• 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

    Lone entry in Alaska State Fair pumpkin weigh-off destroyed in mishap

    by Shannon Ballard on Sep 01, 16:38

    Alaska is home to some freakishly huge vegetables, and farmers have tended to them for months in hopes of winning big at this year’s Alaska State Fair. Dale Marshall’s goal was to grow the state’s largest pumpkin. At last year’s weigh-off he was just four pounds short of the 1,287-pound record. “The pumpkin has to […]

  • News

    Obama in Seward: Exit Glacier confirms climate change concern

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Sep 01, 14:49

    Day 2 of President Barack Obama’s trip to Alaska began with a breakfast stop in Anchorage at Snow City Cafe. The president then boarded Marine One and he and the air convoy headed to Seward. Touching down close to 11:30 a.m., Obama was greeted by Jean Bardarson, mayor of the City of Seward, and Bert Frost, regional […]

  • DayBreak

    Travel Tuesday: Labor Day weekend getaways

    by Daybreak Staff on Sep 01, 12:06

    The unofficial end to summer is right around the corner. Still, Alaskans won’t hesitate to take advantage of the upcoming Labor Day weekend. Family fun expert Erin Kirkland joined Daybreak Tuesday with her Top 5 list of destinations and activities for the long weekend ahead: Camping and hiking in Denali National Park and Preserve “Hurricane Turn” […]

  • Lifestyle

    UPDATE: ConocoPhillips says Alaska will be affected by expected job cuts

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Sep 01, 11:35

    Energy company ConocoPhillips has confirmed that it is making more cuts to its 18,100-member global workforce — and Alaska will again be affected by those cuts. The company confirmed Tuesday afternoon that it expects approximately 10 percent of its global workforce to be impacted through those reductions. ConocoPhillips says the biggest proportion of the cuts will […]

  • News

    President Obama grabs breakfast to-go at Anchorage’s Snow City Cafe

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Sep 01, 11:23

    Diners at Anchorage’s well-known Snow City Cafe were greeted to a special surprise Tuesday morning: a visit from President Barack Obama. A crowd gathered outside the restaurant, eager to catch a glimpse of the President as he stopped in to grab a to-go order before his scheduled visit to Exit Glacier in Seward. And what […]

  • Crime

    Anchorage police searching for man in connection with overnight crime spree

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Sep 01, 10:46

    Anchorage police are looking for a man they believe is connected to a rash of crimes overnight, including vehicle theft and robbery. Around midnight Tuesday, Anchorage Police Department dispatch received a report about a person “possibly using drugs” inside a white sport-utility vehicle near Third Avenue and Lane Street in East Anchorage. When officers approached […]

  • News

    White House: Alaska’s Medicaid expansion ‘right decision’

    by Associated Press on Sep 01, 10:12

    The White House is praising Alaska Gov. Bill Walker’s expansion of Medicaid over the wishes of the Republican-led Legislature, calling it the “right decision.” Alaska on Tuesday became the 29th state to expand Medicaid. White House spokesman Josh Earnest, who is traveling in Alaska with President Barack Obama, said expansion prioritizes “the heath of the […]

  • Weather

    Daybreak weather, Sept. 1

    by Rachael Penton on Sep 01, 8:53

    Anchorage Sunny with a high temperature around 60 degrees. N winds 5-20 mph. Kenai and Prince William Sound Mostly sunny with highs in the upper 50s to lower 60s. Breezy N winds 15-30 mph through early afternoon. Southeast Morning showers, followed by some afternoon clearing. Highs in the upper 50s. Interior Partly sunny with isolated […]