Forecasting Change: More ‘Growing Degree Days’ ahead

Longer growing season means more pests

Growing Degree Days (Climate Central)

ORLANDO, Fla. – We are coming off of a very warm week here in Central Florida. This week we have been either setting new records, tying records or getting close to record highs. This weekend, things will change, but only for a little while.

This week on Forecasting Change we look at the warming trends of the last 50 years and what it means to our Growing Degree Days.

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Growing Degree Days measure heat accumulation over the growing season. They are an important indicator of plant and pest development. While it might seem to be a good thing that we have a longer and warmer season to grow things, it presents problems of heat stress, drought and loads of pollen and pests such as mosquitoes and ticks.

This graphic below shows the increase in the GDD since 1970 in Orlando.

Growing degree days

The increase is also impressive in Tallahassee, seen here.

Growing degree days

And we are part of the national trend, as well.

According to our partners at Climate Central, between 1970 and 2021, the number of GDD increased at a rate of 97% among 246 analyzed stations in the U.S.

Most of the increase in GDD has been recorded in the South, Southwest and West.

With the warm start we have had lately, it appears our trend over the past five decades will continue through 2022.

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.