NOAA 2000-094
Contact: Curtis Carey


The year began with a record warm winter, but 2000 is ending with a record cold winter and a legacy of topsy-turvy weather events during the months in between, including a deadly F-4 tornado in Alabama over the weekend. At a press conference today in Washington, D. C., NOAA officials said the recent blast of cold air that broke several records last week, is a preview of what the nation can expect for the rest of the winter.

"Generally, while we experienced above-average temperatures in 2000, colder-than-normal temperatures emerged later, especially during November," said NOAA Administrator D. James Baker, adding that November was the second coldest on record.

Retired Brig. Gen. Jack Kelly, director of the NOAA's National Weather Service, said 2000 was shaped by variability and extremes, and the trend should continue into the winter. Updating the Winter 2000-01 outlook, Kelly said cold temperatures would continue through the next two weeks in the western and southern United States, the Great Lakes region and New England.

"As we progress through the winter, there is a good chance of seeing a couple more major cold outbreaks, and considerable swings in temperature and precipitation across the nation," he said.

Kelly also said colder winter temperatures are expected in the northern Plains, upper Midwest, Great Lakes, northern Rockies and parts of the Northwest; more precipitation – including more snow – is expected from Texas to the Carolinas and New England; the Pacific Northwest can expect more heavy rain events; states in the Southeast, Southwest and West will see warmer temperatures and Alaska will experience near normal precipitation with colder temperatures in the southern portion of the state.

"The recent cold spell, including the ice storms, is an example of what most of the nation will likely face throughout the winter," Kelly said. "Take precautions now to prepare for this winter, because it's here."

Year 2000 Highlights

  • Drought conditions set the stage for what has been called one of the worst wildfire seasons in 50 years. Nearly 91,000 fires scorched more than 7.2 million acres across the country;
  • The Dallas-Fort Worth area went 84 straight days without measurable precipitation, breaking local records that began in 1898;
  • In August, 36 percent of the United States was in moderate-to-severe drought;
  • For the first time since 1994, the United States escaped a direct hit from a hurricane. During 2000, the third straight year with above-average activity, there were 14 named storms in the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. Eight became hurricanes, and three reached major hurricane strength;
  • 168 percent increase in severe thunderstorm activity around major airline hubs in the Northeast and Great Lakes, resulted in a record number of delays, especially during peak summer travel season;
  • After two years of unusually high numbers of tornadoes in the United States, the 2000 tornado season was comparatively calm, with 898 tornado reports.