Climate: U.S. cools off a bit in May

Year-to-date the fourth-warmest on record

May 2016 temperature map
For the first time in a while, several states reported cooler than average temperatures in the monthly state of the climate report.

Staff Report

After a string of record and near-record warm months, the contiguous U.S. cooled off a bit in May. More than 10 states, mostly in the midsection of the country, reported a monthly temperature lower than the 20th century average, according to the latest state of the climate report from NOAA.

For the lower 48 states together, the May temperature was just 0.1 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average, putting it near the middle of the 122-year record. The northern tier of states reported above average temperatures, with record warmth reported from Washington.

But it was a different story in Alaska, where record-breaking warmth prevailed throughout the spring. The state cross a dubious climate threshold for the March-May period, with average temperature for the three months soaring to 32 degrees Fahrenheit — the first time the state’s average spring temperature was at the freezing mark. The temperature beat the old record, set in 1998, by a full 2 degrees Fahrenheit.

The spring season (March-May) was the sixth-warmest on record for the contiguous 48 states, and the warmest since 2012. Every single state reported an average spring temperature warmer than the 20th century average. The warmest region of the country was the Pacific Northwest, where Washington reported its second-warmest spring, while Oregon had its third warmest.


Precipitation was also above normal for the season. When averaged across the contiguous U.S., the national precipitation total of 9.03 inches was 1.09 inches above the 20th century average and registered as the nation’s 18th wettest spring in the 122-year record.

The year-to-date has been the fourth-warmest for the lower 48 states, at 3.2 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average. Every state was warmer than average for the first five months of the year.

Every state was warmer than average for the period.







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