This winter is one of the warmest ever in Nashville
This winter has been Nashville's fifth-warmest on record, with an average temperature of 47°F from December through February — 11 degrees warmer than winter 1970.
- That's according to a new analysis of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration numbers from Climate Central, a nonpartisan research and communications group.
Why it matters: Warm winters can exacerbate drought (because there's less snowmelt in the spring) and wreak havoc on crops and gardens.
The big picture: Winter is the fastest-warming season for much of the continental U.S.
- About 80% of the country now has at least seven more winter days with above-normal temperatures compared to 1970, per Climate Central.
- Seasonal snowfall is declining in many cities — though heavy snowstorms can still happen.
- In fact, precipitation extremes are happening more frequently and getting more intense, which can lead to feast or famine snowfall.
Driving the news: Not only are winters warming overall, but cold snaps are becoming less severe and shorter, the latest research shows.
- That's partly because the Arctic is warming at three to four times the rate of the rest of the world.
- In other words, our global refrigerator is warming up, making it harder to get record-breaking cold for days on end when weather patterns transport Arctic air southward.
Zoom out: This winter has been especially mild across areas east of the Mississippi River. But across the West, it's been colder than average.
- A combination of La Niña, a strong polar vortex and a stubborn area of high pressure in the far western Atlantic Ocean favored a weather pattern that kept the East Coast on the warm side of winter storms, delivering snow across the Great Lakes northward into Ontario and Quebec.
The bottom line: Over the coming years, most of us can expect to feel climate change's effects most acutely during the winter months.
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