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The Carolinas had a warmer winter than normal due to climate change | WFAE 90.7

The Carolinas had a warmer winter than normal due to climate change | WFAE 90.7

Forecasters predicted a warmer and drier winter in the Carolinas last fall, and that’s exactly what we got. This trend dates back at least to the 1970s. Federal weather data actually shows that winters are heating up faster than any other season in the region.

Scientists claim it’s yet more evidence of the need for global warming to be reduced by greenhouse gas emissions.

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Andrew Pershing, Climate Central’s director of climate science.

“Winter is the most warming season. This is a time when both in the Southeast region as well as nationally, we tend to get very solid trends, very clear signals,” stated Andrew Pershing, director for climate science at Climate Central. Climate Central is a Princeton, New Jersey-based organization of scientists and journalists focusing on climate change.

According to data from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, winter temperatures in major cities of the Carolinas were 2 to 3 degrees higher than normal. This is the 20-year average between 1991 and 2020. This is a comparison of temperatures between December and February.

The trend for warmer winters continues into 2021. This was the sixth-warmest record worldwideThe fourth-warmest in the U.S. since 1895.

The season began with Unusually warm DecemberIt is 6-9 degrees higher than the Southeast average. It was slightly lower than normal in January and then returned to 2-3 degrees above normal in February.

However, winter still happens. North Carolina received up to 5 inches of snow during a January storm.

“Winter is just a highly unpredictable season. Pershing stated that you still have wild swings. “This winter seemed even more in that highly variable mode,” Pershing said. “Many places, including the Carolinas were unusually hot in December, and then January was slightly cooler.”

However, temperatures were still above normal.

For example, Charlotte’s winter average was 3.3 degrees Fahrenheit higher than normal. (Normal refers to the average of the previous 20 years. Similar results were found in Raleigh (+3.1 degrees), Wilmington ( (+3.4 degrees), Columbia, South Carolina, and Charleston, South Carolina. Both cities were more than 3.5 degrees above the normal. (See table.)

Another way to see the long-term warming trend is by looking at the cumulative increase of average winter temperatures over recent decades. Since 1970s Raleigh’s winter average temperature has risen 4.7 degrees, Greensboro’s 4.4 degrees, Greenville, South Carolina, 3.9 degrees, and Charlotte and Charleston, 3.8 degrees, respectively.

Pershing stated that winter’s average winter temperature increases are higher than any other season.

The national trend is mirrored in the Carolinas. According to NOAA’s Winter Temperatures Report, temperatures in winter were much higher than average in most of the lower 48 States. According to NOAA, The This winter, the average temperature in the contiguous U.S. (excluding Alaska and Hawaii) was 34.8°F, or 2.5°F above average. This is among the warmest third of winters ever recorded. NOAA.

Although higher temperatures are a plus, they can also pose problems.

“We’ve heard from many people who have spoken to farmers, particularly in the Southeast. The plants start to grow early during warm winters. Pershing explained that it takes just one day of cold to set things back.

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Frost can cause damage to crops or disrupt spring blooms, as in the case of Washington, D.C.’s cherry blossoms.

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This story first appeared in WFAE’s weekly climate newsletter, published on Thursdays. Subscribe at

WFAE’s climate coverage is supported by our members, the Salamander Fund of Triangle Community Foundation, and the l Earth Fund. They are both dedicated to improving local reporting on climate change.

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