ORLANDO, Fla. – Just like the U.S. census, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration releases an analysis every 10 years to update the average values for temperature, rainfall and other conditions.
This analysis averages data from across the country during the past 30 years, which then is used to represent the official U.S. Climate Normals.
With this recent update, our average values will now reflect the “new normal” between 1991-2020 for the next decade.
Why are these updates needed?
According to NOAA, “The normals are the basis for judging how daily, monthly and annual climate conditions compare to what’s normal for a specific location in today’s climate.”
These small but significant changes can give us a better look at how our Earth and the climate are changing and that is certainly true when it comes to our temperatures.
Changes in temperatures:
The 30-year average temperature for the 48 contiguous states climbed a full degree to a record high of 53.3 degrees in the most recent 30 years.
These maps show that the country has experienced its two largest temperature increases during the two most recent 30-year cycles.
Changes in precipitation:
Along with the country getting warmer, many areas are also wetter. Data shows the national average going up to 31.31 inches for the 30-year average, which is up by 0.34 inches from the previous time range.
According to NOAA, at least some of that wetness relative to the 20th century average is linked to the overall climate warming and “wetting” of the atmosphere that’s occurred as rising temperatures cause more water to evaporate from the ocean and land surface.
These maps shows the new normal getting wetter in the eastern and central U.S. while drier conditions prevail in much of the west.