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by Randolph E. Schmid
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON -- Last month was the hottest on record -- click -- last month was the hottest on record -- click -- last month was the hottest on record.
August was the eighth month in a row to set a new average high temperature worldwide, an event that seems stuck like an old phonograph record with a scratch.
The average global temperature for August was 61.4 degrees Fahrenheit, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Thursday.
That broke the previous record of 61.1 degrees set in 1997 and is 1.3 degrees above the long-term average of 60.1 degrees for August.
August "continued the unprecedented string of record-breaking temperatures," the agency said. "Each month this year has set new all-time record global near-surface temperatures."
For the year to date, the average global temperature of 58.5 degrees Fahrenheit was also 1.3 degrees above the long-term average of 57.2.
That average is based on data from 1880 to 1997, according to the National Climatic Data Center, the NOAAÕs record-keeping division.
During August, surface warmth was evident over much of the globe, with cool areas in Europe, Alaska, Siberia, Bangladesh, the South Atlantic and the Central Pacific, the agency said.
In the Central Pacific, sea surface temperatures were below normal, an event commonly referred to as La Nina, although ocean temperatures off the northwest coast of South America remained warm.
In the United States, January through August has been the fifth wettest and fourth warmest such period on record.
For the year to date, the nation has had an average of 22.77 inches of precipitation. The normal for the period is 20.05 inches. The wettest January through August was in 1979, with 23.34 inches of precipitation.
The year 1934 had the warmest January through August for the United States, with a record 56.9 degrees. In 1998, the temperature for the period was 56.2 degrees. The normal for January through August is 54.3 degrees.
The outlook for the upcoming fall and winter includes periods with increased chances of below normal rain or snowfall in the Southwest, Central Plains and Southeast, with above normal precipitation in the Northwest.
Conditions are expected to be considerably more variable than the relatively stable and warm conditions of last winter.