Last year, the heat turned on and the weather just got weirder.
January 2007 was the warmest first month on record worldwide1.53 degrees Fahrenheit (0.85 degrees Celsius) above normal. It was the first time since record-keeping began in 1880 that the globe's average temperature has been so far above the norm for any month of the year.
And as 2007 drew to a close, it was also shaping up to be the hottest year on record in the Northern Hemisphere.
U.S. weather stations broke or tied 263 all-time high temperature records, according to an Associated Press analysis of U.S. weather data. England had the warmest April in 348 years of record-keeping there, shattering the record set in 1865 by more than 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit (0.6 degrees Celsius).
(Related photos: Record-Breaking Weather Pounds Planet [August 8, 2007])
Major U.S. lakes shrank, and Atlanta worried about its drinking water supply.
South Africa got its first significant snowfall in 25 years. And on Reunion Island, 400 miles (645 kilometers) east of Africa, nearly 155 inches (4 meters) of rain fell in three days—a world record for the most rain in 72 hours.
Individual weather extremes can't be attributed to global warming, scientists always say. However, "it's the run of them and the different locations" that have the mark of human-caused climate change, said top European climate expert Phil Jones, director of the climate research unit at the University of East Anglia in England.
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