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At least 16 U.S. cities, and four U.S. states, experienced their warmest years ever last year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Overall, the contiguous U.S. saw its 34th-warmest year ever, and its 18th-consecutive year with an annual average temperature above its 20th century average. Temps averaged 52.6°F, 0.5°F above the average.

"2014 was a year of temperature extremes, with precipitation extremes more muted," NOAA said. "Above-average temperatures during 2014 were observed across much of the West, Northeast, and Florida."

None had it worse than Alaska, which broke its all-time average temperature high, set in 1926. For the first time ever recorded, Anchorage never had a day below 0°F. It follows a year in which the state had its 10th-warmest year on record. The state is experiencing numerous impacts from climate change, including entire communities that must decide whether to move because of rising sea levels.


Meanwhile, three cities saw record cold averages, and seven states had top-10 cold years, thanks to "numerous cold Arctic-air outbreaks," NOAA said.

Those outbreaks mostly came during last winter's polar vortex. One group of researchers believes the polar vortex can be linked to climate change, through a multi-step process that involves cold air slipping under a high-pressure "block" forming in the arctic.

Overall, 2014 was the 19th-most extreme climate year on record.

By comparison, 2013 saw numerous states with the wettest or near-wettest years ever, while 2012 was the warmest year ever for the U.S.


Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.