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Additionally, according to NOAA, if the mild conditions in the U.S. persist through February, this could be the country’s warmest winter in recorded history.
What’s Happening: While it’s still too soon to tell how this winter’s balmy weather might relate to climate change, the conditions are being more directly caused by an Arctic weather pattern that is trapping cold air in the polar region. NBC added that scientists are watching this system closely to try to understand whether this winter is an outlier or a preview of what could become more common for the Northern Hemisphere.
Longer Trends: Overall, a warming planet is making winters warmer. As the Washington Post explained, because of human-induced climate warming, winters like this — characterized by a lack of extreme cold and spotty snowfall — may become the norm this century.
In terms of what’s happening in the DC area, multiple studies have projected that the climate of the Mid-Atlantic region will turn more southern over the coming decades. This means shorter winters with far less bite. From a practical standpoint, you may find yourself needing heavy coats, scarves and hats far less, and hitting the golf links rather than the ski slopes.
Why This Matters: While winters can be a drag, they’re very important from an ecological standpoint. Below freezing temperatures kill ticks and other insects that carry disease and for Western states that depend on it, snow is a critical part of their water supply.
Additionally, as the National Snow and Ice Data Center explained, seasonal snow is an important part of Earth’s climate system. Snow cover helps regulate the temperature of the Earth’s surface, and once that snow melts, the water helps fill rivers and reservoirs in many regions of the world, especially the western United States.
Warm winters might be more comfortable in the short run, but in the long term, we have to urgently tackle climate change to ensure they don’t turn into something very problematic.
by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer Climate change is raising temperatures, but it’s not being felt equally. In the U.S., people of color and low-income communities are exposed to higher temperatures and more smog than white residents. Two new studies show this correlation: A survey of temperatures across 175 of the largest U.S. cities found […]
by Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer This year’s Atlantic hurricane season, which begins June 1 and lasts until Nov. 30, is about to bring a higher-than-average storm formation, just like last year, according to the NOAA. The agency predicted “above normal” hurricane activity, with a 70% probability of 13 to 20 named storms. Six to […]
by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer Extreme weather and permanent droughts are sweeping across the Western U.S., and with them comes an increasing demand for A/C and power. But cooling buildings through increasingly severe heatwaves takes a significant toll on power grids, and a new study has found that a significant heatwave blackout in three major American cities […]
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