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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Readers Speak: Is the Weather Really Changing?

Readers Speak: Is the Weather Really Changing?

With the extreme weather we’ve been having this year – record snowfall, tornadoes, floods, and the hottest summer in recent memory for many areas – many of you have written in to ask us what’s behind it, and whether this year is really as unusual as it seems. We put the question right back to our readers and asked our Facebook fans, “Do you think the weather is drastically different than say 10, 20 years ago? If so in what ways?”

Here is a sampling of the responses we got:

“A lot hotter and colder here in Texas.”

“Nope.”

“More extreme heat, cold, snow, tornadoes, etc. happening much more frequently than ever.”

“More severe weather.”

“I don’t remember having so much snow in Oklahoma. Winters seem to be colder. The winter weather starts earlier and lasts longer.”

“Maine Doesn’t have the snow we used to get in the winter when I was a kid in the 70’s.”

“Yes, I do think there is or has been a drastic change over the last 20 years. As a kid in Kansas, I remember big snows. The kind that would cause you to have a 6 to 8-foot drift on the side of your house. We made caves and tunnels through it and we built snowmen that were bigger than we were. We don’t have those kinds of snows here anymore. I don’t remember the winters being so windy/cold/high wind chills. The summers seemed to be more mild and we didn’t have as many varieties of insects! Or that is how it seemed. Maybe I’m just getting too old to want to deal with the changes?”

“I know that California’s weather is drastically different! It now rains in the summer and is humid!”

“The extremes – long cold or heat waves. Seems like those are worse.”

“Yes. Wild storms and unpredictable, crazy weather changes in areas that never used to experience that kind of weather. Tornadoes in New Brunswick.”

Hotter, Our winters in upstate New York are not like they used to be.

“I remember it being a lot colder in the winter 10-20-30 years ago. More school days off due to bitter wind chills, canceled church, lots more snow. I expect that global warming would make that worse, not better.”

“Washington State has gone from 9 months of cold and wet to 11 months of cold and wet and/or cloudy…”

“Seems like the ‘seasons’ are getting shorter and shorter and are changing to their opposites.”

“Living in Maine, I find that the thunderstorms are more severe. Maine used to average two tornadoes a year, now there have been more than that in a single day.
Longer hotter summers, shorter winters with less snow, and hardly any fall or spring.”

“I think on the Va. peninsula our weather stays hotter through the fall. There’s always Indian Summer, but its used to be 60’s and 70’s in September, 50’s 60’s October, and 40’s 50’s in November. The spring stays colder with very little spring. It almost goes from hard core winter to straight dead of summer. I miss our spring and falls.”

“In Marin, north of San Francisco, it used to rain for weeks and weeks at a normal rate. Now its just heavy blowout storms with weeks of nothing. Then the summers used to be warm with the fog coming back every night and burning off by 9 a.m. Now, its either cool or hot as fire.”

“Columbia, S.C., is known to have humid, hot summer temperatures. But the past few summers have given us longer stretches of continuous 100+ degree temps. Adding the heat index, it makes it almost hard to breathe. Climate change is real, and it seems to be getting worse here in the south.”

“I agree in Kentucky, we used have more snow in the winter and the summer were cooler.”

“It was lots colder and more snow in Missouri in years past. I remember my dad saying that when he was young, they crossed the Mississippi with a team of mules on the ice. That would have been before the river control that is in effect now.”

“Maybe, but our time is but a blink of an eye. I remember my mother and grandparents blaming everything from UFOs to government experiments and mountains growing bigger in the west on the changes of weather in their lifetimes. During the course of history,y glaciers have only been present on earth for less than 5% of the time. In fact, science has a special name for when earth has glaciation, it’s called an ‘ice age’! That’s right, technically we are living in an ice age. The only really weird thing would be if we had NO changes in weather.”

“In Texas the summer has been hot, hot and dry. Only 3 inches of rain in 2011. What is going on? I am concerned about our water supply. Ranchers are selling all their cattle. So sad.”

“In the late 70’s, early 80’s in middle Tenn., we had snow on the ground for weeks at a time. Temperatures hit -10 around 1980. Winters have been much milder. A really hot summer this year.”

