GENEVA, Switzerland and WASHINGTON, DC — The average temperature around the globe for the year 2000 was the fifth highest since records began, the World Meteorological Organization, the United Nations’ weather agency, reported.

The agency noted that the earth’s surface temperature for last year would log in at approximately 59.6°F, which is 0.6° above the long-term average, attributing this to the buildup of greenhouse gases which are promoting global warming.

In addition, the organization related that the winter of 1999-2000 in the U.S. was the warmest since recordkeeping was initiated.

However, the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that 2000 ended with some record cold weather. NOAA officials said the country can expect a big chill for the rest of the winter.

“Generally, while we experienced above-average temperatures in 2000, colder-than-normal temperatures emerged later, especially during November,” said D. James Baker, NOAA administrator, pointing out that November was the second coldest on record.

Jack Kelly, director of the National Weather Service, a NOAA agency, said that the past year exhibited variability and extremes, and the trend should continue into the winter. Reviewing the 2000-01 winter outlook, Kelly said, “There is a good chance of seeing a couple more major cold outbreaks, and considerable swings in temperature and precipitation across the nation.”

Kelly remarked that colder winter temperatures are expected in the northern Plains, upper Midwest, Great Lakes, northern Rockies, and parts of the Northwest. More precipitation — including more snow — is expected from northeast Texas up to New England.

The southern portion of Alaska will experience colder-than-normal temperatures. On the other hand, the southernmost states, from Southern California to Florida, will see warmer temperatures.

“The recent cold spell, including the ice storms, is an example of what most of the nation will likely face throughout the winter,” Kelly said.

Publication date: 01/22/2001