New data from Climate Central shows between each of our four seasons, climate change is causing winters to warm the fastest across the majority of the United States.
Since 1970, all states have recorded an increase of at least 1°F in average winter temperatures. More than 30 states observed an increase of more than 3°F, Texas being one of them.
It’s important to note this doesn’t mean winter is no longer ‘cold’. Year-to-year variations and short-term cold snaps still exist. What this does mean is what we think of as “normal winter weather,” is changing in a changing climate.
The city of Austin has seen an increase of ~4°F in average winter temperatures since 1970.
Why it matters?
A warmer winter can affect the following:
- Impacts to recreational snow sports: skiing, snowboarding, pond hockey, snowshoeing, etc.
– Loss of jobs, loss of tourism, loss of economic revenue, etc.
– IN-DEPTH: A 2017 study projected that warming could cause winter recreation to shrink by up to 50% by 2050.
- Higher energy consumption (higher demand for cooling for those with typically mild winters)
- Longer allergy season
- Keeps insects active longer
- Shifts in growing seasons
- Prolong wildfire season
IN-DEPTH: Fruit production (such as apples, cherries and peaches), which relies on cooler temperatures in the winter, contributes ~$4 billion annually to the U.S. economy.
Regional seasonal warming
The most significant winter warming was found in the Northeast Region (Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts) and the Great Lakes region (Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan).
The most significant summer warming is being observed in the Pacific Northwest, only worsening the wildfire risk as we’ve seen this year.
More pronounced spring warming is found in the Great Basin, West Coast and Desert Southwest.
The more significant fall warming is reported in the Rocky Mountain states.
For more information, visit ClimateCentral.org