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Winter getting warmer despite Louisville weather this week

 Ice leftover after someone scraped their vehicle on Tuesday Jan. 31, 2023 in Louisville.
Ryan Van Velzer
Ice leftover after someone scraped their vehicle on Tuesday Jan. 31, 2023 in Louisville.

Every week Wave 3 meteorologist Tawana Andrew breaks down what we know and what we don't about the climate and weather here in Louisville.

Bill Burton: It's time for us to take a look at the Science Behind the Forecast as I am joined by WAVE 3 meteorologist Tawana Andrew. Good morning, Tawana.

Tawana Andrew: Good morning. We have some intensely cold air on the way, but we're talking about a different aspect of our winter temperatures.

BB: We will try to keep you warm in a different way. Because despite this cold snap that's going to hit us soon, winters are getting warmer. So that's our topic today. warmer winters. What do we need to know?

TA: Well, of course, everyone's always like, well, you know, climate change isn't a thing because you know, it's cold today. That's not how things actually work. So a warming winter overall, when you look at the average temperatures, can have an impact on everything from agriculture to public health, to water supplies in some parts of the country. So in meteorological winter, so we're talking basically from December through February, that is the fastest warming season for most of the United States. In fact, the northern portions of the country have seen the most significant and rapid warming since 1970. And the Northeast, and the Great Lakes have been the most effected. So there was one study that dove into everything looked at 240 locations across the United States. And of those 240 locations, 95% have seen the average number of warmer than normal days increase in the last five decades. In fact, I dove into Louisville's numbers, and Louisville now sees 15 more days per winter with above average temperatures compared to what we saw in 1970. 15. That is half a month. And then for Louisville, overall, the average winter temperature has increased by 5.2 degrees Fahrenheit between 1970 and 2023. So everyone being like, hey, it seems like winter is not getting as cold as it used to. No, it's not your mind. That is actually what we're seeing as we look at the trends, and of course, warmer average winter days does not mean we won't see those cold snaps. But the number of sub freezing nights that we are seeing across the country that has fallen over the past five decades and Louisville on average, we see 19 fewer nights below 32 degrees Fahrenheit now compared to 1970. So 19 fewer nights with those colder temperatures. And the cold snaps, of course will continue as we're still going to have a winter, but they're not going to be as long as what we usually saw it for Louisville. With those numbers. The cold snaps have shrunk on average, by seven days, that's a week less of that frigid air. Some people really love that idea, including myself, but overall, it's not the best for our climate. Now the shorter cold spells and the warmer than average temperatures can actually be a good thing, especially when you're looking at your wallet in the winter because that reduces the amount of electricity and natural gas needed to heat our homes. And that saves us a decent amount of money. But on the flip side, we're going to have to use that savings in the summer months when we need more energy to cool our buildings with those above average temperatures that we're also seeing in the summer.

BB: But now we have a better understanding of why winter is, in fact, getting warmer overall thanks to the latest edition of Science Behind the Forecast with WAVE 3 meteorologist Tawana Andrew. Thanks for the knowledge, Tawana.

TA: Of course.

This transcript has been edited for clarity

Bill Burton is the Morning Edition host for LPM. Email Bill at bburton@lpm.org.

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