Forecasting Change: Winters are getting warmer

Winter warming most extreme in north, east

Since 1970

ORLANDO, Fla. – Now that hurricane season is over, we can turn our attention to the upcoming winter.

Specifically on Forecasting Change, we will look at how winter is changing.

The lower 48 states in winter are not as cold as it used to be. Look at this graphic below that shows winter warming since 1970. As you can see, winter is the fastest-warming season for most of the U.S.

Since 1970

In the Orlando area, we are no exception. Compared to the rest of the country we have great, warm and wonderful winters. But over the last 50 years, we have increased our number of above-normal days by 13. That is almost two more full weeks of above normal days. That many days starts to change our normal into a “new normal” of warmer winters altogether.

Warm winter days

On average, the winter temperature in Orlando has gone up by almost 3 degrees.

Winter warming

While you might be inclined to think, “What can a warmer winter hurt?” The truth is warmer winters means an increase in pests like mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, ants and termites.

It spells trouble for parts of the country that rely on snowfall and snow packs for water supply and winter sports. It also plays havoc with crops that need colder seasons. Fruit trees, like apple, cherry and peach trees, need a minimum amount of “winter chill hours” before they can produce fruit in the spring and summer.

So remember, the upcoming days of warm, above-normal temperatures for the first week of December feel like paradise, but it is all part of a changing climate that is not like paradise at all.


About the Author:

Tom Sorrells is News 6's Emmy award winning chief meteorologist. He pinpoints storms across Central Florida to keep residents safe from dangerous weather conditions.