WASHINGTON — If you think temperatures have been feeling warmer in the last 10 years, you wouldn't be off base. The last decade in Washington, D.C. was the warmest on record, according to data from Climate Central.
2019 alone was a year for record warmth. Our news partners at The Washington Post said that it was the third-warmest year on record for the District. The hottest year on record, according to the Washington Post, was in 2012.
Here are a few weather and climate trends that we have noticed about D.C. in the last decade:
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Warmer temperatures fall/winter:
Looking back at NOWData D.C. has experienced temperatures well above average in the fall and winter months. For the previous two years, D.C. has reached temperatures in the 90s in October.
The city had a high of 98 degrees in October 2019 and 90 in October 2018.
We've seen highs in the 60s in January seven of the last 10 years (from 2010 to 2019). Highs have hit the 70s in January only twice in the last 10 years.
February is typically the snowiest month in D.C., but in the last 10 years, we've seen highs in the 70s even 80s in five of the last 10 years. Temperatures reached 74 degrees in February 2019, 82 degrees in February 2018, and 80 degrees in February 2017.
90 degree days:
D.C. had highs of 90 degrees and above 62 days in 2019. The most in the last decade were 67 days in 2010. The year with the least amount of 90 degree days was 2014 with 24 days of temperatures at least 90 degrees or above.
So it's warmer, now what
Warmer temperatures have already brought some notable changes to D.C.
Cherry Blossoms: The average first date of cherry blossoms peak bloom is now April 1st, according to Climate Central. Data was analyzed from 1981 to 2010. The previous average peak bloom date was April 6, with data analyzed from 1931-1960. The National Park Service noted that D.C. is warming an average 1.6 degrees Celsius per century. Earlier bloom dates could put cherry blossoms at risk for damage. For example if you get a few warm days in February followed by a shot of very cold air, trees may become damaged. As the trees are flowering early, they are vulnerable to cold air since it's still winter.
Mosquitoes: A warmer climate in D.C. means a better habitat for bugs and insects, some of which carry diseases that are a threat to our health.
The data for D.C. shows that on average the city is experiencing five additional mosquito "Disease Danger Days", compared to a half-century ago.
Scientists believe that warmer temperatures will contribute to more people being at risk for contracting mosquito borne illnesses, such as Dengue, Zika virus, Chikungunya virus and West Nile. Warmer weather gives mosquitoes a better environment, more time to transmit diseases and new locations to thrive in.
U.S. 2019 Trend
In 2019, wet was the keyword. It was the second wettest year on record in the U.S., according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The wettest year on record in the U.S. was 1973.
In terms of temperatures, 2019 was the coolest year across the lower 48 states, since 2014. Despite, the cooler year the temperatures were still above average. Last year, the average temperature in the U.S. was 52.7 degrees, which is 0.7 of a degree above the 20th-century average, NOAA officials said.
Georgia and North Carolina each saw their hottest years on record, while Alaska continued to see record warmth with the state's warmest year on record.
The 2010s showed a trend of an increasing number of billion-dollar flooding events.
In 2019 alone, NOAA reported 14 weather and climate events which cost more than 1 billion dollars each. These include Hurricane Dorian and flooding in Missouri, Arkansas and Mississippi River flooding.