NWA's in the thick of a record-breaking warm winter
This winter has been Northwest Arkansas' warmest on record, with an average temperature from December through February of 43.2°F.
Context: That's 8.2 degrees warmer than the average in winter 1970, 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 United States.
- About 80% of the country now has at least seven more winter days with above-normal temperatures than in 1970, per Climate Central.
Driving the news: Not only are winters warming overall, but cold snaps are growing less severe and shorter in duration, 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 heating up.
Of note: Meteorological winter is already over, running from December through February annually, per NOAA.
Zoom out: This winter has been especially mild across areas east of the Mississippi River. But throughout the West, it's been colder than average, reflected in the balance of daily record highs to daily record lows.
- Preliminary NOAA data processed by Climate Central shows there have been 4,857 daily record highs set or tied in the lower 48 states this winter, and 4,421 daily record lows set or tied.
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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