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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says 2016 was the warmest year on record (in data that began in 1880). “Last year was the warmest year on record, beating 2015 by a few hundredths of a degree, and together those two years really blow away the rest of the record,” says Deke Arndt, the chief of NOAA’s monitoring group in Asheville, NC. The global average temperature in 2016 was 58.7 degrees, or 1.7 degrees above the global average for the 20th century. And the warming was truly global. “Some part of every continent and some part of every major ocean basin was warmest on record.” Arndt adds, “The long-term warming is driven almost entirely by greenhouse gases.”

Warming in the Arctic region is three to four times greater than the world average.

“2016 is a wake-up call in many ways,” says Johnathan Overpeck, a climate scientist at the University of Arizona. “Climate change is real, it is caused by humans, and it is serious.”

Mild temperatures continue in the Chicago area

Chicago’s snow-free streak continues. Mild temperatures (for the season) mean precipitation, when it occurs, will be rain during the upcoming six days. On average, we are in the coldest time of the winter. Average temperatures (based on 1981-2010 averages) decline to a maximum of 31 and minimum of 16 from January 11 through January 27 at O’Hare Airport, but averages carried out to tenths of a degree indicate a low point of 30.7 and 15.8 degrees on the 19th. Temperatures then begin a very slight rise.

The next precipitation events here will be in the form of rain – on Thursday night into Friday and again on Monday.

Periods of snow continue in the Pacific west

Several storm systems are forecast to impact California, Oregon and Washington from the present time through the end of the month. Each of these systems will bring heavy snow to the mountainous areas of those states. Present indications are that the pattern of repeated significant storm systems will abate toward the end of January.