Mar 1, 2024 - News

Seattle's cold streaks are getting shorter

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

High temperatures in Seattle may be a few degrees below average right now, but data shows our winter cold snaps aren't lasting as long as in past decades.

By the numbers: Cold weather streaks in Seattle have gotten four 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; Seattle's longest of 2023 lasted 13 days.

Flashback: The city's longest cold streak between 1970 and 2023 came in 1988, lasting 33 days.

The fine print: 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.

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

  • "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."
avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Seattle.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Seattle stories

No stories could be found

Seattlepostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Seattle.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more