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A Winter of Freaky Weather

A coating of snow turned the deserts of Jordan white in January, providing these men in the country's capital 'Amman with a rare chance to throw snowballs.

From National Geographic News

This winter saw the coolest December-February period both globally and in the U.S. since 2001. New York's Central Park saw its BIGGEST SINGLE SNOWFALL — 26.9 inches (68 centimeters) — SINCE RECORD-KEEPING BEGAN in the 1860s. But in Europe, Scandinavian countries have experienced their WARMEST WINTER ON RECORD. And two-thirds of the southeastern U.S., was officially experiencing drought conditions at the end of February, with more than 25% of the region suffering extreme-to-exceptional drought. Meanwhile, Arctic conditions and RECORD SNOWFALL hit the Middle East and China.

A map below depicts global variations in temperature over the past winter, as compared to 29-year averages. Temperatures in northern Europe (seen as red dots) were well above average, while those in the Middle East (seen as blue dots) were colder than usual.

The unusual season seems to be the result of a "perfect storm" of weather patterns occurring at once, experts say.

Map courtesy NOAA

Freak winter weather has struck almost every area of the Northern Hemisphere with bizarre extremes in recent months. Snow fell on usually sweltering Baghdad and paralyzed central China, while the season barely registered in Scandinavia. The UNUSUAL season seems to be the result of a "perfect storm" of weather patterns occurring at once, experts say. Meteorologists in Sweden this month reported the country's mildest winter since record-keeping began in 1756. Neighboring Finland also registered its warmest winter on record. And Arctic Norway is heading for its mildest winter since monitoring started more than a century ago. Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, bluebell flowers bloomed in February for the first time. But elsewhere in the Northern Hemisphere, the winter has been notable for its severity
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