A Warm Winter: Should We Be Concerned?

Winter temperature outlook, 2022-23. Image courtesy of NOAA.
Zoë Jurkowski, S&E Editor

As many students may have noticed, this week’s weather has been strangely warm. With Feb. 15 reaching almost 70 degrees Fahrenheit and Feb. 23 having followed suit, Wooster has had what can be described as a spring-like February. No snow has stuck to the ground recently, and windy, rainy days seem to be more common than flurries. While it is certainly enjoyable to not face the bitterly-cold Februaries of the past, some may wonder: should we be concerned? 

We at The Voice have taken a look at past Ohio weather to give insight on this questionably warm winter. According to Spectrum News, the historic high for a Cleveland February reached 77 degrees Fahrenheit on the 24th in 2017. The coldest low was -17 on February 20, 2015. In Cincinnati, the historic high reached 79 degrees on the 20th in 2018, and the coldest low was -15 on the 2nd in 1951. 

Obviously, Ohio is no stranger to sporadic warm days during winter, and since starting my first year here in 2020, I’ve learned to live through the chaotic weather that characterizes Ohio winters. However, this doesn’t mean we’re off the hook. Noticeably, the warmest days in February for both Cleveland and Cincinnati have all been recent, each within the past six years. This does not apply to the coldest days, however, as they have been within the past 72 years. 

So, what exactly does this mean? According to The Climate Reality Project, within the last half century, U.S. winters have increased by an average three degrees Fahrenheit. While three degrees is not seemingly a concerning number, it’s important to remember that even a one degree increase has negative impacts on our environment. More evaporation due to warmer weather leads to an increase of H2O in our water cycle, causing hectic and unpredictable weather. Climate change is happening everywhere, and Ohio is no exception. 

It’s fair to say that the winter we are currently experiencing is a result of climate change. While Ohio is subject to strange and fluctuating weather, this winter has been a consistently warmer one than winters in the past, and while we aren’t seeing extreme changes in the weather currently, it’s evident that our climate is changing and that we are bearing witness to this change. 

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