Alaska had warmest year ever recorded in 2019: US report

The US government report finding comes as the EU says the world had its second hottest year on the books.

    The US state of Alaska experienced its warmest year on record in 2019 [File: Yereth Rosen/Reuters]
    The US state of Alaska experienced its warmest year on record in 2019 [File: Yereth Rosen/Reuters]

    The US state of Alaska had its warmest year on record in 2019, according to a government report released on Wednesday about the climate in the United States.

    The most northwestern state of the continental United States, Alaska's average temperature was 0.1 degree Celsius (32.18 degrees Fahrenheit) in 2019, above the long-term average of -3.3 degrees Celsius (26.06 degrees Fahrenheit), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Centers for Environmental Information said in the annual report.

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    Average temperatures have risen steadily in Alaska in recent years, with four of the last six years experiencing record warmth. Alaska's previous record average was set in 2016.

    In Anchorage, Alaska's largest city, the temperature hit 32.2 degrees Celsius (89.96 degrees Fahrenheit) for the first time on record in July. 

    The average temperature in the contiguous US, 11.5 degrees Celsius (52.7 degrees Fahrenheit), was the lowest since 2014 but was still warmer than 11.1 degrees Celsius (51.98 degrees Fahrenheit) average for the entire 20th century.

    Southeastern states, including Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, South Carolina and Virginia, each experienced either their warmest or second warmest years.

    Weather-related disasters more than doubled

    The contiguous United States also experienced its second wettest year on record in 2019, with annual precipitation at 88.34 cm (34.78 inches), 12.29 cm (4.84 inches) above average. The total was 0.46 cm (0.18 inch) less than the record set in 1973, the report said.

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    The Midwest was particularly wet, with North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan each experiencing their wettest years on record.

    The US report also noted that, in the last decade, the country experienced 119 weather and climate disasters in which the overall damages and costs reached over one billion dollars, more than double the 59 such disasters the country experienced in the previous decade, the report said.

    Meanwhile, the European Union's climate monitor said on Wednesday that 2019 was the second hottest year ever recorded globally, just 0.04 degrees Celsius (32.072 degrees Fahrenheit) lower than 2016, when temperatures were boosted 0.12 degrees (32.216 degrees Fahrenheit) due to a once-in-a-century El Nino natural weather event. 

    In the five years since 2016, every year has been warmer than the last, according to data from the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S).

    SOURCE: News agencies