Hang Up Your Ski Hat

Climate change is making winter lose its cool—this infographic shows what that means for your city.

February 04, 2015

Every year at about this time, I start seriously envying grandparents and songbirds their yearly migrations south. Two snowstorms just walloped the Northeast and Midwest in a single week, and a multiday snow event is on its way to Boston, where I live (and shovel). Yep, the snowbird lifestyle sounds pret-ty sweet right about now.

But if you stick around to watch climate change do its thing, Florida temps may come to you. A new report by Climate Central found that more than 80 percent of the almost 700 U.S. cities it analyzed could have half as many freezing nights by 2100. For instance, some of the places hit hardest by recent blizzards—Boston, Chicago, and New York—will experience winters more like towns in Georgia, Alabama, and Texas, respectively. More than 20 percent of the country’s cities could see a 75 percent reduction in nights that dip below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fewer freezes might sound cozy, but they have their consequences. Ski seasons in Boulder, Colorado, and Bend, Oregon, will be more like hitting the slopes of Oklahoma (that’s not OK). Milder winters disrupt crops and allow disease-carrying insects like mosquitoes and ticks to bite and suck for longer periods of the year. This will bring more misery to summers that will also be hot, hot hot.

Take note: This great thaw will happen only if we continue to emit carbon at the same reckless levels we do now. Let’s not miss our chance to rein them in and put winter warming on the freeze.  

onEarth provides reporting and analysis about environmental science, policy, and culture. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of NRDC. Learn more or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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