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Not So Hot: 2014 Was Only 34th Warmest Year on Record for U.S.

Turns out America's weather in 2014 wasn't really that bad. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday that the U.S. average temperature last year was half a degree warmer than normal and weather was less disastrous and drought-struck than previous years. While 2014 was warmer than 2013 in the lower 48 states, it was still only the 34th warmest on record. That contrasts with the experience of the world as a whole. Globally, it will likely go down as the warmest year on record. Japan's meteorological agency has already calculated 2014 as the warmest year worldwide. NOAA and NASA will announce global 2014 figures next week, but data through November point toward a new record.

The U.S. is only 2 percent of the world's surface; eastern North America was about the only exception to the hot global rule last year and even that chill was outweighed nationally by record western heat, said NOAA climate scientist Jake Crouch. It was the 18th straight year the U.S. was warmer than the 20th-century average. "This fits within the context of a long-term warming trend both here and around the globe," Crouch said. California, Nevada and Arizona had the hottest year in 120 years of record-keeping, while Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah and New Mexico had one of their five warmest years on record. Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Wisconsin and Michigan had one of their 10 coldest years on record.

Last year there were eight weather disasters that caused more than $1 billion in damage, according to NOAA. The last five years averaged 10 such billion-dollar disasters.

Is 2014 the Hottest or Coldest Year on Record? 0:28

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— The Associated Press