Temps Mellow, Precipitation Varies Across U.S. in 2013

NOAA weather overview provides year-end precipitation and temperature averages; drought overview

Published on: Jan 16, 2014

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's 2013 year-end weather report was decidedly less dramatic than the review of 2012, citing fewer record high temperatures and a more favorable drought situation for most areas.

The review, released Wednesday, found that 2013's average temperature of 52.4 degrees Fahrenheit tied it with 1980 as the 37th warmest year in the 119-year period of record.

The average temperature was 2.9 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the 2012 average temperature of 55.3 degrees F, which earned 2012 the title of warmest year on record for the nation.

No state had annual temperatures that ranked among the ten warmest, even though above-average temperatures in 2013 were observed in parts of the West, Northeast, and in Florida.

NOAA weather overview provides year-end precipitation, temperature averages
NOAA weather overview provides year-end precipitation, temperature averages

Below-average annual temperatures were observed from the Northern Plains, through the Central Plains and Midwest.

Precipitation review

On a statewide and seasonal level, the review said, 2013 was a year of precipitation extremes. Overall, much of the contiguous U.S. was wetter than average, particularly east of the Rockies.

The largest precipitation departures from average were observed in the Northern Plains, the Upper Midwest, and the Southeast. In total, 10 states had annual precipitation totals that ranked among the 10 wettest years on record.

In contrast, portions of the West were dry. California had its driest calendar year on record with 7.38 inches of precipitation, 15.13 inches below average. This was 2.42 inches below the previous record dry year of 1898, the review said.

Overall, average precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. in 2013 was 31.17 inches, 2.03 inches above the 20th century average. This marked the 21st wettest year on record and the wettest since 2009.

Drought improves

In terms of drought, conditions improved across much of the southeastern and central U.S. during 2013, but deteriorated in the Far West and Northeast. At the end of 2013, about 31% of the contiguous U.S. was experiencing drought, down from 61.1% at the beginning of the year.

Temps Mellow, Precipitation Varies Across U.S. in 2013

Extreme events

In 2013, the U.S. experienced seven weather and climate disaster events, each with losses exceeding $1 billion in damages. These events included five severe weather and tornado events, a major flood event, and the western drought and heat wave. Overall, these events killed 109 people and delivered significant economic effects.

During 2013, there were 742 confirmed tornadoes during the January-September period, with 149 preliminary tornado reports still pending for October-December according to NOAA's Storm Prediction Center. Depending on the final confirmation rate, this could be the slowest tornado year since 1989 when 856 tornados were confirmed, the report said.

Temps Mellow, Precipitation Varies Across U.S. in 2013

View the complete overview on NOAA's website.