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Health, Science & Environment

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.

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