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The 10 Hottest U.S. Years on Record

By Climate Central

2017 finished as the third-hottest year in the U.S. since NOAA records began in 1895, with an average temperature 2.56°F above the 20th century mean.

Additional stats:

  • The four hottest years on record have come in the decade of the 2010s
  • Of the 10 hottest years on record, only two came before 1998 (1934, 1921)
  • The hottest locations, relative to normal, were in the Southeast and Southwest
  • Five states had their hottest year on record

Some cities had their hottest year on record, including Albuquerque, Cleveland, Dallas, Phoenix, and Tampa. Moreover, the U.S. is having its warmest consecutive 24, 36, and 48 months on record, with more than 33,000 record highs set in each of the last three years. This total dwarfs the number of record lows set in that three-year period at a rate of 3.6-to-1. This warmth has been nearly independent of phase of the El Niño, as both warm and cold phases of the Pacific ocean phenomenon have occurred during that time.

Oceans play a dominant role in the earth’s long term temperature, with 93 percent of the energy from human-caused warming going into them. Even with the recent cold spell in the eastern half of the U.S., the ocean temperature in parts of the North Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico remains 2-5°F above the late 20th century average.

Methodology: National and statewide data provided by NOAA (State of the Climate), with individual city rankings calculated with daily average temperature data from the Applied Climate Information System. Current SST anomalies from Climate Analyzer. Record temperature data information comes from former Weather Channel meteorologist Guy Walton’s database based on NOAA NCEI data.