California's average temperature for January through July 2014 was the warmest ever. (Craig Miller/Climate Watch)
California’s average temperature for January through July 2014 was the warmest ever recorded. (Craig Miller/KQED)

California might be headed for its hottest year on record. The state’s average temperature for the first half of the year is already its highest in recorded history, according to a recent report by the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Association’s Climatic Data Center.

The average temperature for January through July was 60.9 degrees Fahrenheit. It beat the previous record, set in 1934, by 1.4 degrees.

“It’s definitely been warmer,” said Kevin Baker, meteorologist-in-charge at the National Weather Service office in Monterey. “A lot of it has to do with the sea surface temperatures being warmer than they normally are.”

Northwestern winds that usually cause cool water upwelling from the bottom of the ocean have been weaker than normal. Warmer sea surfaces mean warmer air temperatures, Baker said.

He expects the warm trend to continue into the fall. “It’s possible we’ll have more records coming our way, so standby for warmer-than-normal temperatures.”

According to NOAA, three California cities have also broken average temperature records this year. Fresno, San Francisco and Sacramento all registered new highs in average temperature.

While the state is breaking a record this year, Jan Null, certified consulting meteorologist for Golden Gate Weather Services, said no single year is significant in itself. What matters is how this year fits into larger temperature trends that climatologists are studying, he said.

“There’s certainly been this continued upward trend,” Null said. “We’re seeing a warmer climate.”

California Isn’t Just Dry — It’s Hot 24 August,2014Sally Schilling


Sally Schilling

KQED Science intern Sally Schilling brings environmental conflicts to life by finding the people most affected by them. She’s recently told the stories of park rangers on the hunt for redwood burl poachers, and the accidental activists in Pittsburg who are fighting a proposed crude oil facility being built in their backyards. Sally is currently studying video journalism and investigative reporting at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. She grew up on an organic farm near Davis, Ca.

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