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Hottest Ever Year?

January 18, 2013

By Paul Homewood




Last year has been officially declared the hottest on record for the US. Maybe it is, maybe it’s not. But it would be natural to assume that, as a result, lots of temperature records would have been broken. Indeed it would also be natural to assume that records would have been broken regularly in recent years, if temperatures have been rising.

The answer to both assumptions, however, is an emphatic no.

The NCDC keep a database of state records for each state for temperature, rainfall, etc. Each record must be formally approved by the State Climate Extremes Committee, a body specially set up for this purpose. Each potential new record is examined closely by them, to ensure that the measurements are genuine and unaffected by non climatic factors, such as poor siting. Therefore each state record has been individually validated, no matter how old, as they explain:-

The SCEC will compile a list of the extant records listed in Table 1 for each state of the United States. These records will be reviewed to determine their validity and, if found to be acceptable, will be recommended to the NCDC Director for inclusion in the statewide records data set. As of April, 2010 NCDC has reviewed and updated the statewide extremes tables for all-time maximum and minimum temperature, 24-hr precipitation and snowfall, and all-time greatest snow depth.

The chart above analyses the all time state maximum temperature records. Including ties, there are 73 records. (Where there are two ties recorded on the same day, I have only logged one.)

As many other exercises have shown, the vast majority of state records were set in the 1930’s. But is is also significant that so few have been set in the last few years. Last year, only one record was broken, when 113F was recorded in Columbia, South Carolina. The only other record broken/tied since 1996 was in South Dakota in 2006, and this was a tie with 1936.


The US may be getting warmer on average, but it does not seem to be getting any hotter.




The full list of records is here.


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