Our area has warmed 1-3 degrees since the first Earth Day in 1970

We’re more mindful of the environment and climate now, but temperatures are still warming

Roanoke's average yearly temperature has increased by 3.2 degrees since 1970 (Copyright 2021 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

ROANOKE, Va. – Earth Day was observed for the first time on April 22, 1970. It was created to bring awareness to the health of our environment and planet.

Even though we’re now more mindful of the environment and climate than we were before 1970, temperatures are still warming each year if you look at the averages.

Climate Central crunched the numbers and found that Roanoke’s average yearly temperature increased from 55.5 degrees to 58.7 degrees from the first Earth Day to now. That’s a 3.2 degree warm-up!

The change hasn’t been quite as significant in Lynchburg, but the Hill City is definitely warmer than 1970. Climate Central says the Central Virginia community is up by 1.1 degrees over the past 50 years.

Lynchburg's average yearly temperature is up by 1.1 degrees since 1970 (Copyright 2021 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

If we zoom out and look at the country as a whole, we see a similar trend. Since the first Earth Day, the United States’ average yearly temperature is up 2.4 degrees, from 51.5 to 53.9 degrees.

The United States' yearly average temperature has warmed by 2.4 degrees since the first Earth Day (Copyright 2021 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

It appears areas out west are contributing the most to the country’s warm-up.

The top five temperature changes include two cities in Nevada, one in Texas and one in Arizona. Chattanooga, Tennessee rounds out the top five with a warm-up of 4.5 degrees.

Top five change in average temperature since the first Earth Day in 1970 (Copyright 2021 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

So, what’s the takeaway here? We know there will eventually be a tipping point where temperatures will be too warm for us to live our normal everyday lives as we’re accustomed.

If we want to avoid that tipping point in our lifetimes or our kids’ and grandkids’ lifetimes, we will have to take steps to curb climate change. Something to think about as you celebrate Earth Day on Thursday!


About the Author:

Justin McKee presents the weather forecast on 10 News Saturday and Sunday mornings from 6 to 8 a.m. He also fills in for other meteorologists during the week.