Per local observations at the Lafayette Airport since 1970 and a recent study produced by Climate Central, Acadiana's winters are getting milder with fewer freezes during the winter months.
Lafayette for example, has averaged 5 fewer freezes per year since 1970.
Roughly 15 freezes per winter could be expected around 1970, versus today we are now averaging near 10 freezes per winter.
Per Climate Central: "While fewer colder days and nights may sound good to those who are not fans of the cold, it comes with consequences to the economy and human health...
Also, the lack of cold will likely allow disease-carrying pests, like ticks and mosquitoes, to prolong their active season and broaden their distribution.
Blacklegged ticks (also known as deer ticks) are the primary host of Lyme Disease, an illness that about 476,000 people are diagnosed and treated with each year.
According to the EPA, the increasing number of cases and the growing distribution of Lyme Disease are an indicator of climate change.
This is a health risk because Lyme Disease, and other vector borne diseases influenced by climate change, can cause serious health complications in vulnerable populations."
And it appears this warming trend is becoming more pronounced in Acadiana over the last several winters...
Although every year can be quite variable, the last 3 winters (this one included to date) we've experienced 5 or fewer freezes.
Here is the data from the last 5 winters inclusive: 2016/2017: 6 freezes, 2017/2018: 16 freezes, 2018/2019: 4 freezes, 2019/2020: 5 freezes, and to date 2020/2021: 3 freezes.
This may be beneficial for our heating bills and perhaps extending our local growing seasons for some crops, but it may come at a cost of more health risks and certainly more mosquitoes locally as stated above.
More importantly, these warmer temperatures at night are also noted throughout the year, with summer nights averaging several degrees warmer than was observed in the latter half of the 20th century.
There has been no significant evidence of daytime highs increasing in Acadiana during the summer months, but with overall warmer "mean" temperatures year round, translates to higher cooling bills and more heat stress for people and animals.
The most pronounced effect of the warmer atmosphere we have observed is that it holds more water vapor which has translated to a definitive trend of more intense and frequent heavy rainfall events across the Gulf Coast over the last couple of decades, including tropical systems that not only tend to hold more flooding rains, but are also slower moving creating more damage.
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