World had 4th warmest January, even as Eastern U.S. froze


It certainly didn't feel this way in much of the eastern U.S., but across the globe, January 2014 was the 4th warmest January on record.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported Thursday that Earth was 1.17 degrees warmer in January than the 20th century average. Since records began in 1880, only 2002, 2003 and 2007 started off warmer than this year. 

 Almost all of Africa, South America and Australia, along with most of Asia and Europe, were considerably  warmer than normal. China and France had their second warmest Januaries. Nations of the Southern Hemisphere had their hottest January on record. California had its third-warmest January on record. Anchorage, Alaska actually had a warmer month than Baltimore, Maryland, by 2 degrees.


 While the polar vortex left more than half of America shivering last month, it was one of the few populated spots on Earth cooler than normal, and no state had its coldest January on record. 

Looking ahead, forecasters are seeing a large area of temperatures much below normal starting midweek in the upper Midwest and then plunging south.

The polar vortex is a high-altitude wind pattern that normally keeps Arctic air bottled up in northern Canada and around the North Pole. In January, a big chunk broke off and allowed that ultra-chilly air to meander south. That's likely to happen again next week, said meteorologist Dan Collins of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, but it won't be quite as frigid as the deep freeze of early January, 

The national forecast for March through May predicts no drought relief in the West and cooler than normal temperatures in the upper Midwest. Warmer temperatures in the Southwest in March are expected to spread across the entire South in April and May.