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Fastest-warming states in the U.S.

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Eliyahu Yosef Parypa // Shutterstock

Fastest-warming states in the U.S.

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. According to Climate Central, global temperatures have risen a little more than 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit since 1895—most of that since the first Earth Day in 1970—and the impact is already being felt all over the globe. Climate change is impacting every U.S. state, whether it takes the form of 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 get a sense of how global warming is impacting U.S. states’ average temperatures, Stacker ranked 49 U.S. states from slowest to fastest warming.

To determine the fastest-warming states in America, Stacker consulted Climate Central’s American Warming report, released on Earth Day 2019. Climate Central is a nonprofit news organization that compiles research and helps other news outlets report on climate change. In this report, researchers ranked 49 states and 242 metro areas according to their average warming between 1970 and 2018 with data derived from the National Centers for Environmental Information.

All states (save Hawaii, for which 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. Note that data is only available for one city in Nevada, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Utah, and Delaware; and data is only available for two cities in Wyoming, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Jersey, and New Mexico.

Read on to learn about the fastest-warming states in the U.S.

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#49. Iowa

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 1.84° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Des Moines (Temperature change: 2.75° F, #74 fastest-warming city)
--- Waterloo (Temperature change: 2.65° F, #82 fastest-warming city)
--- Dubuque (Temperature change: 1.66° F, #171 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. Iowa, a largely agricultural state, has seen droughts and floods that are impacting farmers’ crops, and Iowa Democrats have identified climate change as one of their top two issues as voters in repeated surveys.

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#48. Georgia

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 1.89° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Atlanta (Temperature change: 3.12° F, #46 fastest-warming city)
--- Albany (Temperature change: 2.23° F, #111 fastest-warming city)
--- Augusta (Temperature change: 2.13° F, #126 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 over 90 dangerous heat days a year. Georgia is also experiencing other climate change impacts, such as flooding, wildfire, and drought.

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#47. South Dakota

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 1.90° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Mitchell (Temperature change: 2.14° F, #121 fastest-warming city)
--- Sioux Falls (Temperature change: 1.91° F, #148 fastest-warming city)
--- Rapid City (Temperature change: 1.11° F, #210 fastest-warming city)

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

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#46. Missouri

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 1.91° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- St. Louis (Temperature change: 3.85° F, #12 fastest-warming city)
--- Columbia (Temperature change: 2.81° F, #70 fastest-warming city)
--- Springfield (Temperature change: 1.88° F, #154 fastest-warming city)

According to States at Risk, 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. It is also experiencing climate impacts in the winter, like heavier rains.

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#45. North Dakota

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 1.97° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Fargo (Temperature change: 3.21° F, #42 fastest-warming city)
--- Bismarck (Temperature change: 3.02° F, #53 fastest-warming city)
--- Minot (Temperature change: 2.18° F, #118 fastest-warming city)

Although North Dakota is not ranked particularly high on this list of fastest-warming states, it is experiencing climate change impacts like drought, heat, and increased environmental allergies, according to the EPA. As air gets warmer, it brings heavier rainstorms, and that has proved true in North Dakota: The EPA also found that heavy rainfall had increased by 15% in the Great Plains in the last 50 years.

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#44. Alabama

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 1.97° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Huntsville (Temperature change: 3.41° F, #29 fastest-warming city)
--- Birmingham Area (Temperature change: 3.10° F, #48 fastest-warming city)
--- Tuscaloosa (Temperature change: 2.25° F, #110 fastest-warming city)

Alabama is heating up. As the climate continues to change, the state 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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Eduardo Medrano // Shutterstock

#43. Arkansas

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 1.98° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Ft. Smith (Temperature change: 3.92° F, #11 fastest-warming city)
--- Little Rock (Temperature change: 2.18° F, #117 fastest-warming city)
--- Fayetteville (Temperature change: 0.95° F, #214 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, and increased precipitation and wildfires, according to the Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program.

