Fastest-warming states in the US

Written by:
October 22, 2019
Eliyahu Yosef Parypa // Shutterstock

Fastest-warming states in the US

Global temperatures have risen a little more than 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit since 1895 (most of that since the first Earth Day in 1970), according to Climate Central, and the impact is already being felt all over the globe.

A little less than 2 degrees might not seem like much, but for the health of the world’s ecosystem, it’s quite a lot. Climate change impacts every U.S. state, whether as rising seas, extreme storms, wildfires, or devastating droughts. But some states are warming faster than others and feeling the other impacts of climate change more keenly.

To determine the fastest-warming states in America, Stacker consulted the climate at a glance tool from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. All states (save Hawaii and Alaska, for which state-level data is not available) are ranked here according to their average warming, with the temperature changes of each state’s fastest-warming cities included for context. Ties are broken by the fastest-warming city in each state. Where available, data for the three fastest-warming cities are included; but for certain states, data for only one or two cities were available.

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#48. Washington

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 1.0° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Yakima (+1.1° F, #166 fastest-warming city)
--- Olympia (+0.3° F, #173 fastest-warming city)

Washington is already feeling extreme impacts from climate change, including devastating wildfires, diminishing water supplies, and more. The coastal state is also highly at risk from sea level rise as the world warms.

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#47. Idaho

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 1.7° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Boise (+1.8° F, #157 fastest-warming city)
--- Pocatello (+0.8° F, #171 fastest-warming city)

Idaho is the country’s largest producer of potatoes and trout. But as hotter temperatures lead to more droughts, it may be more difficult for Idaho to produce its signature exports.

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#46. Oregon

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 1.8° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Medford (+2.9° F, #129 fastest-warming city)
--- Pendleton (+2.4° F, #149 fastest-warming city)
--- Salem (+1.6° F, #161 fastest-warming city)

Oregon is seeing increased and more intense wildfires from global warming. In 2021, wildfires cost the Oregon Department of Forestry $129 million. The state is utilizing various climate solutions to stem the impacts of climate change, including cap and trade and funding for clean energy.

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#45. Louisiana

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 2.4° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Monroe (+3.7° F, #75 fastest-warming city)
--- New Orleans (+3.1° F, #120 fastest-warming city)
--- Shreveport (+2.9° F, #131 fastest-warming city)

Louisiana is highly at risk for flooding as the ocean warms; parts of the state, including much of New Orleans, are actually below sea level. Besides flooding, Louisiana is already hot and getting hotter, especially in urban areas: NOLA can be as much as 15 degrees hotter than the surrounding areas. Louisiana is expected to experience 115 heat danger days per year by 2050, according to the States at Risk project.

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#44. California

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 2.5° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- San Diego (+2.7° F, #138 fastest-warming city)
--- los Angeles (+2.6° F, #142 fastest-warming city)
--- Eureka (+1.4° F, #163 fastest-warming city)

California is facing a slew of challenges with global warming, one of which is extreme heat. More than 1 million California residents are vulnerable to extreme heat. Wildfire is another major risk in California, as disasters like the Camp Fire demonstrate. But as vulnerable as California is, it is also at the forefront of climate policy: The state has an extensive climate action plan and has committed to run on 100% clean energy by 2045.

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#43. Utah

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 2.5° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Salt Lake City (+3.2° F, #114 fastest-warming city)
--- Cedar City (+3.2° F, #112 fastest-warming city)

Utah’s snowpack is reducing, which could lead to water scarcity in the state. The Wasatch Front metropolitan region gets 80% of its water from snowmelt runoff. Besides spelling tragedy for the public water supply, a drop in water availability will also negatively impact Utah’s farms and ranches and dry up wildlife habitat.

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#42. Arkansas

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 2.5° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Little Rock (+4.2° F, #41 fastest-warming city)
--- Fort Smith (+3.7° F, #72 fastest-warming city)

Climate change is bringing longer and more frequent heat waves to the American southeast, and Arkansas is no exception. In fact, the state could experience 150 days per year with temperatures above 90 degrees by the end of the century, and increased precipitation and wildfires, according to the Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program.

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#41. Oklahoma

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 2.6° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Tulsa (+3.9° F, #59 fastest-warming city)
--- Oklahoma City (+2.4° F, #148 fastest-warming city)

Climate change is exacerbating Oklahoma’s natural weather cycle to the point of drought, with the state’s soil now dangerously dry. Much of Oklahoma’s agriculture is irrigated from groundwater, which is rapidly depleting.

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#40. Nevada

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 2.7° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- las Vegas (+4.6° F, #25 fastest-warming city)
--- Carson City (+4.4° F, #32 fastest-warming city)
--- Elko (+3.1° F, #117 fastest-warming city)

Already naturally dry and hot, Nevada is growing warmer by the minute. Las Vegas can be as much as 24 degrees hotter than the rural areas surrounding it, according to the States at Risk project. The state is also at risk of losing its water supply as Lake Mead, Nevada’s main water source,is being depleted. As of late June 2022, Lake Mead had lost more than 156 feet of height since 2000.

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#39. Kansas

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 2.8° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Topeka (+4.7° F, #14 fastest-warming city)
--- Goodland (+3.0° F, #125 fastest-warming city)
--- Wichita (+2.9° F, #130 fastest-warming city)

The two greatest consequences of warming in Kansas are wildfire risk and drought. Nearly 15% of Kansas’ population lives in areas with an elevated risk of wildfire, and Kansas is considered one of the most drought-threatened states in the continental U.S.

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#38. Wyoming

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 2.8° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Sheridan (+4.8° F, #11 fastest-warming city)
--- lander (+2.5° F, #147 fastest-warming city)
--- Casper (+2.3° F, #152 fastest-warming city)

Wyoming’s mountains contain no less than 1,500 glaciers, which will probably all retreat as the state continues to warm and some may disappear altogether. The state’s snowpack is also decreasing, which threatens its skiing- and hiking-based tourism economy.

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#37. Texas

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 2.8° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Austin (+4.0° F, #49 fastest-warming city)
--- Amarillo (+3.7° F, #70 fastest-warming city)
--- Houston (+3.7° F, #80 fastest-warming city)

By 2050, Texas could have as many 115 dangerous heat days per year, according to the States at Risk project. Parts of Texas are also highly at risk for wildfire—especially Austin.

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#36. Maine

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 2.9° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Bangor (+2.8° F, #134 fastest-warming city)
--- Caribou (+2.6° F, #141 fastest-warming city)

As Maine continues to warm, summers there could eventually feel like present-day Maryland, according to the University of Massachusetts Amherst's Climate System Research Center. The coastal state is also dealing with increased flooding from sea level rise and heavier rains. Maine’s Climate Action Council seeks to expand climate mitigation solutions and to help prepare the state for the impacts of climate change.

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#35. Missouri

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 2.9° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- St. Louis (+3.3° F, #108 fastest-warming city)
--- Springfield (+2.8° F, #133 fastest-warming city)

Missouri is experiencing more heat and humidity, especially in urban areas like St. Louis, due to urban heat island impacts and worse droughts than usual. The state is also experiencing climate impacts in the winter, like heavier rains.

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#34. Arizona

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 2.9° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Flagstaff (+3.6° F, #85 fastest-warming city)
--- Phoenix (+3.6° F, #90 fastest-warming city)
--- Yuma (+3.4° F, #101 fastest-warming city)

Arizona is highly vulnerable to extreme heat, especially in urban areas where summer temperatures can easily reach more than 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Arizona is already more at risk from extreme heat than most of the country, but by 2050 it could have as many as 80 dangerous heat days a year from extreme heat. Arizona is at the forefront of heat adaptation and is attempting to protect its citizens through smart urban planning and public health measures.

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#33. Montana

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 2.9° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Glasgow (+3.8° F, #63 fastest-warming city)
--- Billings (+3.8° F, #61 fastest-warming city)
--- Missoula (+3.3° F, #107 fastest-warming city)

Montana is expected to experience more extreme droughts: By 2050, its drought risk is expected to increase by 95%. Montana has also seen a larger percentage increase in wildfires than any other state in the West in the last 45 years.

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#32. New Mexico

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 3.0° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Albuquerque (+3.2° F, #111 fastest-warming city)

Like other Southwestern states, New Mexico is experiencing drought and a drop in its snowpack. The Rio Grande has been drier than average frequently over the last decade. New Mexico does have a robust clean energy economy, but will need to invest more to help mitigate the impacts of climate change.

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#31. Georgia

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 3.0° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Augusta (+3.9° F, #56 fastest-warming city)
--- Atlanta (+3.3° F, #102 fastest-warming city)
--- Macon (+2.6° F, #143 fastest-warming city)

Georgia is warming slowly, but it is still a vulnerable state due to its naturally warm climate; by 2050 it is expected to see more than 90 dangerous heat days a year. Georgia is also experiencing other climate change impacts, such as flooding, wildfire, and drought.

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#30. South Carolina

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 3.1° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Columbia (+3.2° F, #115 fastest-warming city)
--- Charleston (+2.8° F, #135 fastest-warming city)
--- Sioux Falls (+4.8° F, #12 fastest-warming city)

South Carolina’s summers are getting longer, hotter, and muggier. The impacts of this are especially being felt in cities like Columbia and Charleston, where buildings trap heat in urban heat islands. The increased heat is triggering high numbers of wildfires; 2.9 million people in South Carolina live in areas at elevated risk for wildfires.

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#29. Iowa

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 3.1° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Sioux City (+4.3° F, #35 fastest-warming city)
--- Waterloo (+4.1° F, #48 fastest-warming city)
--- Dubuque (+3.8° F, #62 fastest-warming city)

Although Iowa is ranked as #49 on the list of fastest-warming states, it is still being impacted daily by climate change. The state has seen droughts and floods that are seriously impacting farmers’ crops; Iowa Democrats have identified climate change as one of their top two issues for constituents in repeated surveys.

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#28. Nebraska

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 3.1° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Norfolk (+4.6° F, #22 fastest-warming city)
--- Scottsbluff (+4.1° F, #46 fastest-warming city)
--- Omaha (+3.4° F, #98 fastest-warming city)

Like the other Great Plains states, Nebraska is dealing with increased heat and drought interspersed with periods of dangerously heavy rainfall. Soil moisture in the state is decreasing and its natural agricultural processes are being disrupted.

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#27. Mississippi

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 3.1° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Jackson (+3.4° F, #97 fastest-warming city)
--- Tupelo (+3.1° F, #121 fastest-warming city)

Mississippi is feeling the impacts of climate change through drier soil and more frequent flooding, both coastal and inland. Mississippi has not warmed at nearly the rate of many other places because of the prevalence of pollution, like sulfates in the atmosphere over the state, but with sulfate emissions in decline, Mississippians are subject to even stronger climate change effects.

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#26. Minnesota

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 3.2° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Rochester (+4.0° F, #53 fastest-warming city)
--- St. Paul (+3.6° F, #86 fastest-warming city)
--- International Falls (+3.4° F, #99 fastest-warming city)

Minnesota is experiencing heavier rains due to warming overall temperatures and hotter summers. The state has a Climate Adaptation Team working to develop solutions for the impacts of climate change.

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#25. Alabama

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 3.2° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Mobile (+4.1° F, #44 fastest-warming city)
--- Birmingham (+3.6° F, #87 fastest-warming city)
--- Montgomery (+3.1° F, #116 fastest-warming city)

As the climate continues to change, Alabama could end up with nearly three months a year where temperatures are above 95 degrees, according to the Sierra Club. Extreme heat is expected to take 760 additional lives annually in Alabama by 2050.

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#24. Tennessee

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 3.2° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Knoxville (+4.4° F, #31 fastest-warming city)
--- Memphis (+3.7° F, #74 fastest-warming city)
--- Nashville (+3.6° F, #89 fastest-warming city)

Tennessee is experiencing longer, hotter, and more humid summers all across the state. The increased temperatures are spelling disaster for drought risk, with Tennessee’s risk of summer drought expected to increase by 65% by the year 2050, according to the States at Risk project.

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#23. Florida

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 3.2° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Tampa (+4.0° F, #54 fastest-warming city)
--- Fort Myers (+3.9° F, #60 fastest-warming city)
--- Orlando (+3.8° F, #68 fastest-warming city)

Florida is extremely vulnerable to climate-related impacts along its long coastline, including sea level rise, hurricanes, and flooding, but the state is also getting hotter on land. Extreme heat is already a problem in Florida and only getting worse: By 2050, the state could have nearly three months of days above 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

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#22. Wisconsin

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 3.2° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Milwaukee (+4.6° F, #20 fastest-warming city)
--- Green Bay (+4.6° F, #18 fastest-warming city)
--- Madison (+4.3° F, #38 fastest-warming city)

As Wisconsin warms, one of the major risks it is facing is inland flooding. Nearly 200,000 Wisconsin residents live at increased risk of flooding. In April 2015, the state had one of the worst sewage overflows in the country.

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#21. Colorado

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 3.3° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Pueblo (+3.8° F, #65 fastest-warming city)
--- Colorado Springs (+3.7° F, #71 fastest-warming city)
--- Grand Junction (+2.8° F, #136 fastest-warming city)

Although Colorado is not at as high a risk of extreme heat compared to other states, it is vulnerable to serious droughts as it warms. By 2050, the state’s drought risk is expected to be among the worst in the country. Climate change is also expected to shorten the winter skiing season in Colorado, which could be devastating for its economy, as it has the most visitors of any state for winter tourism.

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#20. North Dakota

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 3.3° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Dickinson (+4.7° F, #17 fastest-warming city)
--- Bismarck (+4.5° F, #27 fastest-warming city)
--- Fargo (+4.0° F, #51 fastest-warming city)

North Dakota is experiencing climate change impacts like drought, heat, and increased environmental allergies. As the air warms, it brings heavier rainstorms: The EPA found that heavy rainfall increased by 15% in the Great Plains over the last half-century.

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#19. North Carolina

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 3.3° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Raleigh (+5.6° F, #4 fastest-warming city)
--- Charlotte (+4.7° F, #16 fastest-warming city)
--- Greensboro (+3.7° F, #73 fastest-warming city)

Warming temperatures spell rising sea levels for North Carolina, which could lead to saltwater contamination of the state’s freshwater supply. The coastlines of the Carolinas are also receiving more heavy storms like Hurricane Florence as the ocean warms. North Carolina is also contending with more extreme heat, which is harmful to people, the state’s livestock, and wildlife.

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#18. Illinois

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 3.4° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Chicago (+4.6° F, #24 fastest-warming city)
--- Rockford (+4.3° F, #40 fastest-warming city)
--- Springfield (+3.8° F, #66 fastest-warming city)

The urban heat island impact of rising temperatures is especially stark in the Midwestern state of Illinois, with temperatures in excess of 20 degrees hotter in Chicago than in surrounding areas.

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#17. South Dakota

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 3.5° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Sioux Falls (+4.8° F, #12 fastest-warming city)
--- Pierre (+3.9° F, #58 fastest-warming city)
--- Rapid City (+3.4° F, #100 fastest-warming city)

South Dakota is experiencing changes in water supply because of flooding and drought along with the rest of the Northern Great Plains, as well as rising temperatures. Plains ecosystems are delicate, and even small changes can have ripple effects on the state’s wildlife and agricultural economy.

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#16. New Hampshire

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 3.6° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Concord (+3.7° F, #77 fastest-warming city)

As New Hampshire continues to warm, it could lose major revenue from tourism and recreation, since skiing is an important part of the New Hampshire economy. As much as 20% of the state’s seasonal ski days could be lost, according to the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. The state has developed a comprehensive climate action plan to deal with this problem.

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#15. Michigan

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 3.6° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Sault Ste. Marie (+3.7° F, #78 fastest-warming city)
--- Detroit (+3.6° F, #84 fastest-warming city)
--- Muskegon (+3.6° F, #88 fastest-warming city)

Michigan rarely experiences heat danger days.

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#14. West Virginia

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 3.6° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Huntington (+4.0° F, #52 fastest-warming city)
--- Beckley (+3.6° F, #82 fastest-warming city)
--- Elkins (+3.3° F, #106 fastest-warming city)

The largest hazard facing a warming West Virginia is flooding during periods of intense precipitation, according to NOAA. Increased precipitation may also impact the state’s delicate forest ecosystems.

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#13. Kentucky

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 3.6° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- lexington (+4.5° F, #28 fastest-warming city)
--- Paducah (+4.2° F, #43 fastest-warming city)
--- louisville (+4.2° F, #42 fastest-warming city)

Kentucky is facing dramatic increases in heat waves, and a significant increase in drought risk by 2050. That is bad news for this heavily agricultural state, where droughts have caused billion-dollar deficits in hay, corn, and soybean revenues before.

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#12. Indiana

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 3.7° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Indianapolis (+4.1° F, #45 fastest-warming city)
--- Fort Wayne (+3.9° F, #57 fastest-warming city)
--- South Bend (+3.7° F, #76 fastest-warming city)

Indiana is naturally fairly temperate, but because of increasing temperatures, it could experience danger days during heat waves. The longer and hotter summers also exacerbate existing problems like the state’s mosquito season and the humidity level.

