NOAA Releases New Climate Normals Showing the US Is Getting Hotter

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The NOAA released new climate maps this week for the US showing that over the past decade most of the country became hotter, the West is getting drier and the East is wetter, while the South the experiencing a mix of both.

Most of the US is getting hotter

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released maps showing new climate normals for the United States this week reflecting  the past decade, 1991-2020, which studied the US annual mean temperature changes and the annual precipitation total/changes. The NOAA releases climate normals every 10 years, which reflects data collected from the past 30 years, CNN reported.

When it comes to temperature, the data shows that America is getting warmer. The NOAA annual mean temperature map shows that the temperature in the US over the last 30 years has increased between 0.5 and 1.0 degrees Fahrenheit in most places throughout the US and as much as 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit in some parts of the West and South.

Temperatures have changed so drastically in Fairbanks, Alaska, that it has been re-categorized as a warm summer continental climate in the Köppen climate classification, Science Direct and CNN reported. Its average temperature for May increase to over 50 degrees, prompting its reclassification.

Similarly, Washington, D.C. now averages 22 days of 90 degrees in a row. In comparison to the 1981-2010 dataset, the high temperature in DC never averaged 90 degrees, peaking at 89 degrees for 16 days.

West drier, East wetter, South a mix of both

Precipitation levels show two other extremes of climate change for the United States. The West is becoming drier, and the East is becoming wetter, while the South is experiencing a mix of both extremes.

The NOAA annual precipitation map looking at the past 30 years between 1991-2020 shows the eastern US becoming significantly wetter, while the West has become markedly drier, particularly in California.

In the West, a significant portion of California and the western coasts of Oregon and Washington have seen precipitation fall by as much as -5 to -4 inches per decade.

In the east, particularly over most of Arkansas and Kentucky, and the southern regions of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, precipitation has increased by as much as 5 inches per decade.

However, for the South, the region is experiencing a bit of both. Central, southern and southeastern Texas has become drier, while parts of eastern Texas are wetter. Northern Louisiana is wetter, while the southeastern region is significantly drier. The Florida Panhandle is drier, as is southern Florida, while Western Florida is wetter. Similar effects are found in other southern states such as Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia.