The eastern U.S. was one of the only spots that was cooler-than-average this past winter. In this map, blue areas are cooler-than-average while red areas are warmer-than-average. / NOAA National Climatic Data Center
The central and eastern USA shivered through a colder-than-average winter, but most of the rest of the globe did not share in the chill, registering the eighth warmest overall winter on record.
The data were released Wednesday by scientists at the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. The climate center is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Climate scientists define winter as the months of December, January and February, which are the three coldest months in the Northern Hemisphere. South of the equator, in the Southern Hemisphere, these three months are summer.
The winter was 1.03 degrees F warmer than average, the NCDC reported. Europe was very warm. Countries such as Austria, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands each had one of their five warmest winters. In Austria, where weather data go back 247 years, the nation had its second-warmest winter on record.
This winter, the Northern Hemisphere was marked by stuck weather patterns that persisted throughout much of the season, according to climate scientist Deke Arndt of the climate center.
He said these entrenched patterns of high-pressure ridges (which tend to bring clear, mild weather) and low-pressure troughs (which bring cooler, wetter weather) were responsible for the dramatic contrast in temperatures over North America and Europe.
As noted in last week's U.S. climate report, the USA was 1 degree cooler than average this winter and had its 34th-coldest winter on record. But while the West was warmer than average, the central and eastern US were much cooler than average.
And in Europe, while the United Kingdom was walloped by storms, most of continental Europe had a mild winter.
There was more snow than usual this winter: Snow in the Northern Hemisphere covered 255,000 square miles above the 1981-2010 average and produced the 18th largest winter snow cover for the hemisphere, the report found.
February also was warmer-than-average around the world and marked the 348th consecutive month (29 years) with a global temperature above the 20th-century average. The last below-average global temperature for any month was February 1985.
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