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Paul Yeager

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Record-Breaking Warmth, Precipitation, and Drought Highlight 2011 Weather Extremes

Posted: 01/15/12 03:59 PM ET

Climatologists are still collecting and analyzing the cumulative weather data from 2011, with the official Climate Prediction Center's Annual Climate Report scheduled for release on January 19; however, the preliminary report indicates what we already knew: 2011 was a dramatic weather year across the United States.

Nearly two dozen reporting sites, extending from Kentucky to northern New England, reported their wettest years on record on 2011, while a few locations in Texas reported their driest years on record. The warmest year on record was recorded in spotty locations in the deep south and New Jersey.

Records date back 117 years.

2012-01-15-2011_extremes_cities.png
(Image courtesy of NOAA)

Lubbock, Wichita Falls, and Amarillo were the Texas cities that had less rainfall in 2010 than at any other time since records began, and much of Texas remains in the throes of an extreme to exceptional drought, the worst categories. Lubbock had less than six inches of rain (5.86), which broke the previous annual low of 8.73 inches set in 1970.

Cities that had the most rain in any given calendar year included highly populated regions in the Northeast and mid-Altantic regions, such as Philadelphia, New York City (LaGuardia Airport), and Hartford. One of the more impressive records occurred in the Ohio Valley, where Cincinnati accumulated 73.28 inches of rain, which nearly doubled the annual average of 39.57.

The states with cities that either tied or established records for the warmest year were Arizona, Texas, New Jersey, and Florida. Record-breaking cities included Atlantic City, West Palm Beach, and Miami.

From a national perspective, preliminary data indicates that the contiguous United States had an average temperature of 1.0 degrees Fahrenheit higher than average, which placed the year in the top third in terms of warmest on record.

I'll post more information when the annual climate report is released later this week.