Alaska had its warmest year ever in 2019, a new report finds

The state's average temperature was above freezing.

By Reuters - January 8, 2020

Last year was Alaska’s warmest year on record and the second wettest in the contiguous United States, according to a government report on the U.S. climate released on Wednesday.

Alaska’s average temperature was 32.2 degrees Fahrenheit (0.1 degree Celsius), 6.2 degrees F above the long-term average, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information said in the annual report.

Average temperatures have risen steadily in Alaska in recent years, with four of the last six years experiencing record warmth. Alaska’s previous record average was set in 2016.

In Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, the temperature hit 90 degrees F (32.2 C) for the first time on record in July.

[Alaska’s hottest month portends transformation into ‘unfrozen state’]

The average temperature in the contiguous United States, 52.7 degrees F (11.5 degrees C), was the lowest since 2014 but was still 0.7 degree F above the 20th-century average.

Southeastern states, including Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, South Carolina and Virginia, each experienced either their warmest or second warmest years.

Annual precipitation in the contiguous United States was 34.78 inches (88.34 cm), 4.84 inches (12.29 cm) above average. The total was 0.18 inch (0.46 cm) less than the record set in 1973, the report said.

The Midwest was particularly wet, with North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan each experiencing their wettest years on record.

The United States experienced 119 billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in the last decade, more than double the 59 it experienced in the previous decade, the report said. Damage costs from the disasters during the 2010s topped $800 billion.

Reporting by Nichola Groom.