2021 recorded as 4th warmest year in U.S., its effects on the Big Country

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KTAB/KRBC: Viewer submitted photo of snow in Abilene, Feb. 2021

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – 2021 was a year full of weather extremes. From Abilene to the Ohio Valley., record warmth and other severe weather events were experienced, with some climate disasters exceeding $1 billion in damages. Thinking about 2021, there is no shortage of weather events to talk about.

Toasty Temperatures

For 2021, the average temperature landed at 54.5 degrees. This is 2.5 degrees above the 20th century average and is what ranked this as the fourth warmest year in NOAA’s 127-year period of record. The top six warmest years have all taken place since 2012.  

Maine and New Hampshire had their second warmest year on record, while 19 other states experienced a top five warmest year.

As for us here in Abilene, we saw a yearly average temperature of 66.2 degrees, making 2021 our 14th warmest year. But, temperatures were not all record-setting. Alaska saw an average temperature of 26.4 degrees. While it was still above average by 0.4 degrees, it was the coolest year since 2012. 

December alone was one for the record books, and helped drive annual average temperatures up. The average temperature was 39.3 degrees; that’s 6.7 degrees above average. This was the warmest December nationwide, since the previous record warmth in 2015.  

10 states – Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas – all experienced their warmest December.

Not only did the Lone Star State have their warmest December, but we also had our warmest here in Abilene as well. Our average high was 60.4 degrees, surpassing the previous record in 1889.  

Precipitation by the numbers

Across the contiguous U.S., precipitation totaled 30.48 inches, 0.54 inches above average.

Abilene Regional Airport measured 24.43 inches of precipitation for the year, sitting 0.81 inches below average.  

Billion-dollar disasters

The U.S. experienced 20 different billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in 2021.

These events killed 688 people, the most disaster related fatalities since 2011 and more than double 2020’s number of 262. This past year does still come in second place for the highest number of disasters in a calendar year, behind the record setting 22 that took place in 2020.  

Though 2021 had fewer disasters in number, the cost damages were greater. $145 billion is the number, which far exceeds the damage costs of $102 billion from 2020.  

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