New Climate Normals

New Climate Normals

Recently, NOAA released its new 30-year normals for our changing climate, spanning the years 1991-2020. For the past decade, the normals have been based on weather observations from 1981 to 2010.

What do these “new normals” show?

A warmer and wetter climate, evidence of global warming. As many climatologists and environmentalists have been saying, a warmer and wetter climate has implications for all aspects of life—from length of growing seasons to severe weather outbreaks.

Global warming means an increase in wildfires, floods, tornadoes and hurricanes. More weather extremes, and fluctuations in the polar vortex.

The warming climate affects all living things on earth, from the coral reefs to polar bears and migratory birds, mosquitos, and viruses. While human activity has contributed to global warming, it is not too late for us to make changes for the future.

Denial is not an option. Delay and debate are not solutions.

The pandemic has made some things very clear. This is one world, with many different people, interconnected and interdependent, but not equal. It is the most vulnerable ones who suffer. It doesn’t have to be this way.

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  • The points you make are true. What I question is the use of "normal" in the statistical sense. It surely isn't back to 1872 (supposedly the start of weather records), and while it may be 30 years, until a couple of days ago it was 39 to 9 years ago.

  • In reply to jack:

    Thank you, Jack. I think that they are using normals to mean averages. According to NOAA, these are 30-year averages of temperatures and precipitation. These are the most recent records, and NOAA is comparing changes going back to the beginning of the 20th century. The warming trend is clear.

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    I was making more of a "figures don't lie and liars figure" argument. Other statistics are similar. For instance, I wondered about the covid test positivity average, especially the divisor, when I wasn't tested for over a year, and then because of a medical condition I was tested once or twice a week, and besides it is a 7 day rolling average. Similarly, here, the benchmark has moved.For instance, the horrible winter of 1979 apparently no longer counts in the averages, although it counts in the records.

  • In reply to jack:

    Excellent points, Jack. I was wondering about those COVID positivity tests, too.

    Yes, these are rolling averages. If the winter of 1979 is not counted in the averages now, the polar vortex deep freezes are.

    I am also wondering about the intensity of storms--they use the enhanced Fujita scale for tornadoes, and there's been talk about adding Category 6 hurricanes.

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    Category six? I'll take my chances with blizzards, thank you! As for the 1872 figures, blame the cow or whatever started the Great Chicago Fire -- everything until October 1871 would have burned.

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    Thanks so much for reading.
    There are other kinds of weather records--ice cores and tree rings, for example. Also personal accounts, like the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius...

    Speaking of blizzards, I think there have been revisions in calculating wind chills, too.

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    The government site has an incomprehensible formula, but I also heard that the wind chill was empirical.

  • In reply to jack:

    Oh my, yes! That's very complicated. There are wind chill charts, where they have figured this out for you. Still, I seem to remember one night in 1982 where they said the wind chill by the Lake was -90. Later, I heard it was revised to -60. It was the coldest cold I have ever experienced!

    Yes--NWS revised the wind chill index in 2001. Here is the link---https://www.weather.gov/ffc/wci

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