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Climate Matters: Less extreme cold snaps in Missouri

Wintertime is a nuisance to many because of snow and frigid temperatures but it is still an important time of year for the environment. Colder conditions bring an end to the growing season and allow the soil to recharge, while also keeping bug populations in check. But winter is losing its chill and you may have noticed less of those infamous winter cold snaps as a result.

Locally in the Midwest, we are dealing with some of the most warming compared to the rest of the nation this time of year. Our coldest streaks in wintertime have been reduced by over two weeks over the past half-century. Temperatures also aren't getting as cold during these snaps causing Missouri's plant hardiness zones to shift northward.

This reduction in cold snaps has cascading effects on the environment. Wintertime usually promises a respite from intensive agriculture where soil moisture and nutrients can recharge; extreme cold also kills off bug populations. But now the amount of snow falling in winter is in decline, allowing drought to extend through more of the year and causing more strain on vegetation. We can also expect about 10 more days suitable for mosquitos in Mid-MO because of winter warming.

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Nate Splater

Nate forecasts on the weekend edition of ABC 17 News This Morning on KMIZ and FOX 22, KQFX.


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