Is Weather Worsening American Political Divides?

Jan 6, 2018

Credit Lyndon State College Meteorology / Wikimedia Commons

High Plains residents have been experiencing a warmer than average winter, with less snow than usual. Yet, when we turn on the television, we’re inundated with stories of polar vortexes and unprecedented cold snaps back East. So, what’s going on?

While politics has sharply divided red and blue states in recent years, there’s a new divisive force that is separating conservative and liberal areas—weather.

According to, recent weather patterns “have given rise to a country almost perfectly divided between red and blue states—by temperature.” The contrasting conditions are a result of the polar jet stream, a river of wind that flows above the atmosphere and can separate weather patterns. But this year, due to other contributing factors like climate change and La Niña, the effect is more powerful than it’s been in a long time.

The northeast and upper Midwest have recorded over 700 records for low temperature, while locations in the western states have reported over 600 record highs.