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#42. Washington

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 1.99° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Spokane (Temperature change: 2.44° F, #95 fastest-warming city)
--- Yakima (Temperature change: 2.43° F, #96 fastest-warming city)
--- Seattle-Tacoma (Temperature change: 1.91° F, #147 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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#41. South Carolina

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.03° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Upstate SC (Temperature change: 2.87° F, #67 fastest-warming city)
--- Columbia (Temperature change: 2.81° F, #70 fastest-warming city)
--- Charleston (Temperature change: 2.19° F, #113 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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#40. Mississippi

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.03° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Shreveport (Temperature change: 2.95° F, #60 fastest-warming city)
--- Tupelo (Temperature change: 2.50° F, #90 fastest-warming city)
--- Jackson (Temperature change: 1.69° F, #169 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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#39. Florida

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.03° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Panama City (Temperature change: 3.00° F, #56 fastest-warming city)
--- Tallahassee (Temperature change: 2.86° F, #68 fastest-warming city)
--- Tampa Area (Temperature change: 2.78° F, #72 fastest-warming city)

Florida is extremely vulnerable to climate-related impacts along its long coastline, like sea level rise, hurricanes, and flooding, but the state is also getting hotter on land. Extreme heat is already a problem in Florida, and it is only getting worse: By 2050 Florida could have nearly three months of days above 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Florida is also leading the way on climate adaptation, however, with cities like Miami pioneering new plans for dealing with the impacts of climate change on their citizens.

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#38. Nebraska

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.05° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- North Platte (Temperature change: 2.54° F, #85 fastest-warming city)
--- Omaha (Temperature change: 2.29° F, #105 fastest-warming city)
--- Lincoln Area (Temperature change: 1.76° F, #165 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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#37. Kansas

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.09° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Topeka (Temperature change: 3.26° F, #36 fastest-warming city)
--- Wichita Area (Temperature change: 3.16° F, #43 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 top five drought-threatened states in the continental U.S.

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#36. North Carolina

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.11° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Raleigh-Durham (Temperature change: 3.26° F, #35 fastest-warming city)
--- Piedmont Triad (Temperature change: 3.08° F, #50 fastest-warming city)
--- Greenville (Temperature change: 0.78° F, #221 fastest-warming city)

North Carolina is highly at risk for sea-level rise because of warming temperatures, 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 both for people and for the state’s livestock.

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#35. Oklahoma

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.11° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Oklahoma City (Temperature change: 2.51° F, #89 fastest-warming city)
--- Tulsa (Temperature change: 1.98° F, #136 fastest-warming city)

Naturally, Oklahoma has a hot and humid summer and a wet winter and spring. 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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#34. Oregon

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.12° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Medford (Temperature change: 3.51° F, #20 fastest-warming city)
--- Bend (Temperature change: 2.14° F, #124 fastest-warming city)
--- Portland (Temperature change: 2.84° F, #69 fastest-warming city)

Oregon is seeing increased and more intense wildfires from global warming. In 2018, the cost to fight wildfires in the state reached $514 million—breaking the prior record of $447 million in 2017. 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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#33. Illinois

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.15° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Peoria (Temperature change: 3.47° F, #25 fastest-warming city)
--- Rockford (Temperature change: 2.66° F, #80 fastest-warming city)
--- Quad Cities (Temperature change: 2.35° F, #100 fastest-warming city)

The urban heat island impact of rising temperatures is especially stark in the Midwestern state of Illinois, with temperatures over 20 degrees hotter in Chicago than in surrounding areas. Luckily, Chicago has one of the country’s most extensive climate action plans, and is already using green infrastructure and other tools to manage heat.

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#32. Tennessee

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.17° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Chattanooga (Temperature change: 4.11° F, #6 fastest-warming city)
--- Nashville (Temperature change: 2.25° F, #109 fastest-warming city)
--- Memphis (Temperature change: 2.04° F, #129 fastest-warming city)

Tennessee is home to the country’s sixth fastest-warming city, Chattanooga, and 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.

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#31. Louisiana

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.21° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- New Orleans (Temperature change: 3.39° F, #31 fastest-warming city)
--- Lake Charles (Temperature change: 2.43° F, #97 fastest-warming city)
--- Monroe (Temperature change: 2.27° F, #107 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.

