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Cold snaps are getting shorter, new report finds

Since 1970, cold snaps in Memphis have gotten shorter by an average of six days.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A new report from Climate Central found cold snaps are getting shorter in Memphis and in most of the United States, highlighting the concern of a warming climate across the globe.

In 1970, the average cold snap in Memphis lasted about 18 days. Today, that number is down to 12.

The change is even more dramatic in places like Las Vegas, Nevada, and Topeka, Kansas, where cold snaps are getting shorter by two to three weeks.

While warm weather lovers may be quick to write this off as a good thing, climate experts said there is more to be concerned about.

Longer stretches of cold weather are important for many crops that produce fruit in the spring and summer.

Additionally, much of the nation's water used for drinking and irrigation comes from snowpack. Shorter cold snaps may cause that snowpack to melt before it can be used.

Many parts of the country rely on cold snaps to control the population of bugs and insects, many of which carry disease. Shorter periods of cold weather could help them to live longer.

There could also be an impact to the winter tourism industry in parts of the United States which depends on extended periods of cold weather to keep businesses operating.

While a hotter summer tends to get more attention, winter is actually the season that is seeing temperatures rise most quickly. The average winter temperature in Memphis has warmed over three degrees just since 1970.

Scientists behind the report said they consider any stretch of consecutive days with below average temperatures compared to the 30-year seasonal normal to be a cold snap.