60 Degree December?
January 7th, 2022 marks the first notable snowfall this winter. But not only has it not snowed until early January, this year the winter temperatures have been warmer than ever before.
Beginning in October, temperatures were abnormal. The average temperature in the month was 59.4 degrees Fahrenheit, with some days reaching 70 degrees.
In December, the first half of the month saw temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees, causing delayed openings for many ski resorts in the Pocono Mountains. 2021 was named the second warmest December, just behind 2015.
The whole country saw the same unusually high temperatures, and in some states, the effects are more apparent.
In Texas, 2021 was the warmest December since 1889. The average temperature was 53.3 degrees when in most years, the average is only 46.9 degrees. The increase in temperature could have harmful effects. Texas State Climatologist commented on the issue, stating "we're averaging about two degrees warmer now than we were back in the 20th century," according to Nielsen-Gammon.
Furthermore, these temperatures harm wildlife. Laura Weiser Erlandson, a professor of biology at Texas A&M, explained, "the warmer temperatures will decrease the amount of mortality that we normally see with insects, just based on exposure to cold temperatures." For cattle, problems also arise. With winter grasses not growing properly, the animals do not have anything to eat.
These concerning temperatures are not predicted to improve in the coming years. In the last century, temperatures in Pennsylvania increased by 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, and are expected to warm another 5.9 degrees by 2050.