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true nature // Shutterstock

#30. Indiana

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.21° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Indianapolis (Temperature change: 2.48° F, #92 fastest-warming city)
--- Evansville (Temperature change: 2.04° F, #130 fastest-warming city)
--- Lafayette (Temperature change: 1.79° F, #161 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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#29. Virginia

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.23° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Roanoke (Temperature change: 2.89° F, #63 fastest-warming city)
--- Richmond (Temperature change: 2.21° F, #112 fastest-warming city)
--- Norfolk (Temperature change: 2.14° F, #125 fastest-warming city)

Heat wave days in Virginia could increase to 60 days per year by 2050, and the state is also 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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Jon Bilous // Shuttestock

#28. West Virginia

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.28° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas: 
--- Wheeling (Temperature change: 3.41° F, #28 fastest-warming city)
--- Bluefield (Temperature change: 3.08° F, #51 fastest-warming city)
--- Charleston (Temperature change: 2.19° F, #113 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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Irina Mos // Shutterstock

#27. Kentucky

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.31° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Louisville (Temperature change: 3.09° F, #49 fastest-warming city)
--- Bowling Green (Temperature change: 2.87° F, #66 fastest-warming city)
--- Lexington (Temperature change: 2.03° F, #133 fastest-warming city)

Kentucky is facing dramatic increases in heat waves, and an estimated 95% 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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#26. Ohio

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.40° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Columbus (Temperature change: 1.98° F, #137 fastest-warming city)
--- Toledo (Temperature change: 3.24° F, #39 fastest-warming city)
--- Cleveland (Temperature change: 2.97° F, #58 fastest-warming city)

Ohio has always had hot summers and extremely cold winters, a duality that is only growing more dramatic under climate change. According to NOAA, 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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f11photo // Shutterstock

#25. Pennsylvania

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.45° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Erie (Temperature change: 4.06° F, #8 fastest-warming city)
--- Philadelphia (Temperature change: 3.07° F, #52 fastest-warming city)
--- State College (Temperature change: 2.96° F, #59 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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#24. Montana

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.48° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Helena (Temperature change: 4.11° F, #7 fastest-warming city)
--- Billings (Temperature change: 2.76° F, #73 fastest-warming city)
--- Glendive (Temperature change: 2.53° F, #86 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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Eliyahu Yosef Parypa // Shutterstock

#23. Maryland

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.59° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Salisbury (Temperature change: 1.32° F, #199 fastest-warming city)
--- Hagerstown (Temperature change: 1.23° F, #204 fastest-warming city)
--- Baltimore (Temperature change: 1.14° F, #208 fastest-warming city)

Increased stagnant air is making it more difficult for Baltimore to clean up its air pollution, and the city can be as much as 21 degrees hotter than nearby rural areas. Maryland 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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Sharon Day // Shutterstock

#22. Idaho

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.62° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Boise (Temperature change: 3.84° F, #13 fastest-warming city)
--- Lewiston (Temperature change: 1.89° F, #150 fastest-warming city)
--- Twin Falls (Temperature change: 1.74° F, #166 fastest-warming city)

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

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#21. Maine

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.63° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Presque Isle (Temperature change: 3.35° F, #32 fastest-warming city)
--- Portland (Temperature change: 2.84° F, #69 fastest-warming city)
--- Bangor (Temperature change: 1.58° F, #176 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, both from sea level rise and from heavier rains. In June, Maine created a Climate Action Council to expand climate mitigation solutions and to help prepare the state for the impacts of climate change.

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gmstockstudio // Shuttestock

#20. Minnesota

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.67° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Minneapolis-St. Paul (Temperature change: 3.72° F, #14 fastest-warming city)
--- Duluth (Temperature change: 3.67° F, #16 fastest-warming city)
--- Mankato (Temperature change: 3.22° F, #41 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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#19. Michigan

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.69° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Detroit (Temperature change: 3.48° F, #24 fastest-warming city)
--- Grand Rapids Area (Temperature change: 3.10° F, #47 fastest-warming city)
--- Traverse City (Temperature change: 3.00° F, #55 fastest-warming city)

Michigan rarely experiences heat danger days, but that is expected to change with global warming, especially in urban areas, which can be as much as 22 degrees hotter than the surrounding towns. Its drought risk is also expected to increase to levels worse than what is experienced currently in Texas.

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#18. New Hampshire

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.69° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Concord (Temperature change: 3.24° F, #38 fastest-warming city)
--- Manchester (Temperature change: 1.24° F, #202 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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#17. California

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.72° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Fresno (Temperature change: 3.66° F, #17 fastest-warming city)
--- Santa Maria (Temperature change: 2.79° F, #71 fastest-warming city)
--- San Francisco (Temperature change: 2.60° F, #83 fastest-warming city)

California is facing a slew of challenges with global warming, one of which is extreme heat. Over 1 million California residents are already 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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#16. Wisconsin

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.74° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Milwaukee (Temperature change: 3.70° F, #15 fastest-warming city)
--- La Crosse-Eau Claire (Temperature change: 3.25° F, #37 fastest-warming city)
--- Madison (Temperature change: 3.02° F, #54 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, it had one of the worst sewage overflows in the country.

