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Climatological Rankings

Temperature
Coldest
(1st)
12 Much Below Normal (10%)
41 Below Normal
Bottom 1/3
41 Ranks
Near Normal
41 Above Normal
Top 1/3
12 Much Above Normal (10%)
Warmest
(123ʳᵈ)
1ˢᵗ12ᵗʰ
13ᵗʰ41ˢᵗ
42ⁿᵈ82ⁿᵈRanks
83ʳᵈ111ᵗʰ
112ᵗʰ123ʳᵈ
1895 – 2017
(123 Years)
Precipitation
Driest
(1st)
12 Much Below Normal (10%)
41 Below Normal
Bottom 1/3
41 Ranks
Near Normal
41 Above Normal
Top 1/3
12 Much Above Normal (10%)
Wettest
(123ʳᵈ)
1ˢᵗ12ᵗʰ
13ᵗʰ41ˢᵗ
42ⁿᵈ82ⁿᵈRanks
83ʳᵈ111ᵗʰ
112ᵗʰ123ʳᵈ
Explanation of legend terminology graph

In order to place each month and season into historical context, NCEI assigns ranks for each geographic area (division, state, region, etc.) based on how the temperature or precipitation value compares with other values throughout the entire record when sorted from lowest to highest value. In other words, the numeric rank value within the area represents the position or location of the sorted value throughout the historical record (1895-present). As a year is added to the inventory, the length of record increases. As of 2017, NCEI has 123 years of records. Thus a rank of 123 would represent the warmest or wettest on record; a rank of 1 would represent the coolest or driest on record. If a state has a rank of 109, then it would be the 15ᵗʰ warmest or wettest on record. If a state rank has a value of 15, then that state ranked 15ᵗʰ out of 123 years, or 15ᵗʰ coolest or driest.

The "Below Normal", "Near Normal", and "Above Normal" shadings on the color maps represent the bottom, middle, and upper tercile (or three equal portions) of the distribution, respectively. The lowest and uppermost decile (or 10%) of the distribution are marked as "Much Below Normal" and "Much Above Normal", respectively. In other words, for a 123-year period (1895-2017), a rank of Much Above/Below Normal, would be in the top/bottom 12 on record. Below/Above Normal, would represent one of the 41 coolest/warmest or driest/wettest such periods on record. "Near Normal" would represent an average temperature or precipitation value that was not one of the 41 coolest/warmest or driest/wettest on record. For a 123-year period of record, "Near Normal" would represent a rank between 42 and 82.