 for the ice to finally disappear off Lake Superior.

Which climate trend of 2014 do you think is most significant? Vote in our poll and feel free to comment…

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