THE NEW NORMAL: New Climate Normals Released


ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WBOY) – On May 4th, 2021, the way the world looks at “average weather” changed for the upcoming decade.

Why is that?

NOAA’s National Center for Environmental Information (NCEI) released an updated set of average highs, lows, and precipitation values for the United States.

According to the NCEI, the entire country has warmed in the past decades since we last evaluated our climate’s status.

Taking a look from the early 1900s and comparing it to the climate’s average over the past 30 years, much of the northern half of the country has warmed anywhere from two to four degrees or greater Fahrenheit in their annual average temperature.

Courtesy: Climate Central

Much of that change has occurred over the past decade where most of the United States saw average warming of 0.25-1°F in their annual average temperature.

What about north-central West Virginia?

The consensus of warming rings true here in the northern half of the Mountain State, as well.

Courtesy: Climate Central

Over the past 30 years, north-central West Virginia has seen anywhere from a 0.5-1°F difference in temperature compared to the 20th century average temperature.

West Virginia has gotten wetter as a whole, as well.

A map of the contiguous United States showing the pattern of annual precipitation change for 1991–2020 Normals minus the 1981–2010 Normals. Colors range from brown for drier normals (-10%) through tan and light green near zero difference to green for wetter normals (+10%). The Southwest U.S. (CA-NV-UT-CO-AZ-NM) is 8-15% drier, while most of the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains is at least somewhat wetter, with between 5-15% wetter in North Central U.S. (MT, WY, ND, SD, MN, IA, WI) across to the Appalachian Mountains and Mid-Atlantic U.S. (IN, OH, KY, TN, WV, PA, MD, VA, NC).
Courtesy: NCEI

On average, West Virginia has seen a five percent increase in precipitation from the period of time 1991-2020, compared to 1981-2010.

Much of Appalachia and the Ohio Valley has seen anywhere from a zero-to-ten percent increase or greater over the same time period.

For more information on the increasing annual average temperatures and precipitation, please visit the NCEI’s website.

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