Submitted by ub on Wed, 03/07/2012 - 19:40

Warmer-than-average temperatures dominated the northern and eastern regions of the country in December, January and February, leading to the fourth warmest winter on record for the contiguous United States. The winter season was also drier-than-average for the Lower 48, with dry conditions experienced across the West and the Southeast but wetter-than-average conditions in the Central and Southern Plains and parts of the Ohio Valley.

The average contiguous U.S. temperature during the December-February period was 36.8 degrees F, 3.9 degrees F above the 1901-2000 long-term average — the warmest since 2000. The precipitation averaged across the nation was 5.70 inches, 0.78 inch below the long-term average.

This warm winter in the contiguous U.S. was the fourth-warmest on record, with an average temperature of 36.8 degrees Fahrenheit (2.7 Celsius), according to National Weather Center statistics.

The average temperature in the lower 48 states was 3.9 degrees above the 1901 to 2000 long-term average, according to the center in Asheville, North Carolina.

This winter has bee the warmest since the record-breaking warm winter of 2000, with average temperatures of 37.17 degrees.

Meteorologists designate winter lasting from Dec. 1 to Feb. 29.