First Alert Weather In-Depth: How Rochester compares to Lexington, Kentucky this winter

Weather In-Depth: How Rochester compares to Lexington, Kentucky this winter

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – If you are a winter enthusiast, you are probably not be too happy with this latest winter season here in Western New York. But here is the question: Have the winter seasons been getting warmer?

There are different ways of defining it, but the simplest analysis is to focus on a trend which compares just the months of December, January, and February. That timeframe is the core of the winter season, sometimes referred to as meteorological winter. A map of the United States shows the average temperature data going back to 1970 and this can be very revealing.

The eastern half of the country has been running two to three degrees warmer over the past 50 years. However, the northeast has measured a four to five degree increase in heat during this specific portion of the winter season. That really stands out, but what about little ole Rochester? A graph that plots the temperature of the meteorological winter shows lots of variation from year to year. But if we smooth out the up-and-down temperature there is a definite warming trend since 1970.  And by some estimates our meteorological winter, on average, has warmed by some four to five degrees since 1970. We know this most recent winter was the warmest in recorded history for Rochester. And if we do a comparison, this winter season felt like a normal winter in Lexington, Kentucky. Which is about 500 miles to the south of Rochester.

Amazing to think about, but still rather difficult to quantify.