There's an old adage that claims that records are made to be broken, and perhaps nowhere is that more evident than in the world of weather and climate extremes. In the past year alone, the National Climatic Data Center—the official keeper of weather and climate records for the United States—reported more than 100,000 new daily records for temperature, precipitation, and snowfall at official weather reporting sites across the country. While they contribute collectively to the overall weather and climate record, most of these individual records are not particularly noteworthy. In the past year, NCDC reported about 5,600 monthly records and only 680 all-time records. Still, while this may seem like a large number, it represents data from thousands of locations. When it comes to breaking a new, all-time weather record for the entire globe, the odds become even greater.
Contributing Editor Sean Potter is a New York-based Certified Consulting Meteorologist (CCM), Certified Broadcast Meteorologist (CBM), and science writer with an interest in weather history.