It’s Warm. Who Knows Why?
December 17, 2015
It could be innythang…
Of 259 newspaper stories that touched on December’s warmth between December 1 and 14, 25 made the link to El Niño, but only seven made the tie to climate change. Network news coverage has been no more willing to connect the dots. Of 67 mentions of December warmth, six linked it to El Niño, but only one talked about the climate connection.
Warmth Burns Hundreds of Records
Much of the East Coast and Midwest have seen record-breaking December warmth. Through December 12, nearly 700 warm records have been set, compared to only about 120 cold records, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information.
A series of cities broke records over the weekend, from Mississippi to Wisconsin to New York. On Saturday, Cleveland shattered its high temperature record by seven degrees. Then on Sunday, Philadelphia broke its record by six degrees and Dubuque, Iowa—943 miles to the west—broke its record by five degrees.
On Monday, Buffalo hit an incredible 71 degrees, destroying the old record of 64. The extended warm spell has left Buffalo with no snow to date, breaking the previous record for latest snow of December 3 that dates back to the 1800s. Buffalo usually sees its first measurable snow by November 8, but there’s stillno snow in the long-range forecast. The cycle has even become self-sustaining. “Without snow on the ground, the feeble December sun can warm things up much more efficiently,” Eric Holthaus says at Slate (12/14/15).
It’s too early to determine December’s place in the record books, but 2015 is on pace to be the warmest year on record. October “marked the sixth consecutive month a monthly global temperature record has been broken and was also the greatest departure from average for any month in the 1,630 months of recordkeeping,” according to NOAA.