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Last Year Was Utah's 3rd Warmest

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Temperatures in Utah were third highest since records started being kept in 1874.

The end of December may have been bitterly cold, but last year was surprisingly warm overall in Utah, continuing a trend that began three years ago.

Despite that year-end cold snap, Utah logged one of its warmest years ever, the third hottest on record.

The National Weather Service said last year’s average temperature was 55.6 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s 2.8 degrees higher than normal.

“Even if it was summer, fall, winter, spring -- we were breaking heat records through every portion of the year,” says Brian McInerney of the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City. “It’s startling.”

In fact, the weather service counted 26 broken records last year. Utahns could harvest garden vegetables well into Utah’s third warmest fall. And most of December felt more like October at seven degrees hotter than usual.

Many say warm trends like this signal climate changes humans are causing.

Jim Steenburgh, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Utah, helped draft the state’s first report on climate change.

“The dice are loaded now for us to have warmer than average weather and also to see years or months that are pushing the envelope of what we’ve seen before,” he says.

The World Meteorological Association said last month 2014 will probably be one of the warmest years on record -- if not the warmest.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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