Before it got cold this winter, it was warm. Very warm. In fact, new data out Monday shows 2017 was the third warmest year recorded in the lower 48 states.
And it was also a smackdown year for weather disasters: 16 weather events each broke the billion-dollar barrier.
First, the heat. Last year was 2.6 degrees F warmer than the average year during the 20th century.
That may be hard to remember in the thick of winter. But climate scientist Deke Arndt points out that even in a warm year, we still have frigid weather that invades from the north. "We still have very cold poles and we still have the same weather systems that pull cold air away from those poles into places where we live," he explains.