Snowstorms and cold weather chills swept from the Midwest to the East Coast in January, closely followed by conservative media snow-trolls casting doubt on global warming. Here's what the conservative media didn't mention: the world as a whole was experiencing warm temperatures, leading to January becoming the 347th consecutive warmer-than-average month and the fourth warmest on record.
On February 20, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), released the findings that January 2014 experienced global temperatures 1.17°F warmer than the 20th century average, making it the fourth warmest January on record. NOAA data shows that the last time the planet experienced a month colder than the 20th century average was February 1985 -- 29 years ago.
How could this be, when Fox News was telling you that the snowstorms in the United States are a reason to doubt global warming? The answer lies beyond the lower 48 states, which make up only 1.5% of the Earth's surface. While some regions in the contiguous U.S did experience a colder-than-average month (none a record cold month), most of the globe did not:
And while it may have felt like an unusually cold January, frigid winter temperatures used to be the norm in many parts of the country. NOAA's findings state that the cold air “blasts” through the Midwest and East Coast were “highly unusual compared to the 21st century, but not so unusual compared to the late 20th century.” So the commotion in the conservative media over the recent cold weather spells may have been less about weather anomalies and more about weather amnesia. That phenomenon was demonstrated in this XKCD comic that cited Climate Central data showing increasingly fewer frigid nights in many cities:
If you missed it, here's what the right-wing has been trying to tell you about the winter cold: