ORLANDO, Fla. – The start of the summer season got lost last week with the threat of tropical weather. This week on Forecasting Change, I want to focus on the warming of the summer season. Our media partners at Climate Central have analyzed the summer data from the last five decades at 246 locations in the United States. Here is some of what they found.
In Orlando, our summer average temperature has been on an up and down ride, but shows an increase of almost two degrees since 1970.
Part of what is driving the average summer temperature to rise is the number of days we now have that are above average. That number is way up during the same time period compared to 52 summers ago. This graphic below shows that we are now having 14 days, that is two full weeks, with above average temperatures.
And, as you might guess, Florida is not alone. Across the county, 96% of the locations had an increase in average summer temperatures and 53% of those locations warmed by 2 degrees or more.
And some places are really warmer. Since 1970, 37 of the locations have had 30 or more summer days considered above normal.
While most people in Florida will say, “At least I don’t have to shovel the heat!” or maybe, “Hey, I like it warmer, that is why I live here!” the truth is the heat is a killer. Between 1979 to 2018, more than 11,000 people died in the U.S. due to heat-related illnesses.
The heat can also make poor air quality worse by trapping harmful pollutants close to the surface and causing ground-level ozone. When that happens, it becomes a big issue for those with asthma and other lung diseases.