2014 officially hottest year on record, beating 1998 despite the lack of a strong El Niño
The Japanese Meteorological Agency has released its numbers for 2014, and we are clearly in record-breaking territory with the warmest year since records began in 1891 and an average temperature +1.1°F/+0.63°C above the 20th century average. This beats the previous record, which was held by 1998, and 2014 kind of did that with a hand tied behind its back because 1998 had a super El Niño cycle (which helps warm things up) while 2014 had a weak one.
This now means that all 10 of the hottest years on record have come since 1998.
This is despite the much talked about 'polar vortex' that engulfed North-America in early 2014. The U.S. and Canada got so cold that you started to hear pundits grumble "Why is it so cold if the Earth is warming?" despite the fact that simultaneously, many other corners of the globe were getting record warm temperatures and what matters for global warming are global temperatures; it's very possible to have local cold anomalies while the global average is going up.
You can clearly see the North-American cold anomaly as the rest of the world is mostly full of warm anomalies.
In fact, as the polar vortex was freezing our buns in North-America, the planet as a whole was already on track for 2014 to be the 3rd hottest year on record and the following Spring turned out to be the warmest since records began in 1891.
There's also the fact that in a warming world, people become less used to cold waves, so the fewer number of them that remains seems worse than they are if you look at the actual historical data: