Man, it’s a warm one.
At least, here in the eastern half of the United States it is. Since late last week, cities from Chicago to Atlanta to Boston have experienced decidedly un-seasonal heat, with temperatures dozens of degrees Fahrenheit above average. Here in D.C., we had our hottest December 12th since 1889. In Lexington, Kentucky, they did us one better, breaking a record set during the Grant administration.
As pleasant as this weather can be—if it doesn’t quite feel like Christmas in July, it’s at least like Hanukkah in April—the warmth can also provoke unease. Both memory and pop culture instruct that we should hope for a snowy Christmas, not a drizzly one. Sunny, clear days; 70-degree breezes: This is not what December is supposed to feel like around these parts. Something feels deeply wrong.
Alexis Madrigal, an Atlantic contributing editor, coined a term for such weather: “climate changey.” Scientists repeat that few individual weather events can be linked to climate change, and yet, how can an iced-coffee Advent be normal? Surveying an unprecedented California heatwave, historic flooding in South Carolina, and a strange and perplexing sandstorm in Tel Aviv, he wrote in October: “We need a word that reflects the basic anxiety of not knowing what the weather means anymore.” Climate changey is that phrase.