The Washington Post published a map and statistical information this week that details the average change in temperature in each county around the lower 48 states of the United States between 1895 and 2018, and five Minnesota counties show up in the top 30 counties around the country that have warmed the most since then. Alaska and Hawaii was not included in this because they do not have weather data for the entirety of this time period.

While political leaders and others may debate if climate change is a thing, or how much of an impact it may have, the data the Washington Post referenced are hard numbers from NOAA that show a warming trend across the country over the last 120+ years. Why do the numbers only look at that timeframe? Prior to the 1880s, reliable and accurate weather data is hard to come by. That's why most climate and weather comparisons and trends only span back about 120 years or so.

While the numbers are relatively small, with the greatest warming being 2.6 degrees Celsius, some climate experts say (as cited in the Washington Post piece) even slight increases in temperature of as little as 2 degrees Celsius can have major impacts. Regardless of your perspective on climate change, temperature records show a nationwide average increase of temperature between 1895 and 2018 of 1 degree Celsius. Some areas have warmed more than others over this span of time, and 5 Minnesota counties are among those hotspot places.

Washington Post
Washington Post

Roseau and Kittson counties in Minnesota are in the top 5 of counties that have warmed most since 1895, warming 2.4 degrees Celsius on average over that time span. Lake of the Woods, Itasca, and Aitkin counties also show up in the top 30, warming 2.2 degrees Celsius on average over that same time. What you might notice about these counties is that they are all in northern parts of the state, with three of the five counties being right on or near the Canadian border.

  1. Ventura County, CA +2.6
  2. Grand County, UT +2.5
  3. Roseau County, MN +2.4
  4. Kittson County, MN 2.4
  5. Montrose County, CO +2.4
  6. Rio Blanco County, CO +2.4
  7. Mesa County, CO +2.4
  8. Santa Barbara County, CA +2.3
  9. Benzie County, MI +2.3
  10. Ouray County, CO +2.3
  11. Uintah County, UT +2.3
  12. Grand Traverse County, MI +2.3
  13. Suffolk County, NY +2.3
  14. Los Angeles County, CA +2.3
  15. Williams County, ND +2.2
  16. Nassau County, NY +2.2
  17. Somerset County, NJ +2.2
  18. Leelanau County, MI +2.2
  19. Hunterdon County, NJ +2.2
  20. Washington County, RI +2.2
  21. Lake of the Woods County, MN +2.2
  22. San Miguel County, CO +2.2
  23. Daniels County, MT +2.2
  24. Bronx County, NY +2.2
  25. Queens County, NY +2.2
  26. Moffat County, CO +2.2
  27. Itasca County, MN +2.2 
  28. Aitkin County, MN +2.2
  29. New York County, NY +2.2
  30. Harney County, OR +2.2

As far as the Twin Ports area, the average warming trends spotted in this report are as follows:

  • St. Louis County, MN +1.9
  • Carlton County, MN +1.8
  • Douglas County, WI +1.5
  • Lake County, MN +1.4
  • Bayfield County, WI +1.4

All of these counties also show an average warming greater than the national average of +1 degree Celsius over the span between 1895 and 2018, with St. Louis County seeing the greatest average warming over that time.

A national map version (seen here) depicting the greatest warming across the country shows some of the most notable hotspots in places usually associated with cold weather. Northern Minnesota, Northwestern North Dakota, Northern Montana, and Western Colorado are among some of those places.

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