U.S. Has Warmest And Wettest January-February Ever
By Tom Doggett
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The first two months of 1998 were the warmest and wettest on record for the lower 48 U.S. states, based on 104 years of weather data, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Monday.
``These record-breaking statistics are generally consistent with both a strong El Nino and climate model projections of a continuing trend toward a warmer and wetter world as greenhouse gases continue to increase,'' said Tom Karl, senior scientist at the NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.
The national average temperature during the January-February period was 37.5 degrees Fahrenheit , compared with a normal 32.1 degrees, the NOAA said. The previous record was 37.0 degrees in 1990.
Precipitation in the continental U.S. averaged 6.01 inches during the period, almost two inches above normal, breaking the old record of 5.7 inches set in 1979, the NOAA said.
However, overall temperatures and precipitation for the December-February winter period were not as extreme. That period was the second warmest and seventh wettest on record, the NOAA said.
California and North Dakota had their wettest February on record, while Florida, Maryland, Nevada, Rhode Island and Virginia had their second wettest February since 1895, according to the NOAA.
The warmest February on record occurred in much of the upper Midwest and parts of the East, including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, the NOAA said.
The temperature and precipitation patterns that have dominated much of the winter months are expected to continue through March and April, the NOAA said.
``In the summer, at least slightly warmer than normal conditions are expected across Southern California, the southwest and much of the East Coast. There are no strong indications for either above or below normal precipitation across the country (during the period),'' the NOAA said.

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