Environment Planet Earth Whatever Happened to Autumn? By Christian Cotroneo Christian Cotroneo Social Media Editor Brock University Carleton University Christian Cotroneo is the social media editor at Treehugger. He is a founding editor at HuffPost Canada, and former writer at The Dodo and Toronto Star. Learn about our editorial process Updated February 24, 2021 A man walks the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, a routine that should be less taxing in October, but temperatures in Washington, D.C., are extraordinarily warm for this time of year. Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images Share Twitter Pinterest Email Planet Earth Weather Outdoors Conservation Where did you go, fall? We're starting to worry about you. We're weeks into the season of light sweaters, savory soups and various pumpkin spice concoctions, yet there's nary a hint of the annual cool down. Instead, for many Americans, it's tank tops, popsicles and grousing about that infernal heat. In fact, many parts of the U.S. are stewing in record heat. This week alone, states are flirting with 162 record highs, to go along with 164 record warm lows — which means the lowest temperature is still warmer than what we're used to, reports CNN. A man basks in the unseasonably warm weather at a New York beach. Spencer Plattt/Getty Images No one likes shooing summer out the door, but the season has been hanging over us more heavily this year. It's starting to feel like a warm, wet towel wrapped around our necks. The U.S., along with Europe and even Greenland, sweltered under heat wave after heat wave over the summer, shattering more records. And we're still not out of its clammy clutches. The National Weather Service noted that temperatures in New York teetered toward 90 degrees — a high only seen in October on five days previously. The most recent? Oct. 6, 1941. Chill, summer. Kids play with water to cool off at the World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Oliver Douliery/AFP via Getty Images Sure, winter's face-slapping reality check is only months away. And this one is expected to be sheer misery. And last week, Montana — breaking records of a different kind — got a sneak preview. The city of Browning, for example, got hit with 48 inches of snow. And the people of Great Falls had to shovel out from under a one-day September snow record of 9.7 inches of the white stuff. Usually, we get a little time to ease into the freezing season. But for much of America, it's either screaming heat or numbing cold. It's like stepping out of a hot bath and into an igloo. Even in Canada, where we might expect more of a shoulder season, meteorologists expect summer to become winter. From coast to coast, temperature records are expected to "fall like dominoes" in the coming days. Out of the frying pan, and into the freezer. We're not getting much of a transition period between summer heat and winter cold. Nature energy/Shutterstock So what's the deal? Is this what climate change feels like? We know that when temperatures rise even a hair above the norm, heat waves increase in frequency and duration. "So you know, a warming of 1 degree Celsius, which is what we've seen thus far, can lead to a 10-fold increase in the frequency of 100-degree days in New York City for example," Michael Mann, director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center, tells The New York Times. People buy water bottles from a street vendor in front of the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. Oliver Douliery/AFP via Getty Images Another key factor in why heat lingers is the jet stream, the air currents that act like a stir stick to swish weather systems around. As the NYT notes, temperature difference is the hand that holds that spoon. The stream stirs faster when temperatures change, but when the thermometer hovers around the same spot, the jet stream weakens and the damp, hot towel stays draped around our necks longer. "We're warming up the Arctic faster than the rest of the Northern Hemisphere," Mann explains. "So that's decreasing that temperature contrast from the subtropics to the pole, and it's that temperature contrast that drives the jet stream in the first place." If the jet stream isn't moving things around, we tend to get stuck with the same weather pattern — which in this unfortunate case is heat. So did Nature get the memo that it is, in fact, fall? The answer is blowing in the wind. It just isn't blowing quite hard enough.