Contact: John Leslie
NOAA News Releases 2005
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This spring, cooler-than-average temperatures prevailed throughout much of the eastern U.S., according to scientists at the NOAA National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. However, for the contiguous United States, temperatures between March through May were warmer than average, especially in western and north-central states. Drier-than-average conditions were widespread from the south-central U.S. to the Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic. The global average temperature was the second warmest on record for March-May.

U.S. Temperatures:
Based on preliminary data, the NCDC reports that the average spring temperature for the contiguous United States was 52.4°F (11.3°C), which was 0.5°F (0.3°C) above the 1895 - 2004 mean. The mean temperature in 19 states, located mostly in the northern Plains and West, was above average, while 14 states in the east were cooler than average during the spring. It was the second-warmest spring on record in Alaska, dating back to 1918, and the second year in a row that a new record was established for the month of May. Ten states along the eastern seaboard were much colder than the long-term mean in May.

U.S. Precipitation:
Spring precipitation was near average for the contiguous United States. Much wetter-than-average conditions in Florida, New England and much of the West contrasted with unusually dry conditions in a region stretching from Texas and Louisiana to the Upper Midwest and mid-Atlantic. Nevada and Idaho had their second wettest spring on record, and Oregon, its third wettest spring, while seven states from Oklahoma to Michigan and Wisconsin were much drier than average.

Above average spring precipitation in much of the Southwest followed an unusually wet winter for the region. But in the Northwest, where this was the second wettest spring on record, the above-average rain and snowfall helped lessen drought conditions that worsened during an extremely dry winter. Moderate-to-extreme drought (as defined by a widely used measure of drought – the Palmer Drought Index) affected 41 percent of the Northwest (Wash., Ore., Idaho, Mont., Wyo.) at the end of spring, compared to 63 percent at the end of winter. Although this reflects a significant improvement, severe long-term precipitation deficits remain. Snowpack, one of the major sources of water for the region, was less than 50 percent of average during much of spring across large portions of the northwestern United States.

Global Temperatures:
The average global temperature for combined land and ocean surfaces during March-May (based on preliminary data) was 1.1°F (0.6°C) above the 1880-2004 long-term mean. This was the second-warmest March - May period since 1880 (the beginning of reliable instrumental records). Above-average temperatures occurred across much of Asia, northwestern Africa, western Europe, Australia, Canada and the western U.S. Colder-than-average conditions occurred in eastern Europe and southern Scandinavia, eastern U.S., Japan and parts of India. El Niño/La Niña conditions transitioned from a weak warm phase (El Niño) to near-neutral conditions during the spring.

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