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Science and the Environment

Southwest Missouri May be in Middle of Warming Trend

KSMU archives
Sun Glare Shines Through Tree / Photo Credit: Shannon Bowers

A local climatologist says southwest Missouri has been in a warming trend since 1998. As KSMU’s Shannon Bowers reports, the findings show that temperatures over that span have been above normal 73 percent of the time.
Using data from the National Weather Service Cooperative, Pat Guinan with the University of Missouri Extension says that local winters have experienced the greatest warming trend. 16 of the past 24 winters have had above normal temperatures.
“So when we look at the data and look at southwest Missouri specifically, in years more recently, we have been in a warming trend. We have seen, by far, warmer than normal winters than colder than normal winters,” said Guinan.
Recently, along with mild winters, Missouri has seen a short period of drought. Historical trends for this part of the state indicate we are leaving a multi-decadal wet period and entering a dry one.
“When you look at the past 30 to 40 years it has been fairly wet but we did see severe drought across southwest Missouri in 2011 and 2012 and in my opinion that is a reality check on how dry things can get in our state and drought has and always will be part of the Missouri landscape.”
Guinan says historically southwest Missouri has experienced abrupt changes of extended dry and wet weather patterns. There are numerous occasions, both in temperature and precipitation, where the region quickly transitioned from one extreme to another.
“We had an exceptionally dry period, a multiyear drought that impacted Missouri in the 1950s. We need to recognize that these drought have and can return. I don’t know exactly when but we need to know, do we have mitigation strategies in place in order to cope with them,” Guinan said.  
According to the Climate Prediction Center, the region is likely to experience above average temperatures for the next 90 days.
For KSMU News, I’m Shannon Bowers.