Content

2018 was 4th hottest year on record for the globe

The U.S. experienced 14 billion-dollar weather and climate disasters
February 6, 2019
A collage of typical climate and weather-related events: heatwaves, drought, hurricanes, wildfires and changes in sea ice coverage.

Earth’s long-term warming trend continued in 2018 as persistent warmth across large swaths of land and ocean resulted in the globe’s fourth hottest year in NOAA’s 139-year climate record. The year ranks just behind 2016 (warmest), 2015 (second warmest) and 2017 (third warmest).

In separate analyses of global temperatures, scientists from NASA, the United Kingdom Met Office and the World Meteorological Organizationoffsite link also reached the same heat ranking.

Here are a few highlights from NOAA’s findings:

2018 global temperatures

  • The average global temperature during 2018 was 1.42 degrees F above the 20th-century average. This marks the 42nd consecutive year (since 1977) with an above-average global temperature. Nine of the 10 warmest years have occurred since 2005, with the last five years comprising the five hottest.

  • The globally averaged sea surface temperature was 1.19 degrees F above average, while the land surface temperature was 2.02 degrees above average, both the fourth highest on record.

  • Much of Europe, New Zealand and parts of the Middle East and Russia had record high land temperatures. Parts of the southern Pacific Ocean and parts of the north and south Atlantic Ocean also tallied record-high sea-surface temperatures.  

The United States experienced 14 billion-dollar weather disasters in 2018, which resulted in the deaths of at least 247 people and approximately $91 billion in damage.
The United States experienced 14 billion-dollar weather disasters in 2018, which resulted in the deaths of at least 247 people and approximately $91 billion in damage. (NOAA NCEI)

2018 U.S. billion-dollar weather and climate disasters

  • In 2018, the U.S. experienced 14 weather and climate disasters, each with losses exceeding $1 billion and all totaling around $91 billion in damages. Both the number of events and their cumulative cost ranked fourth highest since records began in 1980.

  • Topping the list were Hurricane Michael, which caused $25 billion in damages, followed by the western U.S. wildfires and Hurricane Florence, which each caused $24 billion in damages.

  • Most important was the human toll: At least 247 people died and many more were injured by the 14 disasters.

2018 U.S. climate highlights

  • In the U.S., last year’s weather story was more about wetness than heat. Precipitation for the contiguous U.S. averaged 34.63 inches (4.69 inches above average), the third wettest year in the 124-year record.

  • Much-above-average precipitation to record-high precipitation fell across much of the contiguous U.S. east of the Rockies.

  • The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 53.5 degrees F (1.5 degrees above average), making 2018 the 14th warmest year on record. This was the 22nd consecutive warmer-than-average year for the U.S.  

  • Much of the contiguous U.S. was warmer than average, particularly west of the Rockies and across the coastal Southeast. Most of the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest experienced near-normal temperatures.

More > Access NOAA’s full reports on the 2018 global climate analysis and the U.S. billion-dollar weather and climate disasters.

 

 

Media contacts

John Leslie, 301-713-0214
Brady Phillips, 202-407-1298