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#15. Nevada

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.76° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Las Vegas (Temperature change: 5.76° F, #1 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. Nevada is also at risk of losing its water supply as Lake Mead, its main supply, is being depleted.

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#14. Texas

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.77° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- El Paso (Temperature change: 4.74° F, #2 fastest-warming city)
--- McAllen (Temperature change: 4.03° F, #9 fastest-warming city)
--- Odessa (Temperature change: 3.59° F, #18 fastest-warming city)

By 2050, Texas could have as many 115 dangerous heat days per year. Parts of Texas are also highly at risk for wildfire, especially Austin.

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#13. New York

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.78° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Albany (Temperature change: 2.23° F, #111 fastest-warming city)
--- Syracuse (Temperature change: 2.19° F, #114 fastest-warming city)
--- Utica (Temperature change: 2.19° F, #115 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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Rsphotograph // Shutterstock

#12. Massachusetts

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.81° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Springfield (Temperature change: 1.88° F, #154 fastest-warming city)
--- Boston (Temperature change: 1.16° F, #207 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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Lynn Yeh // Shutterstock

#11. Wyoming

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.81° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Cheyenne (Temperature change: 2.39° F, #98 fastest-warming city)
--- Casper (Temperature change: 1.55° F, #181 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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#10. Connecticut

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.84° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Hartford (Temperature change: 1.88° F, #153 fastest-warming city)

Precipitation from heavy storms has increased 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, especially its dairy industry.

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#9. Rhode Island

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.84° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Providence (Temperature change: 2.47° F, #93 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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Ilir Hasa // Shuttestock

#8. Vermont

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.85° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Burlington (Temperature change: 4.13° F, #5 fastest-warming city)
--- St. Johnsbury (Temperature change: -1.54° F, #243 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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#7. Colorado

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 2.90° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Colorado Springs (Temperature change: 2.72° F, #76 fastest-warming city)
--- Denver (Temperature change: 1.50° F, #187 fastest-warming city)
--- Grand Junction Area (Temperature change: 0.81° F, #219 fastest-warming city)

Although Colorado is not as highly at risk of extreme heat compared to other states, it is vulnerable to drought as it warms. By 2050 its 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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#6. New Jersey

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 3.00° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Atlantic City (Temperature change: 3.12° F, #45 fastest-warming city)
--- Newark (Temperature change: 1.68° F, #170 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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#5. Utah

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 3.02° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Salt Lake City (Temperature change: 3.23° F, #40 fastest-warming city)

Utah’s snowpack is reducing, which could lead to water scarcity in the state. Besides being unhealthy for the human population, a drop in water availability is likely to impact Utah’s farms and ranches.

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Paul Brady Photography // Shutterstock

#4. Delaware

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 3.15° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Wilmington (Temperature change: 1.62° F, #173 fastest-warming city)

Delaware is highly at 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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Kenneth Keifer // Shutterstock

#3. Arizona

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 3.23° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Tucson (Temperature change: 4.48° F, #3 fastest-warming city)
--- Phoenix (Temperature change: 4.35° F, #4 fastest-warming city)
--- Yuma-El Centro (Temperature change: 3.49° F, #23 fastest-warming city)

Arizona is highly vulnerable to extreme heat, especially in urban areas where summer temperatures can easily be over 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 danger 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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Pixabay

#2. New Mexico

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 3.32° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Las Cruces (Temperature change: 4.01° F, #10 fastest-warming city)
--- Albuquerque-Santa Fe (Temperature change: 3.46° F, #26 fastest-warming city)

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

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Maridav // Shutterstock

#1. Alaska

- Temperature change 1970-2018: 4.22° F
- Fastest-warming metro areas:
--- Anchorage (Temperature change: 3.33° F, #33 fastest-warming city)
--- Juneau (Temperature change: 2.68° F, #79 fastest-warming city)
--- Fairbanks (Temperature change: 1.91° F, #145 fastest-warming city)

Alaska's highly delicate ecosystems have been impacted by warming temperatures, rising seas, and glacier retreat. Residents have been forced to relocate due to erosion and melting permafrost. Because it is so vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, Alaska’s citizens have also been at the forefront of fighting against it: Youth climate activists from the state have taken a lawsuit that claims their right to a healthy environment to the state’s Supreme Court.

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