This year wasn’t just abnormally dry - it was also really hot.
2015 will likely be the second-hottest of the last 70 years in Sacramento, trailing only 2014, according to a Bee analysis of records from the National Climatic Data Center and forecasts for the remainder of December.
The last several years in Sacramento and California have been marked by deep, persistent drought. Drought feeds hot weather since it reduces cloud cover. And high temperatures make the effects of drought worse, increasing evaporation and increasing the amount of precipitation in the Sierra that falls as rain instead of snow.
The average Sacramento high this year will be about 77 degrees, compared to an average of about 73.8 degrees during prior years. The average low will be about 50.6 degrees, compared to 48.2 degrees in prior years.
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But 2015 is not a temporary blip. Both Sacramento and California have grown warmer during the last century, a trend that most scientists attribute to climate change.
Temperatures were aggravated this year by El Niño, the rise in water temperature in the equatorial Pacific Ocean that often disrupts weather throughout North America.
This chart shows the average high and low temperature at Sacramento's Executive Airport for each year since 1948. For 2015, it shows actual temperatures through early December and forecasted temperatures for the remainder of the month.