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Record December boosts 2015 to second-warmest year

Record December boosts 2015 to second-warmest year
Ten U.S. weather events cause losses exceeding $1 billion in 2015.

The 2015 annual average U.S. temperature was 54.4°F, which is 2.4°F above the 20th-century average and the second-warmest year on record, according to a newly released National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report. In fact, only 2012 was warmer in the U.S., with an average temperature of 55.3°F.

“This is the 19th consecutive year the annual average temperature exceeded the 20th-century average," NOAA noted. “The first part of the year was marked by extreme warmth in the West and cold in the East, but by the end of 2015, record warmth spanned the East, with near-average temperatures across the West. This temperature pattern resulted in every state having an above-average annual temperature.”

Average precipitation for the contiguous U.S. was 34.47 in. — 4.53 in. above average — and ranked as the third wettest year in the 121-year period of record. Only 1973 and 1983 were wetter, NOAA said.

“The central and southeastern U.S. were much wetter than average, while parts of the West and Northeast were drier than average,” NOAA said, adding that the national drought footprint shrank about 10% during the course of the year.

In 2015, there were 10 weather and climate disaster events, each with losses exceeding $1 billion. These events included a drought, two floods, five severe storms, a wildfire event and a winter storm. Overall, the events resulted in 155 human deaths and had significant economic effects. Further cost figures on individual events in 2015 will be updated when data are finalized later this year, NOAA said.

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