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NOAA: US experiences second warmest May, hottest spring on record

The average temperature for the contiguous US during May was 64.3°F (17.9 °C), 3.3 °F above the long-term average, making it the second warmest May on record, according to the May/Spring Monthly Climate Report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The month’s high temperatures also contributed to the warmest spring, warmest year-to-date, and warmest 12-month period the nation has experienced since record keeping began in 1895.

The spring season’s (March-May) nationally-averaged temperature was 57.1°F (13.9 °C), 5.2 °F above the 1901-2000 long-term average, surpassing the previous warmest spring (1910) by 2.0 °F.

Precipitation totals across the country were mixed during May, with the nation as a whole being drier than average. The nationally-averaged precipitation total of 2.51 inches was 0.36 inch below average. The coastal Southeast received some drought relief when Tropical Storm Beryl brought heavy rains to the region late in the month.

Warmer-than-average temperatures occurred across all parts of the contiguous U.S., except the Northwest, during May. Twenty-six states had May temperatures ranking among their ten warmest.

Warmest 12-month periods on record for the contiguous United States. During the June 2011-May 2012 period, each of the 12 months ranked among the warmest third of their historical distribution for the first time in the 1895-present record. The odds of this occurring randomly is 1 in 531,441, according to NOAA. Click to enlarge.




Dave R

The real news here isn't that it's a new record - but by how much the new record beats the last one. One can easily see that the current record of 3.18 *F above normal is a LOT higher than than the previous record set in Nov'99- Oct'00 time period...


are we finally experiencing AGW?


Must be the Sun acting up or is it the Moon?


But----But----Al Gore is fat!


Yes right and I just had to run my domestic heating system a few days ago at the beginning of June. First time I did that so far into late spring since moving to Boston 43 years ago.


I was able to shut off my heating system for a number of days in March.  I even had my windows open.

Increased variability is one of the predictions of the climate models.  Do I need to point out that those predictions are all coming true?

Nick Lyons

At some point it's going to be obvious to everyone who doesn't live in a cave (real or virtual) that climate change is happening at an accelerating pace. One can only hope that this point is not the point of no return.

Nick Lyons

At some point it's going to be obvious to everyone who doesn't live in a cave (real or virtual) that climate change is happening at an accelerating pace. One can only hope that this point is not the point of no return.


Yes E-P, increasing variability with an overall warming trend is also coming true. Our home (45.1 North) is 100% electric and our e-energy consumption (in Kwh/year) has been progressively going down every year for the last 10+ years. However, we have noted that warm weather is sometime rather late but last much longer into October and even November. The year round average in warmer by almost 3.5C to 4.5C with very few hours/days below -20C. Our heat pumps are becoming more and more effective.


Trying to draw conclusion about AGW based on one season's trends in a small portion of the globe (CONUS) is a little premature, isn't it? A more or less persistent upper ridge over the central and eastern CONUS was the main reason for the warm temps. Whether that persistent upper ridge is related to AGW is at best speculation.

At least the trend of the entire globe needs to be considered, and even then, a seasonal trend isn't necessarily a climate trend.


Carl...I have been around for many decades and the climate is changing North of USA and further North, it has changed even more since the late 1950s. The vast majority of our homes are 100% electric and most of us have to admit that we require less and less e-energy for heating. The energy saved in winter time has not yet taken up by extra A/C in summer time.

I must admit that the arrival of very high performance Heat Pumps are a contributing factor for lower energy consumption by much warmer winters have contributed even more.


Harvey - that's still anecdotal.

I've been around for many decades too (just retired from NOAA (National Weather Service)). I do agree that winters seem to be warmer recently compared to winters many decades ago, but I don't know if that will be a permanent trend. E-P may have faith in climate models, but I don't.


Carl, I agree: We can't draw conclusions about AGW based on one season's trends in a small portion of the globe. However this report is not a one-off, GCC has been posting Monthly Climate Reports (from NOAA as well as others) for years now and when taken together we see see a warming trend.

But if you need to see all the temperature readings together in a graph;


@ ai vin,

As I mentioned, I worked as an operational meteorologist for the NWS for the past 14 years, and I've been dealing with those data on a daily basis for the whole time I was there.

I'm not arguing those climate trend data anyway, just that nothing can be assumed from one season's data in the CONUS, which is what this blog post was about.

Roger Pham

Just another data point to make a longer hockey stick!


I'm sorry Carl, I did not know that. [It took me longer to find and post those links than I thought it would and your last post must have slipped in while I was typing.]

However my statement still stands: I DO agree with you that we can't draw conclusions about AGW based on one season's trends in a small portion of the globe. And as I said, this report is not a one-off. GCC has been posting Monthly Climate Reports for years and when taken together we do see a pattern of warming.

Or, as Roger puts it so well, it's just another data point in the hockey stick.


@ Roger and ai vin - agreed, it's a data point.


Along comes an unseasonal cold spell such as a cool April in the UK and people write it off as "weather".

Along comes a hot spell in May with close to record temperatures and it becomes "global warming".

People (of any bias)go for what ever side of the fence suits them best when making points.


Scott, a cold spell or hot spell ARE both just weather.

It's how they fit in a trend line of other cold/hot spells year after year that make it climate change.


It's also how the record highs outnumber the record lows.



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