January 2006 Warmest on Record in U.S. and Australia

02.07.06  
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January 8.5 Deg. F higher than historical norm in U.S., 3.5 Deg higher in AU

NOAA

Worldwide, January 2006 was hotter than ever before in recorded meteorogial history. Global warming is real, and we must plan for its consequences and take steps to mitigate it.

USA

The United States had its warmest January on record, with an average temperature of 39.5 degrees F, which is 8.5 degrees F (4.7 degrees C) above the 1895-2005 mean of 31.0 degrees F, according to the NOAA National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. The higher than average temperatures resulted in a record low value of a temperature-related residential energy demand index NOAA regularly calculates for the nation.

The jet stream remained unusually far to the north during January 2006, trapping cold air in Canada and Alaska, while allowing relatively warm Pacific air to influence the temperatures across the contiguous U.S. This led to the nationally warm conditions. The jet stream is currently giving way to a more typical winter pattern, according to the NOAA Climate Prediction Center. The February outlook calls for below normal temperatures in the mid-Atlantic, the Southeast, and the inter-mountain West, and above-normal temperatures in the Southwest, the northern Plains and Alaska.

Throughout January 2006, none of the contiguous U.S. experienced below-average temperatures. Each state was warmer than the long-term mean. Fifteen states in the northern Plains, Great Lakes and Midwest had record high temperatures for the month, with an additional 26 states having temperatures much above average. More than 74 percent of the country was classified as "much above normal" when compared to the 1961-1990 climate normal.

Only twice since 1895 has more than 74% of the nation had a much above-normal temperature--March 1910 and November 1999. None of the contiguous U.S. fell into the "much below normal" category last month. The second warmest January on record was in 1953, which was 2.3 degrees F cooler than January 2006.

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Australia

In January NSW experienced its warmest month ever recorded with the state experiencing a mean temperature 3.5 degrees above the January average1 of 24.7¼C. It is also the tenth consecutive month of above average mean temperatures for the state. The temperatures were generally highest inland with a large portion of the Murray Darling basin recording the highest mean temperatures on record.

The statewide average maximum temperature for January was 35.2¼C, the second highest on record and 3.5 degrees above the average of 31.7¼C. Most of the state, including all of the inland west of the ranges, recorded very much above average maximum temperatures with the far northwest of NSW experiencing the highest mean January maximum temperatures on record. The only areas of the state to record close to average maximum temperatures were the Metropolitan and Illawarra districts

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