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  • Bundle Up DC! Your Winters Are Getting Colder

    The Capital Weather Gang reports that winters in the nation’s capital are trending colder while scientists say the Earth is heating up.

    CWG’s Matt Rogers analyzed Washington, D.C.’s coldest high, low and average temperature each winter starting in 2000. What he found was that “our winters are indeed trending colder in terms of the coldest readings.”

    Rogers found that D.C.’s lowest winter temperatures are trending colder, but he also found the highest winter temperatures are trending upwards as well — an odd paradox, which Rogers said could be due to D.C.’s urban heat island effect.

    The analysis also ranked the top 10 coldest average temperature days for every winter since 2000. He found that “58 percent of the top ten coldest days of the 2000s occurred in just the past two years.”

    There have been periods in D.C. with longer cool periods, but the last two winters were intensely cold. This reporter can vouch for that, having to walk to the metro with lots of snow on the ground and temperatures in the single digits.

    On Feb. 20, D.C’s temperature bottomed-out at 5 degrees Fahrenheit, breaking a 120-year-old record. The day before, National Airport recorded a high of 21 degrees, the coldest high recorded in late winter. February had four days in a row with highs of 22 degrees or less in the D.C. area.

    So why are winters getting colder in D.C.? Rogers explains that “long-term oceanic cycles (Pacific Decadal and Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillations) are heading in a direction similar to what we saw in the late 1950s, which favors an increase of colder-than-normal winters in the eastern U.S.”

    And even though D.C.’s urban heat island effect — especially, at major airports — may be causing winter high temperatures to trend upwards, the “pace of cooling of extreme temperatures is still as much as three times as strong as warming at National [Airport].”

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