“Worse in every way!”

“Kansas is definitely worse — more humidity and I hate it. We used to have hot dry summers, now they are hot and humid.”

“I think we live in air conditioning so much it just seems hotter in the summer. I have to agree with winter. We don’t seem to get as cold as back in the day, and not near the amount of snow we use to get.”

“In Oklahoma, it seems the summers are longer and hotter! In the past, the weather seemed to start turning cooler as soon as Labor Day came! Not anymore! We don’t start wearing coats until late October/November!”

“I think the weather is more “circulating” back to what it was about 20-25 years ago.”

“The seasons’ start seems to have shifted.”

“We don’t get the snow we used to in Michigan. When I was a kid we got feet, now we get inches. The past two winters have been a little more snowy.”

“We didn’t even have a spring. It went from winter to summer, it seems!”

“Maybe, but then again, patterns are just that … patterns! Mother Nature is ever changing and in my opinion. I’ve lived from the East Coast to the West Coast and seen many weather changes and heard from folks who lived in places all their lives. They say it’s been something in the making and not surprising to them. You have to hear from people who never went anywhere from where they were born and then you get the factual truth. Movers can’t know anything about the changes because they move all the time. I am one of those movers, but I listen to longtime locals.”

“In my area we are drier in the last 5 years, and the rainy season in Central Texas was pathetic this year. I remember years that were hotter, but I don’t remember not having a rainy season.”

“Seems like the weather is getting milder as time goes on.”

“North Florida our seasons are cold or hot, no spring, no fall. We are now 17 inches low on rain for the year.”

“Much hotter and drier here in Texas.”

“Doesn’t seem so to me.”

“It’s becoming down to two seasons … winter/summer. Too hot or too cold.”

“Yes, too many drastic swings from hot to cold…very unseasonable weather can happen without warning almost.”

“Hotter! And fall comes later and later.”

“I think the weather goes around in a circle of a cycle every 80 to 120 years, or around there. The same weather patterns today could have been experienced in the early 1900’s, in my opinion. Also, the world is rotating and getting older just like we are. So it may be a bit harsher. But, actually, our weather here is back to being normal and wonderful, feel very blessed this week.”

“Weather is cyclical. Sometimes hot, sometimes not.”

“If we live long enough, we’ll see this same “strange” weather come around again. God is in charge and He knows best.”

“Well, the summer of 1980 I heard was really hot. And so was 1988, 1999, 2002, 2010, and this year. The summers of 1997, 2003, 2004, and 2009 were a little below average temperature-wise.”

“Definitely so! Seasons are all messed up and so very intense! There’s no middle.”

“Not a lot snow in New York like there was over 20 years ago.”

“Not nearly as many large snowstorms as there were when I was a kid, 30 years ago. The summers are not as enjoyable. Too many days in a row with high humidity. Wisconsin just had a 3-4 week stretch of deadly humidity. When I was a kid, there were humid days…but one day here and there…not like this. Can’t even enjoy the summer! Cabin fever all year long!”

“Northern Maine is hot and muggy, where years ago, there was little to no humidity, and in the wintertime, snow would be piled up to the tippy tops of the power lines along the roadway. We used to get way more snow than we do now. If we get a couple of inches of snow now, schools are cancelled, along with many other businesses! From 1971 to 1975, I walked in snowstorms, enjoying it, actually, to my high school, when we lived in Southern Maine. Even in Southern Maine, you could expect to see lots of snow…in FEET, not inches!”

“Very HOT and DRY. More Tornadoes than usual also.”

What do you think? Is our weather changing, or is it just more of the same? Share your thoughts below!

42 comments

1 ouvickie { 08.02.12 at 4:56 pm }

It feels hotter and drier in the summer in the past few years (in Oklahoma), than it did when I was a kid. I was curious if that was true, so I checked your website for temps during the 50s,60s and 70s and it is indeed 5 to 10 degrees hotter during our summer months in Oklahoma now.

