By Meredith Garner, Contributing Writer
The birds are singing, the air is crisp, and the sun is warm as it begins to smile over the peak of the mountains. Spring has now officially arrived, but it feels as if spring had arrived earlier as the hilltop reached 70-degree temperatures throughout the month of February and March.
Though individuals have the right to enjoy the beauty of the warm weather, there are major concerns for the high temperatures arriving so early in the last bit of winter.
The United States experienced an unusual warm climate in February 2017. According to the article, “What’s Up with Warm February Weather in Most of US,” February is normally the third coldest month of the year followed by December and January. The National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) said that this year, the first three weeks of February in most United States locations have been warmer-than-average. On average, February’s temperatures are normally around 34-degrees Fahrenheit. The U.S. has seen 2,805 record highs with 27 record lows so far in the month of February, according to NCEI. This month grew warmer and faster than other months.
The temperature being uncommonly warm has negative effects towards public health, agriculture and wildlife. “People usually get colds when the weather is changing like crazy due to pressure differences, and it’s cold so my nose is running but suddenly there’s pollen,” said Kathryn Dragan, a West Liberty History and Environmental Stewardship major.
The inconsistent weather patterns pose as threats to the environment and population. The warm weather has been causing plants and trees to begin blooming about 20 days earlier than it’s supposed to, according to weather.com. Early blossoms can wilt before pollination occurs causing the plants to die. Farmers are also seeing their crops bud early and thaw only to perish in late-season frost. While the East Coast is getting warmer, the West Coast has been experiencing rainstorms that come in from the Pacific Ocean. Hundreds of record highs were toppled in the week of Feb. 16-24 across the nation.
With temperatures being 20-35 degrees higher than average for parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, animals are coming out when they should not be due to the drastic weather changes. The temperature continues to be unpredictable with a mixture of warm weather and snowfall within the same week.
“It feels really nice, but it kind of means bad things. If the weather is getting warmer in months when it really shouldn’t, something is wrong,” Dragan said. Temperatures typically warm up in March and April for most of the United States. Most locations in the Mid-Atlantic experience their first 70-degree day by the end of March, not the middle of February. “Most likely with that kind of a spike, it’s global warming,” Dragan said.
Thinkprogress.org said that scientists found carbon pollution is warming the planet, which is producing more severe weather such as extreme heat. Carbon pollution is trapping the heat and as a result increases temperatures around the country, leaving fewer cold days and more warm days.
On the positive side, it is good to go outside and enjoy the beautiful weather. People generally get more motivation when the weather is nicer. “I’m comfy and get to wear shirts. It’s also kind of nice because little kids get to go play outside and get exercise,” Dragan said.
People generally think of the nice weather as a gift according to Katherine Hayhoe, a scientist at Texas Tech University. Hayhoe said that people should not hesitate to enjoy unseasonably warm days, but also that as it gets warmer, the negative impacts outweigh the positives like having hotter summers, pests moving northward, and air-conditioning and water bills going up.
The warm weather may be nice for a bike ride, hike, or even a fun-filled day with friends, but it is highly suggested to be aware of the negativities that come with the warm weather in these winter months. Dragan said, “It is definitely harmful to the environment. It throws off everything in the eco-system.”
For more information about the warm weather, please visit www.weather.com.
Photo credit: Meredith Garner