Mar 4, 2024 - News

San Francisco's cold streaks are getting shorter

Longest streak of cold winter days in San Francisco
Data: Climate Central; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The winter may be storming, but cold weather streaks in San Francisco have gotten nine days shorter on average since 1970, per a new analysis from Climate Central, a climate research and communications nonprofit.

Why it matters: Few people love chilled-to-the-bone cold snaps, but extended periods of chilly weather are key for some farmers and winter sports lovers and for building essential snowpack.

Reality check: Prolonged cold snaps still happen — San Francisco's longest of 2023 lasted 12 days.

Flashback: The city's longest cold streak between 1970 and 2023 came in 1985, lasting 35 days.

The big picture: Cold streaks are largely getting shorter on average nationwide, according to the Climate Central report.

What they did: Climate Central defines a "winter cold streak" as "at least two consecutive December-February days with average temperatures below the 1991-2020 winter normal average temperature" at a given location.

What they found: "Winter's longest cold streaks have gotten shorter since 1970 in 98% of 240 U.S. locations analyzed," per the report.

  • "Nearly half of the locations analyzed ... have seen their longest winter cold streaks shrink by at least one week since 1970."
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