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Many Americans have grown accustomed to moderate winters over the last decade or so, and the bitter cold of this winter so far has caught some people off-guard, especially in the usually warm southern states. Are these recent cold temperatures breaking records, or does it just feel cold because the last few winters have been warmer? Read on below to find out!
In some cases
While temperatures in many parts of the South and Midwest have certainly been lower than usual, they’re not as record-setting as you might think. So far in 2022, temperatures seem to be averaging roughly 6°F lower than the usual winter, which should be no cause for alarm.
There have been some cases where record lows have been recorded, but it’s not on a large scale. So far this year, there have been 632 reported record lows in the United States. This number may sound large, but it comes from data from every temperature station in the whole country. While it may seem that this chilly weather is happening everywhere, over 1100 record highs have been recorded so far this year by this same group of temperature stations.
Which states are being affected?
Almost the whole country has experienced some colder temperatures than usual this winter, but some states are being hit particularly hard. The Southeast has experienced some days with the lowest temperatures in over a decade, especially in Florida and Georgia.
Northern states aren’t immune to the colder weather, with many states in the Midwest and Northeast also reporting colder temperatures than usual. The change feels more drastic in sunny Southern states since these areas are used to winters still being warm.
Why is it so cold?
So why does it feel so cold? Some experts postulate that climate change may be the cause. The average winter 100 years ago was roughly 5°F lower than it has been for the last few decades, so a winter like this one now feels especially cold, although historically, it isn’t unprecedented.
While these temperatures aren’t historical lows, many cities are reporting their coldest temperatures within the last decade, so many who have grown accustomed to the warmer weather are feeling the cold more than if this weather had been more common in recent years.
2021 was extremely warm
2021 overall was one of the hottest years on record. Most of the data shows that the last decade has been the hottest in human history and almost 1.5°C hotter than average temperatures in the 19th century. This shift may be among the factors that has contributed to the high number of wildfires in the Southwest over the last few years, so this change in temperature is not without its consequences.
While it may feel especially cold this year, this effect is primarily because most winters have gotten warmer, so cold weather like this is rarer than it was in the past. Remember to bundle up when going outside, and stay safe!