By Jason Samenow December 15, 2016
It’s frigid outside over large parts of the United States, but the planet is still warming, as evidenced by a near record-warm November for the globe.
Temperatures in parts of the Arctic averaged more than 20 degrees above normal, as Earth recorded its second warmest November since 1880 (when records began).
NASA data show the planet’s temperature was 1.7 degrees above the 1951-1980 November average, and just slightly cooler than November 2015 — the record-setter (at 1.8 degrees above average).
NASA data show ... 2016’s average November global land temperature was the warmest on record, 2.3 degrees above average, the data indicate.
An analysis of surface temperatures from Berkeley Earth, an independent team of scientists, also concluded the November average global land temperature was the warmest on record.
With the lone exception of Siberia, where frigid air piled up during November, land areas around the world were abnormally warm.
The warmth in the Arctic was particularly breathtaking, at one point soaring 36 degrees above normal north of 80 degrees latitude.
Feeding into the Arctic warmth was profoundly depleted sea ice, which hit its lowest extent on record by far, stunning scientists.
The Lower 48 states were also unusually mild, having their second-warmest November on record, which closed off their top warmest meteorological fall.
National Overview - November 2016
The contiguous U.S. average November temperature was 48.0°F, which was 6.3°F above the 20th century average. This was the second warmest November in the 122-year period of record, behind November 1999 (48.1°F).
Every state in the Lower 48 experienced an average temperature that was at least above average. Idaho, North Dakota and Washington were record warm in November. North Dakota's average temperature was 12.8°F above normal, nearly 2.0°F above the previous record set in 1999. Near-record warmth blanketed the western half of the country where 15 states had their second or third warmest November. Alaska was slightly above normal, at 1.7°F above their 92-year period of record.
Since 1970, the average November temperature for the contiguous U.S. has been warming at a rate of 6.6°F per century. Only January (10.5°F per century) is warming at a faster rate.
During November there were 7,491 record warm daily high (4,537) and low (2,954) temperature records. This was more than 40 times the 181 record cold daily high (87) and low (94) temperature records.
Based on NOAA's Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index (REDTI), the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand during November was 6.7, the third lowest value on record, and a reflection of reduced heating requirements due to above-normal temperatures.
November was drier than normal nationally, and especially so east of the Mississippi. Of the nation's 168 climate divisions that are east of the river, only two, both in Minnesota, observed above normal precipitation for the month.
Wildfire activity was higher than normal during November. Many of the fires were concentrated in the drought-stricken areas of the Southeast. Nationally, the number of fires for the month was the second highest since records began in 2000. The 8,560 fires were only behind the 10,223 fires in 2001. There were a total of 275,616 acres burned, the fourth most on record.
Climate Highlights — autumn (Sep-Nov)
The contiguous U.S. average temperature for September-November was 57.6°F, 4.1°F above the 20th century average, the warmest autumn period on record for the second consecutive year. The previous record from 2015 was 56.8°F.
The U.S. Climate Extremes Index (USCEI) for autumn was 115 percent above average, the highest value on record. On the national scale, extremes in warm maximum and minimum temperatures and one-day precipitation totals were much above average. The USCEI is an index that tracks extremes (falling in the upper or lower 10 percent of the record) in temperature, precipitation, land-falling tropical cyclones and drought across the contiguous U.S.
Climate Highlights — January-November
The January-November temperature, averaged across the contiguous U.S., was 56.9°F for 2016, the second warmest value on record. The warmest on record is 2012, at 57.0°F.