NOAA releases new 30-year climate ‘normals’


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have released their new 30-year climate ‘normals’ for the 1991-2020 timeframe.

These new normals will be used by many organizations ranging from agriculture to transportation, and even by local weather forecasters delivering your weather news for the day.

But what changes have we seen between the previous data and the most recent one?

The most obvious difference is an increase in our temperatures across the lower 48, and Utah is no exception.

Darren Van Cleave, science and operations officer for the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City, tells ABC4 “When we look at the averages for Utah, it’s quite a bit drier and a fair bit warmer. It’s different depending on which individual months you look at and it varies a little bit from one place to the next. But if you were to average out our entire state and really take a look at the whole Greater Great Basin and Southwest U.S. in general, the message is warmer and drier in this last 30-year period.”

Many of us have felt the drier and warmer conditions in Utah and the Great Basin, and now we have the data to confirm it.

While most of Utah has seen an increase in temperatures, one point of concern has been the drastic increase in overnight lows during the summer for the Salt Lake Valley.

But why is that a bad thing?

“The cumulative effect of heat stress of not cooling off overnight, you know that’s this change in temperature in the Salt Lake Valley is of significance, just not cooling off at night less recovery,” answers Van Cleave.

This means during heatwaves and even just warmer spells, residents without air conditioning miss out on the relief that is brought with cooler overnight lows.

Another major takeaway from the new 30-year normals is that we have seen less precipitation in Utah. Many may be asking now if the old saying, “it used to snow more when I was younger” is true.

Well, we may want to hold off on confirming that one just yet, according to Van Cleave.

“Yeah, you know I’d probably hesitate to go quite that far. We have not taken a deep dive into the more granular kind of site by site data.”

If you would like to access the new 30-year climate normals, they can be found here.

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