HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Fall in central Pennsylvania is the annual rite of passage from the hot summer months to cold, windy winter days, but is autumn more of a continuation of late summer these days?
Research conducted by Climate Central shows the Midstate has been warming since the 1970s by an average of 1.5 degrees.
The number of days above normal has increased, too, a full week’s worth of days – or seven more days – out of the three months of fall.
It’s not just us; the entire United States is experiencing it, too. Out of 244 cities researched, 94% have seen the warming trend, an average warming of 2.5 degrees.
In the study, 223 cities have seen an increase of warmer than average days.
With the warmth also comes more heavy rain and moisture. Periods of heavy rain and downpours continue to become more frequent. Matt Steinbugl, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service office in State College, says, “Over the long term there has been an increase in extreme rainfall, especially over the last 10 years.”
So, we are seeing those heavy downpours become more prevalent in Pennsylvania across all seasons.
What does all of this mean for fall locally? One of the most notable changes is the foliage.
Last year’s wet conditions made the colors more delayed and duller when they did show up. Warmer weather trends signal more delays in the future.
“Peak foliage being pushed back from, say, mid-October toward the latter half of October or even early November in some areas,” Steinbugl said.
With a longer warm season, allergy suffers may see side effects for a bigger portion of the year.
Pests, like mosquitos, may also have a longer life as the warmer weather continues.
But one added benefit for the Midstate is a longer growing season.
A trend toward warmer nights means a later first frost for the season.
On average, the growing season is 10 days longer across the Northeast. As a result, crops and work in the fields can continue deeper in the fall compared to the past.