2 Aaron { 07.30.12 at 3:29 pm }

Theres been extremes for as long as weve had weather. Weather is all over the place. You dont look at global warming over a sample of years weather, you have to look at the long term averages over a century. Thats what people dont seem to understand. Yeah 2011 and 2012 are extreme weather years but you cant link these events to “this is absolutely climate change” because you cant look at it over a 2 year sample. The earth has gotten significantly warmer over the last 100 years but our weather has been extreme long before and after that! Weather isnt climate and everyones blaming this hot summer on global warming. When its hot it is the climate but when we were having cold winters these scientists were saying “weather and climate are different things” but all of a sudden when its hot it is climate!!

3 shane conley { 12.30.11 at 3:15 am }

the weirdest ever usually by now here just below the great lakes we have at least 3 inches on the ground at all times but its greener than green out and rain really weird and warm 40s and 50s thats never ever happened before that i can remember ever ever since that japan earthquake are seasons have been messed up but they did say it tilted the earths axis thinking couldnt that mess with are seasons and more and more seems to be true this summer is gonna be bad without a good cool down plus the bugs from no real snap are gonna be really bad

4 kristine hicken { 12.29.11 at 5:19 pm }

lt’s nearly January in NW Colorado and we have no snow. Even the ski resorts up high have very little. Our “seasons” seem to be starting later. It was still cool here in June, but we were still in shirt sleeves in November. I feel as though the sun is also in a different position; not as low in the sky as it has been in previous winters.

5 Janet Kays { 10.26.11 at 2:28 pm }

the comment made about snow ice cream grabbed me. I had never had any til I married my late husband, and we still make it, just have to wait til we have a good heavy snow to clean the air and its perfectly safe to make it, and still as yummy as ever. the best ice cream ever!

6 ripley { 08.31.11 at 9:27 pm }

Of course the climate is changing. The earth warms and then it cools. It’s a natural cycle. Humans have little or nothing to do with it.

7 amj { 08.28.11 at 7:49 pm }

the weather in MA has had colder/snowier winters and hotter summers

8 Phyllis Poole { 08.27.11 at 9:06 am }

My mother used to say “in the end the seasons will change and even the water will burn”. The seasons are changing. Ariz used to be the place to go for asthmatics because it was dry. It is much more humid now. This has been over the course of 70-80 yrs. I would like to know how the weather has changed over 2-300 yrs. -by experts.

9 Hercy Hallenbeck { 08.26.11 at 11:28 pm }

The summer of 1980 in TX was the hottest in my Life time. 117 degrees and many 3 digit days. No rain from April till November 1980 in Wylie, TX
No current weather has topped the Mount St Helen Eruption, responsible for the drought and hot summer of 1980.

The change of each season seem to be arriving a month too soon…noticed this since 1987.

We do not believe global warming is happening. Weather history depicts a repeat in weather changes.

10 RB { 08.26.11 at 10:35 pm }

In Michigan it appears that July and August have flip flopped. Normally July is muggy and rainy. However this year, July was extremely warm, dry and crops suffered. And normally Aug is dry and hot but this year everything is lush green thanks to the frequent rain and thunderstorms. And last spring we received record breaking rains. It seems like everywhere around the world, storms and heat are record breaking.

11 Kathleen Babcock { 08.26.11 at 11:51 am }

I feel the weather has changed dramatically. I also feel like the seasons are sliding into different months. All of June, now feels like July used to be when I was a kid. July feels like August, and August is beginning to feel like Sept earlier than it used to. In many cases, much warmer winters and buggier summers-I am on Long Island, in NY.

12 John Walker { 08.25.11 at 8:35 pm }

Weather changes. thats just common sense, man made change well who knows. I have lived on the west coast, the panhandle of Texas, North Carolina’s mountains and now in Columbia, SC, Sure I have seen changes in all those places, however I seem to remember this rule from high school science, “The only thing that never changes is change itself”. From my point of view the only drastic change I have seen is the so called news coverage where an inch of snow is a blizzard and a few weeks of declining rain is a drought. Yes we have weather differences but really people doesn’t anyone actually read anything written over a decade ago. These changes go and come, only after hundreds of years can they be interpreted. The so called computer models are exactally that models and with no more information input than is currently available you have just as good a chance predicting with a box of tea or some chicken bones.

