Mar 13, 2023 - News

Richmond just saw one of its warmest winters on record

Data: Climate Central; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The winter of 2022–23 has been Richmond's second warmest on record, with average temperatures from December through February of 45.1°F — 11°F warmer than those of 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), wreak havoc on crops and gardens, and spell disaster for towns built around skiing, snowboarding and similar pursuits.

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 when temperatures are cold enough.
  • 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 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.

Yes, but: March has been unseasonably cool, and we may end up with a very rare instance of this month being cooler than February, per RTD meteorologist Sean Sublette.

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. This is reflected in the balance of daily record highs to daily record lows.

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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