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The contiguous United States is having its coldest year through November since 1997, a finding that comes amid a year that globally could be the warmest ever, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Monday in its monthly State of the Climate report. The period of January to November 2014 averaged 54 degrees Fahrenheit, 0.2 degrees above the 20th-century average, but still the coldest since 1997, NOAA said. The western U.S. was warmer than average, while the East was cooler. In California, the statewide average was 4.1 degrees Fahrenheit above average.

Other highlights from the report: Despite drought in California and the Southwest, overall precipitation averaged 28.22 inches, up 0.63 inches from the average for January to November; Alabama and Mississippi had their second coldest November ever; and November snow coverage of the contiguous U.S. was the largest in the 49-year satellite record. But that doesn’t mean an end to global warming: Last month, NOAA scientists said that data show 2014 heading toward the warmest year on record for the planet as a whole (remember, the U.S. covers only about 2 percent of the earth's surface). And 2014 so far has been at about the median for the 120 years on record, NOAA said.



— Gil Aegerter