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Happy almost summer! Take a look at how temps for the week of Memorial Day are trending in Roanoke.

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Story Highlights

  • Happy almost summer!

  • Memorial Day weekend is a time when we see big swings in local temperatures as we transition from spring to summer.

  • When we zoom out to the bigger picture, taking a look at the U.S. for the entire month of May, we see that temperatures are indeed rising.

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The first holiday weekend of the “summer” is almost upon us, and the quotation marks are there for two reasons. First, unlike the Fourth of July and Labor Day, Memorial Day weekend doesn’t technically happen in summer – even meteorological summer. And second, while the weekend often features the warm, summery weather in many parts of the country that makes it perfect for cookouts and parades, it’s far from a sure thing. In fact, Memorial Day weekend temperatures in much of the continental U.S. are all over the place — hot one year, cool the next and somewhere in between the year after. That’s because May is a transitional month between spring and summer weather, as the jetstream makes its annual shift back to the north.

This week we take a look at temperatures for the final week of May in your market. You might be tempted to think global warming isn’t happening when you see the temperature in your specific city (as shown in the graphic above). But one week of one month in one city is too small a sample to see what’s really going on. If you zoom out to look at May temperatures nationwide (shown in the second graphic), you begin to see a clear upward trend — although there’s still plenty of wobble from one year to the next.

If you zoom out farther to look at temperatures on a seasonal scale, you’ll see that temperatures across the country are rising by .45°F per decade in spring (March-April-May) and .41°F per decade in summer (June-July-August).

And finally, if you look at overall U.S. average annual temperatures in the Lower 48 states, as we did in our report titled The Heat is On, you’ll see that most states have been warming for the past century — and that if you start counting in 1970, every state has been getting warmer. That’s in spite of local ups and downs, and it’s consistent with what you’d expect from a planet affected by heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

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