Hot Summer Nights and Low-Snow Winters: How Roanoke's Climate Is Changing

You will need your snow shovels again. But some things, especially warm summer nights, are noticeably changing in Roanoke’s climate.

A towering cumulus cloud with a developing thunderstorm partially obscures the summer sun as seen from the Blue Ridge Parkway in 2021. Heavier rainfall and warmer summer nights are among the changes in Roanoke climate noted in recent decades. PHOTO BY KEVIN MYATT

Snow barely showed in Roanoke this past winter.

Our virtually snowless winter — four-tenths of an inch, all on March 12 — was not unprecedented. More than a century ago, the 1918-19 and 1919-20 winters went back-to-back with only a trace of snow for Roanoke.

It will seem like a fuzzy dream when next we shovel, probably in the coming winter with an El Niño-charged winter storm. But the fewness of flakes amid the second warmest winter on record undoubtedly set off alarm bells in some minds about changing climate in the Roanoke Valley, concerns perhaps stoked further by recent smoky days blown in from Canadian wildfires.