NOAA says winter was hottest in U.S. records

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal meteorologists say the winter that has just ended was the hottest in U.S. records, thanks to the combination of El Nino and man-made global warming.

The average temperature for the Lower 48 from December through February, known as meteorological winter, was 36.8 degrees, 4.6 degrees above normal.

It breaks the record set in 1999 to 2000. Last month was the seventh warmest February. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration climate scientist Jake Crouch said a super-hot December pushed the winter to record territory.

The fall of 2015 also was a U.S. record. All six New England states had their warmest winters. Every state in the Lower 48 had winters at least 1.7 degrees warmer than normal. Alaska was 10.6 degrees warmer than normal.

Records go back to 1895. Earlier this month, we reported that this year’s meteorological winter was the seventh warmest in Illinois on record, as the average statewide temperature for the December through February period was 33.5 degrees, or 4.4 degrees above average.