NOAA reveals "new normals" for U.S. climate as average temps are heating up

Ivana Saric
·1 min read

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration revealed new standards on Tuesday for what an average or "normal" U.S. climate looks like, showing average temperatures in the U.S. rising significantly.

Why it matters: Shifting the baseline for normal temperatures highlights just how quickly climate change is affecting conditions on Earth.

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  • Updating these standards is important for helping shape government policies and what your local weather forecaster says the "average" high temperature is on a given date.

The big picture: NOAA releases climate averages for the preceding 30-year period every 10 years. The "climate normals" released Tuesday cover 1991-2020 and indicate that the U.S. climate has warmed, and also become wetter over time.

  • NOAA noted that parts of the U.S. may also get drier, due to climate change.

  • "The influence of long-term global warming is obvious," per a press release.

The new normals may shift how the climate is described for particular parts of the U.S.

  • With the changes, Fairbanks, Alaska is no longer considered a sub-Arctic climate, but is now termed a "warm summer continental" climate.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' climate reporter Andrew Freedman: The new normals, released Tuesday, show how the U.S. is getting warmer and, overall, wetter as climate change continues. There are some exceptions to the rule, though, with warming especially pronounced in the Northeast and West, and rainfall coming in shorter, heavier bursts.

  • The West has become drier with time, too.

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