NOAA REPORTS WARMER 2005 FOR U.S., NEAR-RECORD WARMTH GLOBALLY
Hurricanes, Floods, Snow, Wildfires All Notable
After a record-breaking hurricane season,
blistering heat waves, lingering drought and a crippling Northeast
blizzard, 2005 is ending as a warm year in the United States. It will
come close to the all-time high global annual average temperature,
based on preliminary data gathered by scientists at NOAA’s National
Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.
2005 for U.S.
report that the 2005 annual average temperature for the contiguous
United States (based on preliminary data) will likely be 1.0°
F (0.6°C) above the 1895-2004 mean, which will make 2005 one of
the 20 warmest years on record for the country. Mean temperatures
through the end of November were warmer than average in all but three
states. No state was cooler than average. A July heat wave pushed
temperatures soaring beyond 100 degrees, and broke more than 200 daily
records established in six western states. A new record of seven consecutive
days at - or above - 125°F was established at Death Valley, Calif.
The heat wave spread across the country during late July, scorching
the East and prompted record electricity usage in New England and
Rainfall and Snow
winter was a season of contrasts for the West, with excessive rainfall
in the Southwest and severe drought in the Northwest. A parade of
winter Pacific storms triggered severe flooding and devastating landslides
in southern California and brought the second-wettest winter on record
to the Southwest region. Record and near-record snowpack levels, which
were widespread across the Southwest by early spring, eased drought
in a region where it had persisted for five years. Meanwhile, drought
conditions worsened in the Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies
in early 2005 because and snowpack in much of the region was at record
low levels at the end of winter. However, above average precipitation
in subsequent months led to improving drought conditions in much of
During spring, the drought focus shifted
to the Midwest and southern Plains. Severe dryness persisted across
parts of northern Illinois, with Chicago and Rockford recording their
driest March-November on record. Drought disasters were declared in
all or parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Texas,
Drier-than-average conditions contributed to an active wildfire season
that burned more than 8.5 million acres in 2005 -- 4.5 million acres
consumed in Alaska alone, based on preliminary data from the National
Interagency Fire Center. This exceeds the old record set in 2000 for
acreage burned in a wildfire season for the U.S. as a whole. At the
end of November, 18 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in moderate-to-extreme
drought based on a widely used measure of drought (the Palmer Drought
Index) in contrast to 6 percent at the end of November last year.
Record precipitation fell in the Northeast
during the fall with three storm systems affecting the region in October.
Nine states in the Northeast had their wettest October since 1895,
and the October snowfall record on Mount Washington was shattered
when 78.9 inches of snow fell during the month. Another notable snow
storm in 2005 was the ‘Blizzard of 2005’, which brought
more than two feet of snow across much of southern New England in
late January. This storm ranked as the sixth seventh most extreme
snow event in the Northeast as measured by a newly developed Northeast
Snowfall Impact Scale (NESIS) index and contributed to the snowiest
January on record in Boston.
Cyclones and Hurricanes
Atlantic hurricane season set several records. There were 26 named
storms (storms with sustained winds of at least 39 miles per hour).
In addition, there were an unprecedented 14 hurricanes, of which seven
were major hurricanes (Category 3 or better on the Saffir-Simpson
Scale). Three category 5 storms (sustained winds of 156 miles per
hour or more) formed in the Atlantic Basin for the first time in a
single season (Katrina, Rita, and Wilma). Four major hurricanes and
three tropical storms made landfall in the U.S., with an eighth storm
(Ophelia) brushed brushing the North Carolina coast. Tropical cyclone
activity was near to below average in the Eastern Pacific and near
average in the Western North Pacific basins through early December.
annual temperature for combined land and ocean surfaces is expected
to be very close to the record global temperature that was established
in 1998 under the influence of an extremely strong El Niño
episode. There has been no such El Niño event in 2005, but
rather, unusual warmth across large parts of the globe throughout
the year. NOAA is in the process of transitioning to an improved global
temperature analysis system. The data analysis system used by NOAA
for global temperature analyses over the past eight years indicates
that 2005 would likely be the second-warmest year on record (1.06º
F; 0.59º C above the 1880-2004 mean), marginally lower than 1998.
The largest temperature anomalies were
widespread throughout high latitude regions of the Northern Hemisphere
and included much of Russia, Scandinavia, Canada, and Alaska. During
the past century, global surface temperatures have increased at a
rate near 1.1º F/Century (0.6º C/Century), but the rate
of temperature increase has been three times larger since 1976, with
some of the largest temperature increases occurring in the high latitudes.
the global warmth in 2005, a new record was established in September
for the lowest Arctic sea ice extent since satellite monitoring began
in the late 1970s, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
This is part of a continuing trend in end-of-summer Arctic sea ice
extent reductions of approximately 8 percent per decade since 1979.