• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
3m 19s

What states are warming the fastest?

By Associated Press 6:59 PM June 4, 2014

WASHINGTON – The United States is warming fastest at two of its corners, in the Northeast and the Southwest, an analysis of federal temperature records shows.

Northeastern states – led by Maine and Vermont – have gotten the hottest in the last 30 years in annual temperature, gaining 2.5 degrees on average. But Southwestern states have heated up the most in the hottest months: The average New Mexico summer is 3.4 degrees warmer now than in 1984; in Texas, the dog days are 2.8 degrees hotter.

The contiguous United States’ annual average temperature has warmed by 1.2 degrees since 1984, with summers getting 1.6 degrees hotter. But that doesn’t really tell you how hot it’s gotten for most Americans. While man-made greenhouse gases warm the world as a whole, weather is supremely local. Some areas have gotten hotter than others because of atmospheric factors and randomness, climate scientists say.

“In the United States, it isn’t warming equally,” said Kelly Redmond, climatologist at the Western Regional Climate Center in Reno, Nevada. “Be careful about extrapolating from your own backyard to the globe.”

For example, while people in the East and Midwest were complaining about a cold winter this year, Redmond’s Nevada and neighboring California were having some of their warmest winter months ever.

To determine what parts of the country have warmed the most, The Associated Press analyzed National Climatic Data Center temperature trends in the lower 48 states, 192 cities and 344 smaller regions within the states. Climate scientists suggested 1984 as a starting date because 30 years is a commonly used time period and 1984, which had an average temperature, is not a cherry-picked year to skew a trend either way. The trend was calculated by the NCDC using the least squares regression method, which is a standard statistical tool.

All but one of the lower 48 states have warmed since 1984. North Dakota is the lone outlier, and cooled slightly. Ten states – Maine, Vermont, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Delaware, New Mexico, Connecticut and New York – have gotten at least 2 degrees warmer in the past 30 years.

Since 1984, 92 percent of the more than 500 cities and smaller regions within states have warmed and nearly two-thirds of them have warmed by at least a degree. The regions that have warmed the most have been New York’s St. Lawrence Valley, northeastern Vermont, northern Maine, the northeastern plains of New Mexico and western Vermont, all of which have warmed by more than 2.5 degrees.

Cities – where data is a tad more suspect because they are based on a single weather station and readings can be affected by urban heating and development – see the greatest variation. Carson City, Nevada, and Boise, Idaho, are the cities that have seen the most warming – both year-round and in summer – since 1984. Both cities’ average annual temperatures have jumped more than 4 degrees in just 30 years, while Dickinson, North Dakota, has dropped the most, a bit more than 2 degrees.

The Southwest warming, especially in the summer, seems to be driven by dryness, because when there is little water the air and ground warm up faster, said Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

“Heat and drought are a vicious cycle that has been hitting the Southwest hard in recent years,” Hayhoe said.

And in the Northeast, the temperatures are pushed up by milder winters and warm water in the North Atlantic, said Kevin Trenberth, climate analysis chief at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. And less snow on the ground over the winter often means warmer temperatures, said Alan Betts, a climate scientist at Atmospheric Research in Pittsford, Vermont.

The Southeast and Northwest were among the places that warmed the least. In the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, industrial sulfur particle pollutants from coal burning may be reflecting sunlight, thus countering heating caused by coal’s carbon dioxide emissions, said Pennsylvania State University professor Michael Mann.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Officers cited for wasting deer, ducks in Juneau

    by Associated Press on Oct 23, 10:10

    The Coast Guard says it will take additional steps to teach personnel about local hunting laws after two petty officers were issued citations for wasting game. The Juneau Empire (http://bit.ly/1tfG8cW) reports anonymous tips led Alaska State Trooper wildlife officers to issue citations to 26-year-old James Schmidt and 27-year-old Chris Hyde. They are scheduled for arraignment […]

  • Crime

    ‘Alaskan Bush People’ stars charged with PFD fraud

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 23, 9:14

    A family that stars in the Discovery Channel show “Alaskan Bush People” is facing a slew of charges for felony Permanent Fund Dividend fraud, court documents reveal. Billy Brown, his wife and their seven children are featured in the show that describes them as “born and raised in the wild,” according to Discovery’s website. “They’ve […]

  • Weather

    Daybreak weather, Oct. 23

    by Janessa Webb on Oct 23, 8:08

    Sunshine continues today with highs in the upper-30s. Some clouds will start to move in Friday into Saturday with a chance of flurries. Overnight lows in the mid-20s. Enjoy the day before the things start to change.

  • News

    Mining company eyes ski area for gold mine

    by Associated Press on Oct 23, 7:45

    The oldest downhill ski area near Fairbanks may be turned into a gold mine. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://bit.ly/1xdocO8) reports a Vancouver mining company wants to dig for gold on land occupied by Mount Aurora Skiland. The property is owned by the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority. The state-owned corporation manages state land to produce […]

  • News

    Alaska Natives rally for subsistence rights

    by Kate McPherson on Oct 23, 7:32

    Hundreds of Alaska Natives and supporters rallied on the park strip in Anchorage Wednesday in support of subsistence hunting and fishing. They came from across the state, many in town to attend the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention. The message coming from the rally was clear: Alaska Natives want an equal voice at the table […]

  • News

    Alaska Federation of Natives convention theme: Rise as One

    by Rhonda McBride on Oct 23, 7:12

    Traffic at the airport and Anchorage roads pick up. Restaurants are busy. Hotels are full, a sure sign the state’s largest convention is about to get underway. The warm-up to the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention started Monday with the Elders and Youth Conference. Many of those attendees will also be at AFN. Add thousands […]

  • News

    Riders put up ‘ghost bike’ in Anchorage for fallen cyclist

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 23, 0:13

    Cyclists hope that you see a new memorial now up in one Anchorage park. Wednesday night, friends and family dedicated a “ghost bike” in honor of Jeff Dusenbury. They put it up at Spruce Park where he was hit and killed this summer. Family and friends say putting up the memorial is like a pedal […]

  • News

    Mat-Su community responds to Rep. Young’s remarks on suicide

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 22, 23:47

    U.S. Rep. Don Young is not a person afraid to say what’s on his mind. And his latest comments aren’t sitting well with residents in the Mat-Su Valley. Wasilla High School is still grieving after a student died by suicide last week. Tuesday, the 81-year-old congressman made an appearance at an assembly at the high […]