The twentieth century Northern Hemisphere mean surface temperature (NHT) is characterized by a multidecadal warming-cooling-warming pattern followed by a flat trend since about 2000 (recent warming hiatus). Here we demonstrate that the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is implicated as a useful predictor of NHT multidecadal variability. Observational analysis shows that the NAO leads both the detrended NHT and oceanic Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) by 15–20 years.