The lower 48 states have for the most part recorded a mild winter. Locally, the month of December finished 11.2 degrees above average and the month of January is currently running about 10 degrees above normal. If February records temperatures this mild, the winter of 2011-2012 will challenge the winters of 1986-1987 and 1930-1931 as the warmest winter on record.
Yet, as we enjoy one of our warmest winters since 1881 in the Red River Valley, other parts of the world have not been so lucky. As a general rule, if one part of the Northern Hemisphere is well above average, you will almost always find another area that is recording the opposite extreme. For example, on January 17, parts of the northern Sahara Desert received an unusual snow event of several inches.
Plus, much of India has experienced a very cold winter with temperatures averaging 10 to 15 degrees below normal, with Bangalore recording their coldest January on record to date. The cold Indian winter has created much hardship for millions of people.