While the United States has had a relatively mild winter to date, the winter has been exceptionally harsh in much of Europe, especially Eastern Europe in recent weeks. What does all of this say about global temperatures?
The answer to that question is never as simple as what the weather is at my house or what the weather is in one region experiencing an extreme. It takes time to collect and analyze global data, and with the large variation between warm and cold across just the Northern Hemisphere, it will be interesting to see how the overall global temperature in January and February compares to recent years.
In other words, it will be interesting to see whether the cold or warm wins the tug-of-war.
We already have the NOAA statistics for the U.S. for January, where it was that 4th warmest for the contiguous U.S. We do not yet have the global stats for January, which should be released for NOAA within days, but the global January stats will be as influenced by the most recent European cold spell as February stats will be since the cold started late in January but has continued well into February.
I will post the January and February global stats after they are released, and I will use the same NOAA reports that I've used here in the past for the sake of consistency.
For the record, I'm a meteorologist, not a climate scientist, so I'm merely discussing the statistics, not making an editorial comment about climate change.
Extremely Harsh Eastern European Winter
News coverage in the U.S.tends to be U.S.-centric, so I have not seen an abundance of coverage on the European cold, but here are a few highlights from a Washington Post article (Heavy snow for days cuts of thousands in eastern Romania; military planes transport food) of what is a growing humanitarian crisis:
Last week, the Telegraph reported that temperatures had hit -40 degrees F in Finland.