Winter is the time of the year that’s seeing the fastest temperature rises in the US, cutting short the snow seasons in states like Montana and Colorado. The snow atop mountains in these states is an important source of water during the summer.
British Columbia experienced its highest December temperature in recorded history on Wednesday when the city of Penticton, 250 miles (402 km) east of Vancouver, saw a high of 72.5F (22.5C), tying the all-time record for highest temperature recorded in the last month of the year.
Temperatures are around 35F higher than average in the plains, parts of the Rockies, and states in the central US, Axios reported.
The Wyoming capital of Cheyenne also hit record-setting temperatures when it reached 70F (21C) on Thursday. The National Weather Service in Cheyenne noted that a record-high was also reached in Nebraska where it was 74F (23C), beating the previous record of 72F (22C).
The warm weather and wind patterns have contributed to the decrease in the snowpacks in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest and the Canadian Rockies.
The makeup of weather systems is the main cause of the warm temperatures, but the human-caused climate crisis leads these patterns to occur more often and to increase in strength, The Washington Post reported.
Milder air is being pushed around the country, with the weather patterns not allowing Alaska’s current record low temperatures to move south.
After a cooler weekend, the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Centre is forecasting milder weather across the contiguous United States over the next two weeks.
This winter heatwave comes as The National Weather Service in the Hawaiian capital of Honolulu has sent out a blizzard warning as heavy winds and snow with the ability to cause damage are expected on Friday and Saturday.
The warning includes the higher areas of the Big Island of Hawaii, the largest island in the archipelago.
Several inches of snow fell on the dormant volcano of Mauna Kea on Tuesday, leading officials to impose road closures.
The National Weather Service has said that more than a foot of snow may fall between Friday and Saturday, with winds that could surpass 100 mph further complicating the situation.
“Blowing snow will significantly reduce visibility at times, with periods of zero visibility,” the NWS said. “Travel could be very difficult to impossible.”
The NWS said in a High Wind Warning that Maui and Haleakala may also be affected. The service said the powerful gusts “will make driving and walking extremely dangerous. The winds can cause significant damage or injuries”.
The warnings apply to areas at and above 6,000 feet (1,830 metres) and tourists and residents alike are urged to stay away from the affected regions.
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