Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Scientists: Americans are becoming weather wimps

WASHINGTON — We've become weather wimps.

As the world warms, the United States is getting fewer bitter cold spells like the one that gripped much of the nation this week. So when a deep freeze strikes, scientists say, it seems more unprecedented than it really is.

An Associated Press analysis of the daily national winter temperature shows that cold extremes have happened about once every four years since 1900. Until recently.

When computer models estimated that the national average daily temperature for the Lower 48 states dropped to 17.9 degrees on Monday, it was the first deep freeze of that magnitude in 17 years, according to Greg Carbin, warning meteorologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That stretch — from Jan. 13, 1997, to Monday — is by far the longest the United States has gone without the national average plunging below 18 degrees, according to a database of daytime winter temperatures starting in January 1900.

"These types of events have actually become more infrequent than they were in the past," said Carbin, who works at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. "This is why there was such a big buzz because people have such short memories."

Said Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the private firm Weather Underground: "It's become a lot harder to get these extreme (cold) outbreaks in a planet that's warming."

And Monday's breathtaking chill? It was merely the 55th coldest day — averaged for the continental United States — since 1900. The coldest day for the Lower 48 since 1900 — as calculated by the computer models — was 12 degrees on Christmas Eve 1983, nearly 6 degrees colder than Monday.

Nine of 11 outside climate scientists and meteorologists who reviewed the data for the AP said it showed that as the world warms from heat-trapping gas spewed by the burning of fossil fuels, winters are becoming milder. The world is getting more warm extremes and fewer cold extremes, they said. And the scientists dismiss global warming skeptics who claim one or two cold days somehow disproves climate change.

Scientists: Americans are becoming weather wimps 01/09/14 [Last modified: Thursday, January 9, 2014 10:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Supreme Court term ended much different than it began

    Courts

    BC-US—Supreme Court, 1st Ld-Writethru,899

    AP Photo WX109

    People visit the Supreme Court in Washington, Monday, June 26, 2017, as justices issued their final rulings for the term, in Washington.  The Supreme Court began its term nine months ago with Merrick Garland nominated to the bench, Hillary Clinton favored to be the next president, and the court poised to be controlled by Democratic appointees for the first time in 50 years.  Things looked very different when the justices wrapped up their work this week. [Associated Press]
  2. SPC's Bill Law leaves with pride for the faculty, concern for students — and a story about hotdogs

    College

    ST. PETERSBURG — The local community college had already made a name for itself when William Law Jr. first arrived on campus in the early 1980s as a vice president. Still, the school, then named St. Petersburg Junior College, was just a shadow of the sprawling state college it would later become.

    Bill Law, outgoing St. Petersburg College president, said he is proud of the college cultivating stronger relationships with the community.
  3. Forecast: Pattern of hot, humid air and inland, late-day showers continues across bay area

    Weather

    Storms again will pop up midday around Tampa Bay, but are forecast to mostly stick inland.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day. [WTSP]
  4. UCF suspends fraternity amid sex assault and hazing claims (w/video)

    College

    ORLANDO — A University of Central Florida fraternity has been suspended while the school investigates allegations of sexual assault and hazing.

  5. Florida beats LSU, wins first College World Series title

    College

    OMAHA, Neb. — Maybe this wasn't Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan's best team. It is, however, his first national championship team.

    UF’s Nelson Maldonado, left, and Deacon Liput high-five after a run scores.