The year 2014 was considered the warmest year on record for the world, according to three different sources (Japan, NASA, and NOAA). Meanwhile, the Corn Belt experienced the 15th coldest year on record. How can that be?
First of all, here is how 2014 ranked state by state. Many of the Corn Belt states were much below normal, including the three “I” states – Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana as well as Missouri, Michigan, and Wisconsin. It was the 6th coldest year on record for Illinois and in the top 10% for the other states mentioned. The rest of the Corn Belt was below normal as well. Taken together, this was the 15th coldest year on record for the Corn Belt.
Meanwhile, above normal temperatures prevailed in the western US states, as well as Alaska. Many have noted the bipolar nature of 2014 and found this extreme range of temperature departures across the US to be very rare.
Furthermore, the Corn Belt was not only outstanding in terms of US temperatures but was one of the coldest places, relatively speaking, in the world in 2014. Here is the temperature departures around the world for 2014 (red is warmer than average, blue is colder than average). Over the continents, only the region from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast was colder than average. Large portions of western North America, as well as much of South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia experienced above-normal temperatures. As noted on Climate.gov, 19 of the 20 warmest years on record for the world have occurred in the last 20 years.
Finally, here is how 2014 stacked up to previous years for all the Corn Belt states. As mentioned it was the 15th coldest. Before that we had 17 years in a row with temperatures warmer than 2014. The last year with comparable cold was 1996, and before that 1978 and 1979.
Given how unusually cold this year was in Corn Belt, compared to both the recent past and what happened in the rest of the world, this was a truly unusual year and not likely to be repeated in 2015.