Actually, That Was the 4th-Warmest January Ever And the 347th straight month above 20th-century averages By Kevin Spak, Newser Staff Posted Feb 21, 2014 7:11 AM CST 146 comments Comments A woman braves blowing and heavy wet snow near Peavey Plaza in Minneapolis as a winter storm hit parts of eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin, Feb. 20, 2014 in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone) (Newser) – This may be hard to believe if you live in the Eastern US, but that was the fourth-warmest January ever for the overall planet, the New York Times reports. The Goddard Institute for Space Studies actually pegs it as the third warmest since 1880, behind only 2002 and 2003, according to AccuWeather, which notes GISS data merges land and ocean surface temps. The perpetually storm-afflicted East Coast was indeed one of Earth's coldest areas compared with seasonal norms, but things were balmy elsewhere; California and Alaska saw temperatures as much as 15 degrees above normal. Besides, the US makes up just 2% of the surface of the world, so its experience paints a limited picture. It's been unseasonably warm in most of Europe, Africa, Australia, and China. Of course, unseasonable warmth is getting awfully routine; it was the 347th straight month with temperatures above 20th-century averages.