Winter Is Not Coming: The Country’s Warmest Winter Was 4.6 Degrees Hotter Than Last Year

Sorry, Jon Snow, you’re wrong. Winter is not coming. In fact, thanks to climate change, it’s possible that winter — at least as we used to know it — won’t come again. For the second year running, the U.S. experienced its warmest January, February, and March on record.

On average, this winter was the warmest in 121 years of record-keeping, at a full 4.6 degrees warmer than last year, the Washington Post reported.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its “State of the Climate” report on Wednesday to reveal the jump of 4.6 degrees over last year, Popular Science reported. The average temperature across the country was 36.8 degrees, or 4.6 degrees above the average for the entire 20th century.

The winter of 2015-16 beat out the previous warmest record holder by 0.3 degrees, which was reached in 1999/2000. That year, the average was a balmy 36.5.

According to USA Today, the warmest winter is memorable because so little snow fell in December, January, and February. All six New England states had record warm temperatures. In Vermont, where the hike of 4.6 degrees kept the usual 250 inches of snow a distant memory, ski slopes were pretty bare. Last year, New England suffered one of the harshest winters on record.

In Hawaii, the spike of 4.6 degrees translated into extreme dryness — the driest winter in their record books. The opposite happened in Iowa, which experienced it wettest, measured in rain and melted snow.

Alaska, where the temperature increase far exceeded 4.6 degrees, was even warmer and wasn’t calculated in NOAA’s “State of the Climate.” Their winter was the second warmest they’ve seen, at 10.6 degrees hotter than 2014-15. In fact, the Iditarod shipped in trainloads of snow just so they could pull off the ceremonial start to the annual race.

The warmest winter was felt pretty much in every single state; 46 had above average temps, and Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont had the warmest.

According to an index that classifies the severity of winter weather also revealed that among 52 spots in the lower 48, only three places experienced weather that would be considered harsher than the “average.” Most everyone experienced a mild-to-moderate season.

These record numbers hold even though the mid-Atlantic and Northeast were pounded by a massive snowstorm that was record-breaking in its own right. The storm made history for churning out the most snow in a single blizzard in the area. Even a severe, but brief, cold snap couldn’t bring down the average 4.6-degree jump in temperature.

Of course, that’s excellent news for penny-pinchers, because the warmest winter also means the cheapest one. Average home heating bills in Ohio, which saw its fourth-warmest season, were the lowest in a decade.

But the trend isn’t good news for anyone concerned about climate change. That the mercury rose 4.6 degrees from one winter to another could be a sign that White Christmases, snow-sledding, skiing, and Sugar on Snow are a thing of the past.

The warming trend is being blamed on this year’s El Niño, which was another record breaker. The weather pattern comes with warm ocean temperatures in the eastern and central tropical Pacific Ocean, the Post explained. The excess heat made its way into the country’s weather systems, boosting the temperature 4.6 degrees.

However, long-term global warming may play a part. Winter is warming the fastest of all the seasons, and rising temperatures fit into the global warming trend.

The record of weather in the U.S. goes back to 1895. The NOAA will release a global version of their “State of the Climate” report later this month.

[Image via Dmitry_Evs/Shutterstock]