A New Slogan for Reno

Reno, NV has long laid claim to being “The Biggest Little City in the World.” Now it could claim to be one of the fastest-warming towns in America.

Reno Arch

According to a survey of US cities from Environment America,  Reno averaged 4 degrees (Fahrenheit) above”normal” for the calendar year 2007. Citing data from the National Climatic Data Center, the report said that temperatures tended above normal for most of the nation (“normal” is defined as the 30-year average from 1971-2000), but few cities made the exclusive plus-four-degree club.

More telling, perhaps, is the average minimum temperature (overnight low), which clocked in at an eyebrow-raising 5.5 degrees above normal in Reno. Climatologists have noted that throughout the West, “T-minimums” (overnight lows) have been rising almost twice as fast as daytime highs, partially obscuring for many the sensation that things are warming up.

Environment America can be justifiably challenged for implying that one year’s worth of temperature records is any indication of generalized long-term warming. It isn’t. The group takes the position that the warm 2007 was part of a broader trend:

“Between 2000 and 2007, the average temperature was at least 0.5 degrees F above the 30-year average at 228 (89%) of the stations examined (nationwide).”

Reno also made the hot list for cities that showed the most deviation from normal (3.5 degrees F), during the eight-year period 2000-2007. Of all the data collected in the report, this is the most useful number to use in making a case for a persistent warming trend. Skeptics might argue that even eight years of data can be misleading and they’d be right–but other studies have been more than sufficient to confirm that the West is warming. The debate has largely shifted to what to do about it.

Photo courtesy of: RSCVA & VisitRenoTahoe.com.