Now that we’re into the start of 2021, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that 2020 in the U.S. Lower 48 was the fifth warmest year since record-keeping started in 1895 (https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/202013). It also reported that for all of West Virginia, 2020 was the sixth warmest in the 126-year record. NOAA doesn’t single out Canaan Valley for reporting on climate warming, but does make available local weather data going back 64 years that is sufficient to prepare the accompanying graph. The open diamonds are the average temperature for each year and the black squares are the five-year running average temperatures.
From the graph of the five-year averages, it’s unmistakable that Canaan Valley temperatures have been rising for the past 60+ years. That steady climb was broken by only two cooling spells, first in the late-1970s and again in the mid-1990s, both of which were only brief halts in the progress of the warming trend. What’s more, the overall warming seems to have become even more robust in the past several years shown by the upward spike in the five-year average since 2017. From the standpoint of the actual magnitude of the warming, it is striking to see that it has risen more than four degrees since the mid-1960s, quite a colossal amount in such a short time. As always, progress of climate warming will continue to be monitored and another assessment will be made next year with the addition of 2021 to Canaan Valley’s temperature data set.