Mild February Weather a Cause for Concern


It’s late-February here in Loretto. Instead of the College Among the Pines looking like a winter wonderland, the grass is beginning to turn green.

Many students are wearing shorts and short-sleeved shirts to classes, meetings and practices, walking around without so much as a jacket. During the last couple of weeks, the temperature has surpassed 60 degrees several times.

For some, the uncharacteristically mild weather is a cause for celebration.

For others – some of whom point to recent studies on global warming – the unseasonably warm temps in Loretto are a cause for concern.

“This is not February weather,” said Leslie Conrad, SFU’s Public Services and Interlibrary Loan Assistant.

“This is more like late April weather.”

According to Weather Underground, which tracks the daily weather and temperature of different places across the world, the average temperature in the past for Feb. 23 in this area is 34 degrees, with the highest-ever recorded temperature on this day being 72 degrees.

This confirms projections that scientists have made about Pennsylvania’s changing climate.

While rare historically – less than once per year, on average – days above 95 degrees are projected to occur about 12 times per year by mid-century and 31 times per year by the end of this century, according to a Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection 2021 assessment.

According to the DEP, “the warmest parts of the state could experience up to 37 days above 95 degrees by 2050.”

Adjunct Professor and SFU graduate Matthew Ussia said that according to one study, Pennsylvania’s climate will be like that of North Carolina by 2050 and that, by that time, much of the South will become uninhabitable.

There are ways to reduce the effects of climate change, including increasing the use of renewable energy and protecting forests.

While we all might be enjoying the February heat wave, it is ultimately not a good sign for the state of our planet.