In spite of last year’s polar vortex, and the recent exceptionally heavy snow fall in the North East, winters are—on average—getting warmer. A new report from Climate Central looks at the number of nights each year that major US cities experience below freezing temperatures, and contrasts them with the number of nippy nights we can expect in 2100, if current warming trends continue. Check out the map to see what’s in store for your area.
Winters have, on average, been getting warmer since the 1970s. And while some may welcome the prospect of warmer days and less snow-shoveling, the change in climate presents a number of problems. As Climate Central explains “ski resorts need freezing temperatures for snow, some crops rely on a chill period, and pests can flourish year-round if winter temperatures aren’t cold-enough for them to die off.”
As carbon emissions remain at a level that forces the continuation of these warming trends, cities will experience far fewer freezing nights. The notoriously chilly Buffalo, NY currently experiences 124 freezing nights each year, but will see only about 57 a year in 2100. Dallas, TX meanwhile, with 29 freezing nights per year will experience weather more on a par with southern Louisiana, with only 7 nights below freezing.
Indeed, Climate Central notes that “80 percent of the cities we analyzed — 593 of the 697 — could see at least a 50 percent reduction in number of nights below freezing.” While at the greatest extreme “[t]here are even 28 cities, mostly those that currently experience between 10 and 20 nights below freezing, that may see at least a 90 percent reduction. For these cities, freezing nights will become a rare event that occurs about once a year.”
Alarming stuff. And if you’re curious about how summer highs may look by the end of the century, Climate Central has the data here.