Winter 2018-2019 Climate Digest

The December 2018 to February 2019 average temperature across the global land and ocean surface was the fourth highest since records began in 1880. Averaged as a whole, the temperature for meteorological winter was 0.84°C (1.51°F) above the 20th century average.

The global ocean-only temperature was the second highest on record.

In spite of an extreme Arctic blast in late January, the United States had a warmer than normal winter during December through February, with southeast states much warmer than normal.

Meanwhile the winter precipitation total was more than 2 inches above average, making this past winter the wettest winter on record for the contiguous United States.

To better understand our wet winter, this climate digest includes a 3-month display of “total precipitable water” (TPW) measured by polar-orbiting satellites, revealing moisture plumes in our atmosphere. Several atmospheric rivers can be seen flowing onto the U.S. west coast. Not surprisingly, California experienced record rains and above normal snowpack in the mountains. The good news is that California has been declared drought-free for the first time since December 2011! The bad news involved flooding along California’s Russian River, which crested at its highest level since 1995.

Record rainfall also resulted in flooding along the Mississippi River and Tennessee Valley this past winter.

In addition, multiple snowfall records were set in northern states from Washington to Wisconsin. In Eau Claire Wisconsin, February 2019 set an all-time record for the snowiest of any month on record, surpassing the previous record by more than 21 inches!

While watching the TPW loop look for 2 tropical cyclones swirling on either side of the equator near Australia. They are Typhoon Wutip spinning counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and Tropical Storm Oma spinning clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere, opposite rotations due to the Coriolis effect.

The quarterly climate digest, produced seasonally, consists of a short movie (4:21 minutes) made for Science On a Sphere® (SOS) and an MP4 video accessible through YouTube.

You can download the SOS content from this FTP Site.

Content includes:
– Global 3-month averaged temperatures
– 3-month Sea Surface Temperature (SST) anomalies (showing El Niño conditions)
– 3-month Total Precipatable Water (TPW) imagery


EarthNow Team
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(NOAA)

Monthly state of the climate reports are available from NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) Climate Global Analysis and National Overview at


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