Breakdown: Why warmer winters could mean more critters

Published: Feb. 3, 2020 at 3:47 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) -Temperatures from 2019 were found to be the second hottest year on Earth and the 2010′s came in as the second hottest decade on record.

The extended heat seems to be the most noticeable in the summer when there can be times where it feels like the heat won’t end. Research has found that winters in the US are the fastest-warming season. We still, of course, get cold days in winter but studies are finding that winters are not as cold as previous years. More specifically, cold snaps in winter aren’t lasting as long.

Data was observed on consecutive winter days, the research found that days below normal have decreased across the U.S. since 1970. There were 242 stations analyzed and of those 242 stations, 96 percent were found to experience short cold snaps, with the average trend across stations showing a decrease by almost five days. Memphis has also experienced a reduction when it comes to consecutive cold days.

The areas experiencing the shorter cold snaps weren’t concentrated in any one section of the country. Places like Las Vegas showed the greatest losses with around 18 fewer cold days, followed by Topeka, Kansas with 13 fewer cold days, Chico, California came in with 13 fewer days and both St Louis and Philadelphia had 12 fewer cold days.

Warmer winters may seem like a good thing to some, but experts believe that these warmer winter days can come with consequences that aren’t always immediately noticeable. Cold temperatures are important in cutting down on pest populations.

Warmer winters have shown that many parts of the country have experienced a longer than normal mosquito season. The colder periods are important for plant development. Experts point out, fruit trees (such as apple, peach and cherry trees) are dependent on the time of dormancy in order to produce fruit the following spring and summer.

Some local communities also rely on cold weather for the success of winter-based businesses, such as ski resorts, as well as for traditions like that of ice fishing.

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