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Utah's Warming Trend Continued This Fall

Judy Fahys/KUER
Utah's experienced a few warm, dry years in a row. The National Weather Service recently announced that 2015 was the warmest year ever at the monitoring station near the Salt Lake City International Airport.

Weather watchers at Salt Lake City’s National Weather Service office are telling Utahns what they might have already guessed: It’s been an exceptionally warm fall.

Meteorologists say September through November temperatures averaged 60.5 degrees. That’s the warmest on record for the weather station near the airport and 2nd warmest for the state as a whole.

Rob Davies, a research and education associate with the Utah Climate Centerin Logan, likens this winter’s strong El Nino pattern to a big wave and global warming to an incoming tide.

“What we have is the tide coming in, and we’re getting a particular big wave at the same time,” he says. “And so the water comes further up the beach. In other words, you can expect most locations on the planet to have substantially warmer temperatures, when you’ve got these two things coinciding.”

The trend has important implications for Utah’s water supply, since the warming has been especially strong in the spring and fall, when the mountains are storing northern Utah’s water supply.

Utah’s average temperature has been increasing about seven-tenths of a degree over the last four decades or so, which is one and a half times more than the U-S as a whole, according to Davies.

“Because El Nino is so important to the global energy balance, 2015 is almost certain now to break the previous global temperature record, which was set last year,” he says. “So, no pause in global warming”

The national Climate Prediction Center says it looks likethe El Ninowill stick around and keep temperatures warm through spring.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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