That’s a question I am often asked in winter here in Boston by people who know me, especially on particularly cold days. My answer is always no, no matter how snowy and miserable and cold it is. And the reason for that is because while I don’t mind cold winters, I really, really don’t like hot summers. Plenty of people don’t feel the same way, which is probably why so many people from the Northeast retire to Florida. But I would always rather put up with nasty Boston winters than brutal Alabama summers. And it’s why on days like today (when it’s supposed to get over 90 degrees) I long for winter to return.
Being the weather geek I am, let me break it down for you with some data.
On average, Boston experiences 10 days a year over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, at least according to one science website. But because that is an average, there can be quite a bit of variation, as we have seen in recent years. In 2010 we had several heat waves, which pushed us up to 25 days over 90 degrees. But then in 2014 we had only 4.
In contrast, Huntsville, Alabama (where I used to live) experiences an average of 47 days over 90 degrees, typically with the first one in May and the last one in October. Six months of summer heat and humidity? No thank you. Although this past weekend we got over 90 degrees here in Boston, in Huntspatch it was over 100 degrees this weekend, not even counting the heat index, which probably reached around 110 degrees.
What’s more, it is only going to get worse. Climate Central has assembled data that shows that it is already getting worse, and that many Alabama cities are already experiencing more 90 degree days than they did circa 1970 (the year I was born). In the list of the top 25 cities in the U.S. that have experienced increases in days over 90 degrees since 1970, Huntsville is ranked #14 with 19 more days – nearly three weeks worth of 90 degree days added just in my lifetime. And Huntsville makes the top 25 list for increase in days over 95 degrees as well – ranked #22 with 11 more days above 95 degrees.
As a bonus, Alabama also has far more tornadoes than Massachusetts. They are not even in the same ballpark. Alabama has a yearly average of 47.1 tornadoes and Massachusetts has a yearly average of 1.4. Alabama is ranked #8 in the U.S. for most tornadoes, according to recent data. And most homes in Alabama don’t have cellars.
I don’t have any data for it, but I would imagine that Alabama also has to deal with thunderstorms, hurricanes and tropical storms more often, and probably has more flooding on a regular basis. That is just based on my own memory and observations.
So yeah, again, I will take Boston winters over Alabama summers.