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#11. Vermont

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 3.8° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Montpelier (+4.3° F, #39 fastest-warming city)

Altered precipitation patterns of both rain and snow are already impacting Vermont’s water quality, as more, and warmer, water runs through the state’s streams and rivers. The state’s large dairy industry could also be impacted, due to heat stress on Vermont’s cows.

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#10. New York

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 3.9° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- New York (La Guardia) (+5.2° F, #7 fastest-warming city)
--- New York (JFK) (+4.6° F, #21 fastest-warming city)
--- Syracuse (+4.1° F, #47 fastest-warming city)

As New York continues to warm, it is dealing with heavier and heavier rains. Between precipitation and its coastal location, the state is also vulnerable to flooding. New York has developed plans for adapting its infrastructure for climate change, but there is still more work to do.

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#9. Connecticut

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 4.0° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Hartford (+4.3° F, #37 fastest-warming city)
--- Bridgeport (+4.3° F, #36 fastest-warming city)

Precipitation from heavy storms has increased by 70% in the Northeast since 1958, and that leaves Connecticut, like other states in New England, vulnerable to flooding. The state is also getting longer springs and summers, which could hurt its agriculture—particularly the dairy industry.

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#8. Virginia

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 4.0° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Richmond (+5.4° F, #5 fastest-warming city)
--- Roanoke (+4.6° F, #23 fastest-warming city)

Heat wave days in Virginia could increase significantly by 2050, while the state is already experiencing stronger storms during hurricane season. Virginia is also experiencing “nuisance” or “sunny day” flooding, which is flooding because of king tides.

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#7. Massachusetts

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 4.1° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Worcester (+4.0° F, #55 fastest-warming city)
--- Boston (+3.6° F, #83 fastest-warming city)

New England has been plagued with droughts as it warms, with Massachusetts at the center of the problem. It is also dealing with more intense hurricanes and severe storms in the winter.

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#6. Ohio

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 4.1° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Akron (+5.7° F, #3 fastest-warming city)
--- Cincinnati (+4.9° F, #10 fastest-warming city)
--- Toledo (+4.6° F, #26 fastest-warming city)

Ohio has always had hot summers and extremely cold winters, a duality that is only growing more dramatic under climate change. Increases in temperature are particularly worrisome for Cincinnati, Columbus, and other urban areas, where urban heat island impacts can cause public health risks.

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#5. Pennsylvania

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 4.1° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Philadelphia (+5.9° F, #2 fastest-warming city)
--- Erie (+5.2° F, #6 fastest-warming city)
--- Harrisburg (+4.6° F, #19 fastest-warming city)

As Pennsylvania continues to heat up, climate change is likely to impact its agriculture. Scientists predict that it will continue to grow more difficult for Pennsylvania farmers to grow crops like grapes, corn, and apples. Pennsylvania is fighting back against climate change, however, and is leading the charge on green power purchasing.

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Eliyahu Yosef Parypa // Shutterstock

#4. Maryland

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 4.2° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Salisbury (+5.0° F, #8 fastest-warming city)
--- Baltimore (+4.4° F, #30 fastest-warming city)

Increased stagnant air is making it more difficult for Baltimore to clean up its air pollution. The state also has a serious issue with extreme storms and flooding causing sewage overflows: More than 84 million gallons of sewage spilled in the state after Hurricane Sandy.

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#3. Rhode Island

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 4.4° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Providence (+4.7° F, #13 fastest-warming city)

This small state is dealing with some big problems. Both sea-level rise and flooding from storms are a problem for this coastal state, and the fishing and farming industries that form a large sector of its economy are likely to suffer under climate change.

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#2. Delaware

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 4.4° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Wilmington (+4.4° F, #34 fastest-warming city)

Delaware is at major risk for sea level rise. It is more vulnerable than most areas in the country, because not only is it warming rapidly, it is actually sinking. The water level near the coast of Delaware could rise as much as four feet in the next century.

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#1. New Jersey

- Temperature change 1970-2022: 4.5° F
- Fastest warming metro areas:
--- Atlantic City (+4.9° F, #9 fastest-warming city)

New Jersey’s coastline is already seeing the impacts of climate change, as higher water levels erode beaches and disrupt coastal ecosystems. The rising sea level can lead to saltwater intrusion—salt water contamination of freshwater sources.

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