Mountain West Cities, States Warming Faster Than National Average

May 2, 2019

In a mostly symbolic move, the U.S. House voted Thursday to stop the Trump administration from exiting the Paris Climate Agreement. Meanwhile, many cities and states in the Mountain West are continuing to warm faster than the national average.

 

Three Republicans joined House Democrats in passing the Climate Action Now Act, a bill that would prevent the Trump administration from leaving the Paris Agreement. The action will likely die in the Republican-led Senate.

 

According to a recent report from Climate Central, an organization of scientists and journalists researching the impacts of climate change, many cities and states across the Mountain West are experiencing warming trends that are faster than the national average.

 

Sean Sublette is a meteorologist with the organization. He says Las Vegas is experiencing the fastest rate of warming among the 242 cities studied.

 

“On average, on any given day, the temperature’s probably about five degrees warmer than it was 50 years ago,” he says.

 

For Las Vegas, Sublette attributes the rising temperatures to increased urbanization and the region’s arid climate. That also helps to explain why more humid regions are seeing less of a rise in overall temperatures.

 

“One of the things we sometimes forget, is that the sun doesn’t heat the air that much,” he says. “The sun heats the ground and the ground heats the air over [the] top of it.”

 

Helena, Montana and Boise, Idaho were also in the top 13 fastest-warming cities, while Utah and Colorado were in the top seven for fastest-warming states.

 

While most people won’t feel the everyday effects, the report also shows that spring is the fastest-warming season in the Western states of Nevada, Utah, California and Arizona. That means longer growing seasons that could impact the millions of Americans with allergies.

 

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.