• Ian Sutton

Gradual Warming in Virginia

Climate change is often described in apocalyptic terms: wild fires in the west, massive flooding in Texas, the loss of most of the Great Barrier Reef, and so on. These events are, of course, taking place and they are very serious. However, they may seem somewhat distant to people living in other parts of the country or world.


Here in central Virginia we have not had any dramatic events, but this article in today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch tells us that our climate here is also changing. The article is written by the newspaper’s meteorologist, John Boyer. He says,

Our warming climate doesn’t always manifest as record heat and scorching summer afternoons, though there was some of that this year.
Nor does it rule out snow and deep freezes. But an important part of this upward trend is driven by missing cool weather.
Those nights in February that ought to have been frigid, but weren’t.
August mornings that saw 70s instead of 60s.
Waiting until mid-November for fall freezes.
It all counts.

This chart shows how Virginia temperatures have changed since the year 1895. There has clearly been a steady increase over the course of the last 30 years. However, had this post been written in the year 1965 we would be looking for explanations for the cooling that started around the year 1950.

The gradual temperature increases that have taken place during the last 30 years have real consequences. For example, my gardening books recommend against planting (English) peas in the early fall because lower temperatures will prevent them from producing. Well, we decided to go ahead anyway; we got quite a good yield from this small planting. We have also done well with leeks, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli (our onions are surviving, but do not seem to be growing much).

English Peas

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