Would you believe it was the warmest May on record?

You wouldn’t know it from recent weather along the West Coast, but the month of May this year was the warmest May ever recorded across the globe, according to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.

NOAA graphic / Click to enlarge

Worldwide, the average land temperature for May was 1.87 degrees F. higher than May’s long-term average of 52 degrees. That makes it the warmest May ever recorded.

On the ocean, meanwhile, surface temperatures averaged .99 degree F. above the average of 61.3 degrees. That makes it the second warmest May on record, behind only May of 1998.

In Western Washington, we had a cool, wet May — the third coolest in the last 25 years, as Kitsap Sun reporter Ed Friedrich reported at the beginning of the month. That just goes to show again that regional weather may have little bearing on global climate.

According to NCDC, warm temperatures in May were present over most of the world’s land masses — the warmest areas being Eastern North America, Eastern Brazil, Eastern Europe, Southern Asia, Eastern Russia and Equatorial Africa. Numerous locations in Ontario, Canada, had their warmest May on record.

Besides the West Coast, cool areas in May included Northern Argentina, Interior Asia and Western Europe. Germany had its coolest May since 1991 and its 12th coolest May on record.

The period of March through May also brought record highs for the combined land and ocean surface temperatures across the Earth. See the news release for details.

Arctic sea ice was 3.7 percent below the 1979-2000 average and melted 50 percent faster than the average May melting rate, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Antarctic sea ice was 7.3 percent above the 1979-2000 average, resulting in the fourth largest extent on record for the month of May.

4 thoughts on “Would you believe it was the warmest May on record?

  1. Unfortunately, there is nothing surprising about these results. They were predicted last year by both NOAA and NASA. You’d think this information plus the Gulf disaster would lead to some policies to begin dealing with this issue seriously, but I’m not optimistic.

  2. Cameron,

    You say these results were “predicted” last year? I’m wondering what you mean. I was not aware that anybody has the capability of predicting the weather a year in advance.

    I’ve always heard climatologists stress that while the long-term temperature trend is upward, what happens month-to-month can be quite variable. Are you just saying that it is not surprising that we occasionally have record-high months for temperature?

  3. I mean that climatologists had predicted that 2010 would be the warmest year on record based on the warming trend (and a strong el Nino), therefore it is not surprising to find that the current Jan-May temps are the warmest on record.

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