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Weather Talk: Plant hardiness map revised, but climate isn't set in stone

Last week, the USDA plant hardiness map revisions made the news as many areas around the country changed to a slightly warmer zone. But it would still be a mistake to attempt to grow Georgia peaches in North Dakota.

Last week, the USDA plant hardiness map revisions made the news as many areas around the country changed to a slightly warmer zone. But it would still be a mistake to attempt to grow Georgia peaches in North Dakota.

Plant hardiness zone maps suffer the same transient fate as floodplain maps. The problem is that climate is not set in stone.

For much of the past 50 years or so, our region has been in a subtle warming trend. In particular, there was a pronounced warming during the 1980s and 1990s. But within this overall warming trend, there have been periods of distinctly cold weather (such as the past four years). Precipitation trends are even more complicated as wet and dry periods come and go.

While things seem to sort of average out over time, a close inspection shows the averages to be ever changing. Plant hardiness zones, just like floodplain lines, can be useful in giving us a general idea of what to expect, but it is important to always be prepared for when our climates takes a turn for the unexpected.

Have a weather question you'd like answered? Email weather@wday.com , or write to WDAY Stormtracker, WDAY-TV, Box 2466, Fargo, ND 58108

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Read the blog at http://stormtrack.areavoices.com/ .

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