WASHINGTON â€“ Mop your brow and read all about it: Spring 2000 was the hottest on record for the United States.
The National Climatic Data Center reported Friday that for meteorological spring â€“ March through May â€“ the average daily temperature was 55.5 degrees across the United States. That's 0.4 of a degree warmer than the previous spring record, set in 1910.
The agency also noted that the United States experienced the hottest January-May in 106 years of record-keeping, a report sure to stir the debate over the potential threat of global warming.
On a global basis, land and ocean surface temperature readings also were warmer than normal, tying 1990 as the second-warmest spring on record. But satellite-derived readings measuring the lower atmosphere didn't produce the same result, with colder-than-normal waters in the tropical Pacific Ocean holding down readings so that the globally averaged temperature as measured by satellite was 0.07 degrees below normal for spring.
Climatologist Jay Lawrimore of the data center said he is reluctant to blame global warming directly for the unusual heat in the United States.
"However," he added, "there is the possibility that there is some impact from global warming and it is amplifying the normal oscillations in our climate."
It's unusual to have every state above normal for a season, he said.
In addition to topping the 1910 record for spring warmth, 2000 was 3.3 degrees above average for the period, according to data compiled by the center. The center, which is in Asheville, N.C., is part of the government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The agency said that every state in the continental United States was warmer than normal during spring, with Texas experiencing its hottest spring on record.
But the Dallas area was an exception. The region had its seventh-hottest March through May, based on average monthly temperatures recorded at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, said Steve Fano, National Weather Service meteorologist. The average monthly temperature was 67.7 degrees during that period.
The record was set in 1925 with an average monthly temperature of 69.3 degrees from March through May, he said. This January through May, on the other hand, was the warmest on record, Mr. Fano said.
The average temperature during that time was 62.2 degrees, topping 1911's average temperature of 61.8 degrees, he said.
For the five-month January to May period the nation's average temperature was 48.5 degrees. The old record of 47.4 degrees was set in 1986.
Looking ahead to the summer, Mr. Lawrimore said: "We are expecting a continuation of above-normal temperatures and not enough precipitation to actually bring much relief. There might be a tropical system that could being relief to the Southeast; however, then you have the problem of flooding."