2013 was warmer and wetter than average for the U.S.

Posted Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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The U.S. was warmer and wetter than average in 2013, according to weather and climate data released Wednesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The average temperature for the lower 48 states was 54.2 degrees, tying with 1980 as the 37th warmest year in the 119-year period of record. That was 2.9 degrees lower than in 2012, which was the nation’s warmest year on record.

Texas was near normal for the year with an average temperature of 65.1 degrees, just 0.1 degrees above average, making it the 61st warmest out of 119 years. By comparison, 1976 was the coolest on record with an average temperature of 63 degrees.

The average precipitation across the contiguous United States was 31.17 inches, which was 2.03 inches above the 20th century average. It was the 21st wettest year on record and the wettest since 2009. In stark contrast was 2012, the 18th driest on record.

Rainfall in Texas was also near average at 27.39 inches, 0.53 inches below normal, making it the 61st wettest year. The driest on record for the state was the 14.99 inches recorded in 1917. The wettest was 1919 when 41.93 inches were recorded.

Wild weather across the nation was also low compared with 2012. There were seven $1 billion weather and climate disasters compared to 11 in 2012.

Those seven 2013 events included five severe weather and tornado events, a major flood and the western drought/heat wave. All told, these events killed 109 people. Damage amounts will not be available until later this year.

The number of tornadoes and hurricanes were both below average.

A preliminary tornado count of 891 could be the lowest since 1989 when 856 tornadoes were recorded. The 1991-2010 tornado average is 1,253.

There were 54 tornado-related fatalities. May was the deadliest tornado month of the year, with 41 reported fatalities.

The North Atlantic Hurricane season had 13 named storms, two hurricanes and no major hurricanes. The last time only two hurricanes were recorded was in 1982.

Three seasons — the winter of 2012-13, summer and fall — were warmer than average. It was the coolest spring for the nation since 1996 with temperatures 5.6 degrees cooler than spring 2012.

No state had a record warm or cool year. But numerous locations across California and Florida had their warmest years on record and many places across the Plains and Mid-South had their coolest year on record.

Ten states had rainfall totals ranked among the 10 highest on record. Michigan had its wettest year with 40.12 inches of rain, 8.9 inches above average. North Dakota also had its wettest year with 24.54 inches, 7.18 inches above average.

By the end of 2013, 31 percent of the U.S. was experiencing drought, down from 61 percent at the beginning of the year.

But portions of the West remain parched. California had its driest year on record with just 7.38 inches of precipitation, 15.13 inches below average. According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, 88 percent of the state is now in severe drought.

In Texas, where much of the state has been in drought for three years, only 21 percent remains in severe drought, down from 66 percent a year ago.

Steve Campbell, 817-390-7981 Twitter: @stevecamp

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