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Which Season is Warming Fastest?

By Climate Central

For most of the country, winter is warming faster than the other three seasons. Western states, however, are warming fastest during the transitional seasons of spring and fall. 

As you well know, overall, it’s been a warm start to winter across the U.S. Just this past week, record high temperatures were falling from the Great Lakes through the Mid-Atlantic and up into the Northeast. Philadelphia reached 71°F on Sunday, smashing the old record for the date by 6°F. On Saturday, Cleveland reached 70°F, crushing the old record by 7°F. So far in December, the nationwide number of daily high temperatures records is outpacing the number of daily low temperature records 10 to 1. And while there will be a break in the heat this weekend in the eastern U.S., the dramatic warmth returns next week.

Even though these are the same areas that tend to have above average temperatures during El Niño winters, this pattern is also consistent with the long-term trend we are seeing with global warming. Winter is the fastest warming season for the majority of the U.S. The exceptions: the Northwest, where fall is warming the fastest; the Southwest where springs are experiencing their greatest rise in temperatures; and Texas, which is pushing it’s sweltering summer heat to a new level.

NOTE: The graphic displays a linear temperature trend for each season fitted to monthly average temperatures from 1970-2014. While the trend is shown as a straight line, the overall warming we experience does not always follow a consistent path upward. It undergoes yearly variability — on top of the seasonal and regional variability.