The New Weather Normal

Aug 4, 2011


BOISE, Id –The forecast in Boise Thursday calls for a high of 95.  That’s two degrees above normal.  You hear that a lot from forecasters talking about temperatures, whether they’re above normal, below normal.

Idaho’s new normal temperature has everything to do with the 1970’s.

George Skari “We just came out with new normal that began in 1981 through 2010, we got rid of the ‘70s.”


George Skari is a Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Boise.


George Skari “So every decade, every ten year period, we have to change these climate normals to come up with the 30 year average.”


Now, when you hear that a day or a month was hotter or colder than “normal,” that normal is a little different than it was before.  Skari says the new normal went up.

George Skari “And it went up over all of the country as a matter of a fact.  Every state in the country has seen their 30 year normal rise.”

On average, “normal” temps went up half of a degree.  That’s because in the East and Central U-S, the 1970’s had some of the coldest winters on record.  Dropping the 70’s means the average temperature is higher.  In Idaho, the normal maximum temperatures are up .6 degrees.

George Skari “Point six might seem like a lot, and it’s not really, but if you average it out over a long period, that half a degree, a little above a half a degree, could end up being very significant over many months and many years.”

These normal temperatures are not designed to be metrics of climate change.  They’re meant to be used by everyone.

George Skari “There’s a lot of people out there that need this data, you have agricultural interests, you have energy use, you have recreation use and this is all important information for these people, for their bottom lines.”

Skari says power companies, farmers, even construction companies will use the new normal to plan ahead.  And meteorologists will use it over the next ten years to define “normal.”