13 Santa Fe { 08.25.11 at 12:04 am }

The Fall here used to be beautiful and cool starting in September. Winter would bring several decent snow storms. June would be nice and hot weather wouldn’t hit until July and August. Now it starts getting hot the beginning of June and proceeds to get hotter in July and August and lasts through September. We are at less than 25% of our normal rainfall, in a severe drought. Last winter we had maybe three snow falls. Not one over two or three inches. Time to move!

14 Louie { 08.24.11 at 9:48 pm }

The weather has constantly been changing, and has been more gradual over time.
The Blizzard of 78 wasn’t as severe as we would have as children, but darm close.
I remember 55 years ago we would sit in the basement of our house, to cool off, when
we had heat waves, and there were many….But it appears to be a cycle of weather
change, as it was many many years ago. I wouldn’t think of it as Global Warming, although
it may have some contribution to the changes. However, its a cycle that we are seeing in
our lifetime, as many did hundreds of years ago.

15 chris { 08.24.11 at 8:27 pm }

I agree with a lot of people that the weather does follow a cycle and we are in a extreme weather cycle in Arkansas. This summer has been unbearable. it started the first part of June and hasnt let up we have been averaging here 100 to 113 with high heat index. We had no spring. My husband and I have been married for 22 and half years and we have never had a fire in our wood stove in May but this year we did then two weeks later its in the high 90’s and just keeps climbing. We have had the hightest electric bill we have ever had this summer. Everybodys gardens dried up I did get green beans canned and that was it and its been this way for the last two years. I told my husband I’m done all this money and hours and hours of labor for nothing. I am ready to move out of Arkansas. We had the ice storm which killed thousands of trees, bugs that arent supposed to be in our area wipe out our hickory and pine and and now more have died from the drought and extreme heat. We have had severe lightening we got hit last week and this morning with little rain to show for it. I am so ready for summer be over. I have lived here my whole life 41 years and we have never had a summer this hot that the lake is even hot in the high 80,s temp. I told my husband when most people retire and migrate south for the winters we are going to migrate north for the summers. The thing of it is, as bad as it has been here Texas is really sufferning and I feel so sorry for them, hay is scarce here and hard to come by not sure what we are going to do but in Texas there is nothing.

16 Karen Conner { 08.24.11 at 7:13 pm }

Seems as if the seasons have “shifted”. As if they change earlier then they did back in the 1950-1960’s. Summers tend to be “hotter” with more “heat waves of over 90 degrees” lasting much longer. The winters have become more mild in temperture and not nearly the amount of snow. Granted, we have been experiencing more snow these last few years, but still not nearly the snow fall amounts of the 50-60’s. We have also been experiencing “strange” weather such as tornados…I do not remember these as a child as tornados were once a very rare occurence for Delaware.

17 Don C. { 08.24.11 at 6:32 pm }

I work outside the weather is always changing.Some winter are milder than others(Thank God) same with the summers.A life time is only a snap shot in time.Your belief is little more that a snapshot in time.Any body telling you they know for a fact the weather is going to be one way or another in the future is selling snake oil.

18 Laura { 08.24.11 at 6:30 pm }

I don’t believe the weather’s changing, it’s just cyclical. It may be in a 10 year cycle or a 100 year cycle or a 1000 year cycle!

19 Steve Allen { 08.24.11 at 5:25 pm }

Here in Iowa the extremes are more extreme and they last longer. Climate change is definitely happening. These are not just cyclical patterns. I have lived 68 years here and the weather is different.

20 bob { 08.24.11 at 3:19 pm }

In Oklahoma early 70’s, probably 1971 0r ’72 it was so cool on the 4th of July that we wore jackets to shoot off fire works. My brother and his wife went to Lake Eufala and was unable to enjoy the lake due to how cold it was for July. The weather systems as I see it are dynamic always in a change cycling and re-cycling over the years. So I don’t see it all that unusal it’s just that weather like this probably happened at at one time or another and no one was around to have seen it so we call this unusal, that’s my theroy anyway for whats its worth.

21 BBTTRR19 { 08.24.11 at 2:25 pm }

Weather is always changing and will continue to do so as long as there is energy imbalance between the equator and Poles.

