Scientists: Americans are becoming weather wimps

Jan 09, 2014 by Seth Borenstein

We've become weather wimps.

As the world warms, the United States is getting fewer bitter cold spells like this week's. So when a strikes, it seems more unprecedented than it really is.

An Associated Press analysis of daily national winter temperature—averaged into one figure for the Lower 48 states—shows that since 1900 cold extremes like this week's happen about once every four years.

Until recently.

Government meteorologist Greg Carbin created a database of the winter daily national temperature average going back to 1900. And Monday was the first time since 1979 that the national average dropped below 18 degrees.

In 27 distinct cold snaps over 115 years, that's by far the longest the U.S. has gone without getting this frigid.

Explore further: Hypothermia and older adults

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