NOAA has just released its newest U.S. Climate Normals. This report comes out every 10 years and charts 30-year averages of weather for places around the U.S. The latest version shows a warmer normal.
Local weather stations all over the country collect data on rainfall, temperature and other climate conditions, which NOAA analyzes. The newest report spans 1991-2020 and sets the new climate norms, replacing the 1981-2010 norms that preceded it.
Related: Climate change pushes US weather to extremes
“Almost every place in the U.S. has warmed from the 1981 to 2010 normal to the 1991 to 2020 normal,” said Michael Palecki, NOAA’s normals project manager. This probably won’t surprise anyone who’s heard of climate change. But looking at a series of maps showing the progression of higher temps (shown in red) overtaking lower temps (shown in blue) is kind of shocking. The 1901-1930 map has lots of dark and light blue, with pink smudges mostly in the South. By the time we get to 1991-2020, the map is starting to resemble a brick.
The country’s new average overall normal temperature is 53.3°F, a full degree warmer than the 2001 normal and 1.7 degrees hotter than the first time the normal was calculated back in 1901 to 1930. The data shows that more than 90% of locations in the U.S. have warmer normal temperatures than just 10 years ago. There are exceptions, such as Fargo, North Dakota, which got one-tenth of a degree cooler.
Some places got hotter faster. The new normal temperature jumped 1.5 degrees in Chicago and Asheville, North Carolina, compared to 10 years ago. Atlanta, Seattle, Boston and Phoenix rose at least half of a degree in the last decade. Phoenix, in particular, was hot enough already.
Trends in rain are less straightforward. Overall, the amount of rainfall has increased in the last four iterations of the report. But some places are drier. Phoenix is down 10% while Los Angeles is down 4.6%. Other places are significantly wetter. Precipitation rose 9% in Asheville, 6% in New York City and 5% in Seattle.
Via AP News
Images via NOAA and Kevin Ellis