Back Print

Ask Mr. Answer Person: "What's with all this weird weather?"

Posted: Wed, Mar 8, 2017 2:31 PM

(Dave asks: "This sure has been a strange winter!  Highs in the upper 60s on Monday, snow or sleet on Tuesday, then 45 mile an hour wind gusts on Wednesday.  What's with all this weird weather?"):

Mr. Answer Person says: "Let's stick with the facts.  You can't use three days' worth of weather to talk about what's happening to our climate.  But you CAN talk about the overall trends in our climate and say 'The last three days are consistent with the long-term trends.'

What are the long-term trends?  First of all, temperatures are getting hotter.  Eight of the top 10 warmest years on record in the United States have occurred since 1998 and all of the top 10 warmest years on record worldwide have occurred since 1998.  Mr. AP will let you begin your own discussion of what has caused this! 

Secondly, a higher percentage of precipitation in the United States has come in the form of intense one-day storms. In the U.S. nine of the top 10 years for extreme one-day precipitation events have occurred since 1990.

These trends have held true in Decorah.  We know all about "intense one-day storms!"  We also know temperatures have been rising--the average temperature this February in Decorah was 32.1 degrees.  That's 12 degrees higher than the 124-year average. 

What should be done about this?  That's a policy question and that's not the point of this answer.  The data says the weather is getting warmer and storms are getting stronger.  That's true in Decorah, in the United States and across much of the world."