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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Climate of 1998
Annual Review:
Annual U.S. National Overview

National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, NC
January 8, 1999
U.S. Annual Temperature, 1895-1998
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    The national temperature index expresses temperature departure from the 60-year mean in terms of standard deviations. Each year's value is computed by standardizing the temperature for each of 344 climate divisions in the U.S. by using their 1931-90 mean and standard deviation, then weighting these divisional values by area. These area-weighted values are then normalized over the period of record. Positive values are warmer and negative values are cooler than the mean. The national standardized temperature index ranked 1998 as the second warmest year on record.
    U.S. Annual Temperature Index, 1895-1998
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    Preliminary data indicate that 1998 was the fifth wettest year on record for the United States. Annual 1998 precipitation across the contiguous United States averaged 32.61 inches (828 mm.). Each of the last nine years has averaged near to much wetter than the long-term mean.
    U.S. Annual Precipitation, 1895-1998
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    The national precipitation index expresses precipitation departure from the 60-year mean in terms of standard deviations. Each year's value is computed by standardizing the annual precipitation in each of 344 climate divisions across the U.S. using the gamma distribution over the 1931-90 period. The gamma statistical distribution takes into account heavy precipitation years and extremely dry years in the historical record (in mathematical parlance, "a zero-bounded skewed distribution"). These gamma-standardized divisional values are then weighted by area and averaged to determine a national standardized value for each year. These national values are normalized over the period of record. Negative values are drier and positive values are wetter than the mean. This index gives a more accurate indication of how precipitation across the country compares to the local normal (60-year average) climate. The national standardized precipitation index ranked 1998 as the fifth wettest year on record.
    U.S. Annual Precipitation Index, 1895-1998
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    About 75% of the country averaged much warmer than normal for 1998, while less than 1% had 1998 annual temperatures much cooler than normal.
    Map of Statewide 1998 Annual Temperature Ranks
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    Annual precipitation was much wetter than normal over about 22% of the country and much drier than normal over about 2% of the nation.
    Map of Statewide 1998 Annual Precipitation Ranks
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    Based on preliminary data from the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center through late-December, there were 1239 tornadoes observed in the United States during 1998, which is the second largest annual total in the 1953-1998 record. While the value for 1998 is the second greatest annual total, it should be pointed out that the preliminary tornado count is traditionally higher than the final count and that the tornado observations have generally improved with time as better observing practices and instrumentation (especially weather radar and satellites) were utilized.
    U.S. Annual Tornadoes, 1953-1998
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    The winter 1997-98 tornado count was the second greatest December-February total on record. A February tornado outbreak in Florida contributed to this winter total.
    U.S. Winter Tornadoes, 1953-54 to 1997-98
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    The spring 1998 tornado count was the fourth greatest March-May total on record.
    U.S. Spring Tornadoes, 1953-1998
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    Based on data from the National Weather Service National Hurricane Center , a total of 14 hurricanes and tropical storms developed in the North Atlantic basin during 1998. This is above the long-term mean of about 8 hurricanes and tropical storms.
    Number of North Atlantic Hurricanes and Tropical Storms, 1886-1998
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    Preliminary data indicate that there were 57 hurricane days during 1998, which is above the long-term mean of 33.
    Number of Hurricane Days, 1886-1998
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    Hurricane Mitch , the strongest October hurricane on record for the Alantic Basin, brought widespread death and destruction to portions of Central America. Based on annual maximum hurricane/tropical storm wind speed, 1998 ranked as fifth strongest.
    Annual Strongest Wind, 1944-1998
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    Mitch had the fourth lowest pressure of Atlantic hurricanes this century, tying with Hurricane Camille in 1969. Annual Lowest Pressure, 1944-1998
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For further information, contact:

    Mike Changery
    NOAA/National Climatic Data Center
    151 Patton Avenue
    Asheville, NC 28801-5001
    fax: 828-271-4328
    email: mchangry@ncdc.noaa.gov
-or-
    David Easterling
    NOAA/National Climatic Data Center
    151 Patton Avenue
    Asheville, NC 28801-5001
    fax: 828-271-4328
    email: david.easterling@noaa.gov
-or-
    Rob Quayle
    NOAA/National Climatic Data Center
    151 Patton Avenue
    Asheville, NC 28801-5001
    fax: 828-271-4328
    email: rquayle@ncdc.noaa.gov

NCDC / Climate Resources / Climate of 1998 / Annual / U.S.Overview / Search / Help


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