It should come as no surprise that our temperatures have continued to warm both at the local and regional levels, but also across the globe. The beginning of Meteorological Fall in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin was somewhat near average, with a few warm and cool days. To date, however, our monthly temperature for the first two weeks of September is about two degrees above average, with no signs of slowing down (at least within the next week). Today, Wednesday, was a ‘cooler’ day, but really only with the drier and less humid air mass. The high in Rockford officially reached 81 degrees, which was still five degrees above the average high of 76 degrees. And temperatures throughout the rest of the week will continue to run at least five to ten, even fifteen, degrees above average.
When we look at Meteorological Fall as a whole – September, October and November – the average Fall temperature has gone up nearly two and a half degrees in Rockford since the 1970s. And on average, we’ve added roughly 10 more days where the high temperature warms above average during that same time.
Nationally, the West, Southwest and Northeast have had a significant rise in their Fall average temperatures when compared to the Midwest. The heat out West has also prolonged the wildfire season, with some of the worst fires in some of the western state’s history occurring within the last year. The high heat also means that the drought conditions continue and worsen, which in turn causes the heat to only grow more.
The extended period of warmth into the Fall months can cause the allergy season to last longer, as well as prolong the impacts from summer pests such as mosquitoes and ticks. Prolonged heat can also increase the risk of heat-related illness and hospitalizations, especially in children, people over 65 and lower-income communities. Not only that, but it can also become a financial burden on many as air conditioners run later in the season, costing you more and increasing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. Impacts to animal hibernation, fruit ripening, fall leaves changing and bird migrations can also be felt as the summer heat lasts longer and longer into the fall season.
While some may enjoy the heat a little longer as the seasons begin their transition, it’s important to remember that the choices we make now will impact further generations to come. Winter is the fastest warming season, but the other seasons are quickly catching up.