Spring is heating up in the Brazos Valley… and across the country
BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) – Spring is coming soon! While the official season kicks off on March 20, Tuesday marked the start of meteorological spring. In order to better preserve the data, meteorologists tend to think of spring as the months of March, April and May. However, in a changing climate due to human-made impacts, the spring season is not only getting warmer but also changing. An earlier spring means heat breaks in the winter months, leading to a lag in nature and longer pest and allergy seasons.
A recent analysis by Climate Central shows that about 97% of 234 locations across the United States have seen an increase in their average spring temperatures since 1970, with 49% of these locations (about 115 out of 234) warming by 2° F or more — Bryan-College station included. Over the past 51 years, the average spring temperature in the Brazos Valley has warmed by 2.9°. This equates to about 16 days longer than average now than in the early 1970s – an increase of around 38 days to 50 days or more out of the 92 that make up the season.
While some may welcome the warmer days after prolonged cold spells during the winter months, the early arrival of spring can have uncomfortable and damaging effects:
- Longer pest and allergy seasons: An early spring and an early last frost can lengthen our growing season. This means that related nuisances such as mosquitoes and pollen can appear earlier in the year and persist longer.
- Shift schedule in nature: Spring warming can also disrupt the timing of ecologically significant events. For example, some species of migratory birds do not keep pace with the early onset of spring, which can impact their food availability and breeding success. The consequences of time lag are an active area of study.
As for 2022, it should follow the trend. Current forecasts for spring – defined as March, April and May – by the Climate Prediction Center indicate that the Brazos Valley has a 50-60% chance of ending with above normal temperatures before the summer months. The region is not alone, most of the lower 48s are expected to experience warmer than usual conditions. Although some rain – sometimes heavy – will occur, the general spring theme should be drier than average. Drought conditions will only enhance a warmer forecast, especially in May as we approach the summer season.
Methodology: Analyzes used 1970-2021 data from the Applied Climate Information System. The number of spring days above normal was calculated using NOAA/NCEI 1991-2020 normals. The trend lines displayed are based on mathematical linear regression. Climate Central’s local analyzes include 247 stations. However, for data summaries based on linear trends, only 242 stations are included due to significant data gaps in Wheeling, W. Va., Dothan, Ala., Hazard, Ky., Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Twin Falls, Idaho.
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