Globally it’s easily been the hottest start to any year (January-February), beating the previous records (2002, 2007) by 0.07°F.
This was the second warmest February globally, and “slightly below” the 20th-century average in the contiguous U.S.
Note: For NOAA, winter is the “meteorological winter” (December 2014 to February 2015).
As the NOAA map above shows, other than the “cooler than average” northeast, this winter has been “warmer than average” and “much warmer than average” and “record warmest” over every other land area in the world.
In particular, many Western states saw their hottest winter on record — which is not a surprise if you live in drought-stricken California or its neighbors:
Where this winter ranks (by state) in the 120-year NOAA record. A “120” means it was the hottest winter on record for that state.
Now entering its fourth year, the drought in California is so bad that NASA senior water scientist Jay Famiglietti warned that “the state has only about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs, and our strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing.” Global warming-driven record heat has made this the worst California drought in 1200 years, as scientists explained in December.
The Earth keeps setting the record for the hottest 12 months in the surface temperature record, as we reported Saturday. NOAA’s global data show we’ve started this year at a record pace — and early indications are that March will be warm globally — so we are on track for what is likely to be the hottest calendar year on record.