After the warmest year on record for Texas, 2012, and the third-warmest year, 2011, last year provided a brief respite from the heat. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Texas saw near-normal temperatures in 2013. The average temperature for the year was 65.1 Fahrenheit, or 0.1 F warmer than normal.
So has global warming stopped? Not at all. Year-to-year fluctuations in temperature are expected due to natural variability in the climate system, especially at a regional level, said Andrew Dressler, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M.
“One year (or even a decade) doesn’t tell you much,” he wrote in an email. “Look at the last 30 years and it’s pretty clear what’s happening.”
The period from 2009 to 2013 was the warmest five-year stretch ever on record for Texas, according to Victor Murphy, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
Although the U.S. endured some bitterly cold weather in December, globally it was actually the third-warmest December on record.
And 2013 was hardly a cool year overall for the United States and the planet.
In the continental U.S., the average temperature of 52.4 F was 0.3 F above the 20th century average and was tied with 1980 as the 37th warmest year, out of a 119-year record.
Globally, 2013 tied with 2003 as the 4th warmest year, according to NOAA. (Seventh according to NASA, which takes a slightly different approach.) It was the 37th consecutive year with temperatures above the 20th century average.