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February 12, 2019

Climate change could make Philly feel like Memphis by 2080

Weather Climate Change
Carroll - Philadelphia Skyline and Benjamin Franklin Parkway Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

The Philadelphia skyline from the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

On Tuesday, with freezing rain falling in Philadelphia, the idea of the city’s weather feeling a bit more like Memphis probably doesn’t sound bad.

According to a new study published in the journal “Nature Communications”, that exact kind of transformation could happen in the next 60 years.

The study, from researchers at the University of Maryland Centre for Environmental Science and at North Carolina State, uses the average of 27 different climate projections. 

It examines the effects of climate change and compares those projected effects to the current climates of specific locations in order to provide “a more relatable, placed-based assessment” of climate change

 In the instance of Philadelphia's weather, if climate trends continue for the next six decades, this study predicts the climate here will feel like Memphis, where on Tuesday it was 50 degrees and partly sunny.

Another example the study provides: Washington, D.C., will feel like the humid subtropical climate of Paragould, Arkansas.

“In the eastern U.S., nearly all urban areas, including Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, will become most similar to contemporary climates located hundreds of kilometers to the south and southwest,” the study explains.

So, what would a year of Memphis weather look like compared to a year of Philadelphia weather?

“Warmer and wetter in all seasons” is how the study puts it.

Per Weather Underground, the average high temperature for Memphis in July 2018 was 92 degrees, the average dew point was 71 degrees, and the city received five inches of rain. In Philadelphia, the average high was 88 degrees, the average dew point was 65, and the city received three inches of rain, or 60 percent of what Memphis received.

What about winter?

Memphis’s average high temperature in January 2018 was 46 degrees, the average dew point was 26, and the city received four inches of precipitation. In Philadelphia, the average high was 41 degrees, the average dew point was 20, and the city received less than three inches of precipitation.

The slight temperature bump may sound pleasant while the Northeast trudges through another sloppy, often-brisk winter. But in the long run, Philadelphia probably wants to stay Philadelphia.

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