(USATODAY.com) - The U.S. was odd man out in January.
While the country shivered through a bitterly cold month, much of the rest of the world was warmer than average.
Globally, Earth had its fourth warmest January since record keeping began in 1880, according to a climate report released Thursday by scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The month was warmer in 2002, 2003 and 2007.
January's global average temperature was 54.8 degrees, which was 1.17 degrees above the 20th-century average of 53.6 degrees.
All of the top 10 warmest Januarys have occurred since 1998.
Land areas in the Southern Hemisphere had their warmest January on record, while both France and China had their second warmest January, according to the NOAA report.
As for precipitation, the United Kingdom had its third wettest January, leading to devastating floods. Western Australia had its fifth wettest January on record.
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January "also marked the 38th consecutive January and 347th consecutive month (almost 29 years) with a global temperature above the 20th century average," the report noted.
Sea ice levels at the top and bottom of the world were a mixed bag: While Arctic Ocean ice extent was the fourth smallest on record in January, Antarctic sea ice extent was the second- largest.
In the U.S., January was only slightly cooler than average, as the nation was split between frigid, snowy conditions in many Central and Eastern states, and very warm and dry weather in the West and in Alaska.
Looking ahead, the drought in California likely will be the main weather and climate story this year in the U.S., according to Deke Arndt of NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.
Thursday's U.S. Drought Monitor, a federal website that tracks drought, reported that 94.5% of California was in some form of a drought. And 14.62% of the state - the west-central part - is in "exceptional" drought, the worst drought level.
"Widespread heavy precipitation is badly needed in this state as the normal wet season nears its end by early to mid-spring," according to the Monitor.