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2019 Was The Second-Hottest Year On Record Globally. Here's What Happened In Austin.

A person's sweaty forward
Gabriel C. Pérez

Last year was the world’s second-warmest year on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA. And the Austin area was not immune to the warming trends.

Research released by the agencies Wednesday shows how the planet has been getting warmer each decade since the 1960s, and the average surface temperature was 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit above the average from 1951 to 1980. 


2019 was slightly cooler than 2016, the hottest year on record.

Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said this decade will most likely continue to break records unless countries address climate change.

"That depends on what we do with [greenhouse gas] emissions," he said, "and we aren’t able to tell you by looking at the past how society will actually react to this information."


Texas saw its 17th warmest year in 2019, while the United States saw its 34th, according to Victor Murphy, climate service program manager for the National Weather Service in Fort Worth. 

The variation in rankings has to do with rainfall, he said. The U.S. saw a very wet year in 2019, while rainfall in Texas was pretty average. 


Last year was the 11th warmest year on record in the Austin area, which saw an average temperature of 70.7 degrees Fahrenheit. It was the coolest year since 2015 in Austin, but nine of the 11 warmest years in Austin have all occurred in the last 20 years. 

"I think that's pretty telling," Murphy said. 


The graph shows the number of 100-degree days each year in the Austin area.
Credit Victor Murphy / National Weather Service
National Weather Service
The graph shows the number of 100-degree days each year in the Austin area. The black line shows the 10-year rolling average of 100-degree days.

Austin is also seeing an increase in the number of 100-degree days. In the 30-year period between 1981 and 2010, the average number of 100-degree days was 18. From 1990 to 2019, the average was 28 days. 

“I think part of that is due to global warming and climate change,” Murphy said. “The other part of it is probably due to urbanization in the Austin area with all of the explosive growth that Austin is seeing.”

Mose Buchele contributed to this report. 

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Marisa Charpentier is KUT's assistant digital editor. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @marisacharp.
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