By Jesse Wood
While 2016 ranked as the second warmest year on record for the U.S., the High Country experienced its warmest year in the past 122 years of record keeping, according to data from the National Centers for Environmental Information, a branch of NOAA.
The Northern Mountains division of North Carolina, on the other hand, featured an average temperature of 56.3 degrees in 2016. The Northern Mountains consists of Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Caldwell, Surry, Watauga, Wilkes and Yadkin counties.
The previous warmest years on record for the Northern Mountains were 2012 and 1998, both of which featured an average temperature of 56.2 degrees. See the attached graphs for more details.
Only parts of several states could say the same: Texas, West Virginia, Arizona, New Mexico, South Carolina, Georgia and Louisiana.
As for the U.S., the average temperature in 2016 was 54.9 degrees, which is 2.9 degrees above average and this past year marked the 20th consecutive warmer-than-average year for the nation, according to annual report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which noted that every state in the contiguous U.S. and Alaska experienced above-average annual temperatures.
The report also noted that average annual precipitation in the contiguous U.S. of 31.7 inches made this the 24th wettest year on record. Throughout the year, though, the national drought footprint expanded from 18 to 23 percent.
The U.S. also experienced 15 weather and climate disasters exceeding $1 billion in damage and a total of $46 billion in damages, according to the annual report:
“This was the second highest number of billion-dollar events in the 37-year record (1980–2016), one less than the 16 that occurred in 2011. Four of these were inland flooding events not associated with named tropical storms, doubling the previous record for number of billion-dollar inland flood events in one year, which occurred several years, most recently in 2015.”