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 August 23, 2013
It feels cool in parts of the U.S. and Europe, but much of the globe is sweltering

 In the District of Columbia this year, it seemed summer would never come. Spring was cold. Cherries bloomed late. Even Memorial Day weekend had a chill to it.

There have been a few heat waves this summer, but the muggy climate of Washington, D.C., summers has been largely absent. The same has been true for much of the South and parts of the Midwest: 2013 just doesn't seem all that hot.

Actually, it is that hot.

According to an analysis of the first half of 2013 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, global temperatures this year are 1.06 degrees Fahrenheit (0.59 degree Celsius) higher than the 20th-century average. That number is averaged across ocean and land temperatures. That means this year ties with 2003 as the sixth-warmest year on record, with the record going back to 1880.

Globally, the only regions with below-average temperatures for January through July were parts of northern Europe and the central and southeastern United States, NOAA's National Climatic Data Center reported Tuesday.

The Southeast has been, overall, a little colder than average this year, said Jake Crouch, a climate scientist at the center. It's also been wet: In western North Carolina, upstate South Carolina and the Florida Panhandle, monthly rainfall totals were more than 300 percent of normal for July.

"We've found ourselves in a persistent pattern where we have a trough or a lower pressure centered over the eastern part of the U.S. This has allowed cooler air and wetter conditions to set up," said Crouch.

But this very regional pattern belies the global trend, he said.

"Large parts of the globe have been record or near-record warm for 2013."

New England fries with Australia

Just a little farther north on the Eastern Seaboard, preliminary data show that Rhode Island and Massachusetts had their warmest July on record, with Rhode Island 4.6 degrees Fahrenheit above normal and Massachusetts 4.5 degrees higher, said Samantha Borisoff, a climatologist at the Northeast Regional Climate Center.

Much of New England saw unusually high nighttime temperatures.

"Hartford had a record 11 consecutive days (from June 28 to July 8) where the temperature did not drop below 70 degrees Fahrenheit, even at night," said Borisoff.

In Arizona, Tucson had 39 days where temperatures reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit, from June 1 to July 10. That is the longest such streak in a 119-year record.

Australia had its warmest summer on record this year, during the United States' winter, and its fall and winter have also been warm. Reports suggest this year might become that continent's warmest ever.

The western Pacific Ocean and the Philippines have been record warm, as well, said NCDC's Crouch.

The National Climatic Data Center noted that this July was the 341st consecutive month, since February 1985, that global monthly temperatures were higher than the long-term average for that month.

And even though summer in the District of Columbia has seemed cool compared to recent years, preliminary data from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, the city's official climate site, show that July was the 14th warmest on record for the city, according to Borisoff.

In the district, this summer may seem cooler to residents simply because recent years have been so hot. "While above normal, this July is the coolest since 2009 in D.C.," said Borisoff.