A common thought is that climate means the same thing as weather. It’s easy to think that because the weather is cool today climate change isn’t happening, but that’s not the case.
- "Weather" describes the conditions outside at a specific point in time.
- "Climate" describes patterns of weather conditions over time. Earth’s climate has always varied by region. For instance, the climate in North Carolina is milder than the climate in Antarctica. We have hot summers, and mild winters. In Antarctica, the climate is extremely cold year-round.
Over long periods of time in Raleigh we have seen shifts in the average number of very hot days, the number of rainy days, the number of warm nights, and the number of cold days. Higher air and water temperatures also create conditions that lead to more frequent and stronger hurricanes and tropical storms, whose effects we feel in Raleigh as well. Climate change can also cause more unpredictable winter weather, including winter storms.
For more on climate and weather, see the NC State Climate Office Website.