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Katharine Says Winters Are Getting Warmer In Lubbock

September 18, 2011
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Katharine Hayhoe, Associate Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, recently gave an interview to Yale Environment 360 which has been widely reported in the media, notably in the UK in the Guardian. In the interview, in answer to the question “have you seen sizeable increases in average temperatures that could be defined as climate change?”, she is quoted as saying :-

“What we’ve actually seen, at least in West Texas, is an increase primarily in winter temperatures. Our very cold days are getting less frequent and our winter temperatures are increasing in nearly every station we look at across Texas and Oklahoma.”

A quick look at the NCDC data shows this is not the case. In Texas winter temperatures have declined by 0.06F per decade over the last 100 years and the 2010/11 winter was the 36th coldest during that time. Furthermore the temperature has declined by 0.51F per decade since 1990.




In Oklahoma the picture is similar with a small decline since 1920.


When challenged about this on the “Reasonable Doubt on Climate Change” website Dr Hayhoe replied that :-

“In this case, my comment on winter temperatures is based on my analysis of the 50-odd stations in West TX, OK and NM that fall into the Koppen climate classification of cold semi-arid, or Bsk.”


I have not seen any retraction from Dr Hayhoe in the media concerning her original incorrect statement. Nevertheless what do the temperature records from this part of West Texas say? I have taken the winter temperature readings from 10 USHCN stations in this area. The stations are all close to Lubbock within about 200 miles and are :-

Boys Ranch

The average temperature for the 10 stations over each decade are:-


Year Av Winter Mean Temperature
1931-40 42.6
1941-50 42.6
1951-60 43.2
1961-70 41.5
1971-80 41.6
1981-90 41.5
1991-00 43.5
2000-10 42.4
2011 42.3
Average 1931-2010 42.4


Unsurprisingly this shows exactly the same pattern as Texas as a whole, with a cold period between 1960 and 1990 followed by a warmer than average decade in the 1990’s. Since then temperatures have been falling and the last decade is below the long term average seen since 1930. I should point out that the USHCN temperatures used have all been adjusted for TOBS and other factors.

Even just looking at the last 30 years the last decade is slightly cooler than the average of the previous two.

Unless Dr Hayhoe can show my analysis to be wrong and provide her own evidence proving that winter temperatures really are getting warmer, I believe she should publically retract her earlier statement and issue an apology.





1) The data for the 10 USHCN stations have been obtained from the USHCN site using TMEAN – the fully adjusted monthly mean temperatures.


2) The individual station data analysis is shown below.













Since posting Dr Hayhoe has kindly provided me with the basis of her calculations which shows in particular that a start date of 1965 was used. As the above figures show, the decade 1961-70 was the coldest for at least the last 80 years and therefore any trend derived would be artificial and meaningless.

Even within this short timescale it is still the case that over the last decade temperatures have been declining.

  1. September 19, 2011 2:26 pm

    Good piece thank you. Whilst I see the Texas Trend following the usual global peaks in the 1950/1960 and 1991/2000 periods, it would appear, as Paul Homewood suggests, that there is a slight overall decline over the period considered.

    Why do some scientists, like Katharine Hayhoe, always try to exaggerate the situation, even to the point of moving a minor negative as we have here to a minor positive?

    Temperature goes up, temperature comes down depends on the start and end dates. Hay Ho.

  2. Mike Davis permalink
    September 19, 2011 9:45 pm

    I see you got your own sand box! 8)


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