Saturday, July 9, 2011

Warmer Weather Is Officially the New Normal

Warmer Weather Is Officially the New Normal: "

If you’ve been wondering whether your local summers are warmer or wetter than before, now you can look it up.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released its new United States weather “normals,” which are updated every 10 years. The latest show a general warming trend — hardly a surprise in itself, but the data’s beauty is in its fine-grained detail.

Each normal reflects average climatological conditions for the past 30 years, and is based on readings from some 7,500 stations across the country. The latest cover the period from 1981-2010, and replace the 1971-2000 normals.

Readings cover everything from dew points to cloud cover to wind speed and, of course, temperature. Changes in temperature are especially striking in two measurements considered emblematic of winter and summer weather: Average minimum temperature in January and average maximum temperature in July.

For July, the new normal slightly cooler in central and northeastern states, while most of the rest of the country. is slightly warmer. An exception is the northwest, where the new normal is about 2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer.

For January, however, the difference is striking. Average minimum temperatures rose everywhere in the U.S. except its southeastern tip. In certain northern-central regions, minimum temperatures rose by a full 4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Though the results fit global warming predictions, NOAA notes that normals are not intended to evaluate long-term climate change. But whatever the underlying dynamics, a trend is clear: It’s getting hotter.

Images: NOAA


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