Nearly Every U.S. State Projected to Have Its Hottest Recorded December Ever

New data shows that nearly every U.S. state likely recorded the hottest December temperatures on record, after several regions throughout the country experienced unprecedented winter heat.

The Lower 48 states are among those that experienced the record-breaking temperatures, with areas in the South, East and Central U.S. reporting highs that exceeded those from more than a century of December data, according to a new report by Axios.

Among those states is Texas, which experienced its warmest December on record since 1889, according to state climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon. Across the Lone Star State, temperatures averaged 5 to 9 degrees above normal.

"It's like the entire state moved south for the winter," Nielsen-Gammon said in a statement on January 3. "Amarillo got Dallas's normal temperatures, Dallas got Corpus Christi's normal temperatures, and Austin got Brownsville's normal temperatures.

"Not only is it by far the warmest December since the beginning of comprehensive weather records, it will probably also turn out to be the warmest winter month, period," he added.

In just the first two days of December, records were broken in Washington state, Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota, as temperatures felt more like spring than winter, according to The Washington Post. In some areas, temperatures in those states reached as high as 78.

Other states, including parts of Oklahoma and Louisiana, also recorded their highest temperatures on record as the month continued. Additionally, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a report that the most extreme heat was concentrated in Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, according to The Hill.

Alaskan climatologist Brian Brettschneider pointed to climate change as an explanation for the above-average winter temperatures, tweeting last month that a colder winter signifies a more liveable planet.

"It's time to stop celebrating above normal winter temperatures. Every cold day we can squeeze out of our warming world keeps the planet liveable a little while longer. What matters more, personal comfort or a habitable planet? Let's normalize cold being a good thing," he wrote.

Other factors that contributed to the December heat included high pressure in the Pacific near the international dateline, which caused a dip in the jet stream between Alaska and Hawaii, the Post reported. That helped to allow warmer temperatures to build over the Northern Rockies and upper Midwest. It also caused downsloping, or the forcing of air down mountains, in the Central U.S., leading to warmer and drier weather, the Post said.

The high December temperatures also come after the U.S. experienced a year of deadly weather events, ranging from raging wildfires on the West Coast to an unprecedented tornado outbreak in the Central states.

High December Temps U.S.
Nearly every U.S. state likely recorded its hottest December on record, according to new data. Above, people wait for a ferry to the Statue of Liberty on an unseasonably warm day at the beginning of the Christmas holiday week in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images