22 Margaret Meyers { 08.24.11 at 1:42 pm }

no this is not the same old same old…. I remember back in the 60s we had very cold winters but I also remember Christmas not having snow and then a week later New Years it was -20. I know Alberta is bad for weather change but I check the weather every day to make my plans. Please what it going to happen this winter in the Pairies? Alberta to be exact… I hate the cold weather and shoveling snow every day… please tell me there is not going to be soooo much snow. Waiting anixiously to what the prediction will be….

23 katnorman { 08.24.11 at 1:29 pm }

1st weekend in May we had sweatshirts on in North Alabama. This past winter we had snow on Christmas day and later in January. Very cold winter….and this Summer has been the most Humid I remember and I am 53! Very much wondering what Winter is going to do this year. We had the big Tornado outbreaks in late April here too. Much more lightening and T Storms. Who every made Mother Nature mad…needs to apologize and soon!

24 Richard { 08.24.11 at 1:08 pm }

I’ll be 74 in October and have lived in southweat Pennsylvania all but 41/2 years in New York. I am the son of an old time farmer. I lived before we had electricity, indoor plumbing.and farmed with a team of horses.
Has the weather changed? I believe it is an ever changing element of nature. The weather patterns are changing from what I remember when I was a child. But I understand that the earth itself has changed on its axis and so have the North and South Poles changed positions. I do not know if this is really true or not, but if it is, it would account for a lot of changes on earth, not just the weather.

25 Jane Hanlon { 08.24.11 at 12:11 pm }

Diane, I’ve wondered the same thing. Have you ever noticed when a hurricane happens or a space shuttle drops back down after a mission, some of us get rain? And I, too, am a Kansas girl born and bred, and I remember walking in snow up to our knees to school. I remember snow ice cream(I think folks are afraid of that now). And I wonder(because so many of my friends and I talk about this) if there isn’t some experimentation from our government going on with the weather. Or, God forbid, some terrorists sneaking in to mess our weather up without us even knowing it. That kind of subtle warfare has been on my mind a lot, lately. We’ve not had anything big since 9-11, and that kind of surprises me. Well, I hope everyone is having a nice, bright, and sunshiny day! By the way, has anyone noticed full moons being bigger and closer to the Earth? Just thought I’d throw that in, too! Have a nice one, ya’all!

26 Harry { 08.24.11 at 11:40 am }

I’ve lived in SC almost all my life. I grew up here. I remember it being hot, but not stiffling hot like it has been the last 2 or 3 years. Also the fall weather started a littler soon. About the middle of September things began to get slightly cooler, and by middle of Oct. it was cold. November would bring freezing weather. It didn’t snow very often, but the weather would be cold longer. Also I remember more rain in the summer.

27 Jerrilynn { 08.24.11 at 11:15 am }

The weather is drastically different than it was just a decade ago. Whether or not it’s caused by man-made toxins being dumped by the uber-tons on a daily basis into our air and water or if it’s just Mother Nature doing her thing, I cannot say because I’m no scientist. All I do know is that vegetables that were once prolific in my garden no longer grow here… well, they grow, but it no longer gets warm enough here in northern/central California to grow the varieties of tomatoes I grew for 20+ years. The last 2 years, I have had prolific tomatoes on the vines that never got ripe. We normally have more than half of our summers over 100 degrees here. We have only had 3 days this year of 100 degrees, and only had 6 or 7 last year. As recently as 2006, we had 17 days in July that exceeded 105! Here we are 2011, and I think it’s been at least 3-4 years since we’ve had that kind of weather. Not that I love the high heat, but it’s necessary for growing food and having it ripen appropriately on the vine. Also, we have not had a true spring here for years… we went straight from winter into summer. We were still getting snow here May 15th, and two weeks later, summer showed up! And the summers are much, much milder. I think we had about 7 months of winter this last year, about a week of spring, and we’ve had less than a month of summer. It’s already cooling off & it’s only the middle of August. Dunno what’s causing it, but I know it’s really happening. Anyone who thinks climate change isn’t real obviously isn’t trying to grow anything. It’s VERY real. Whether or not it’s man-made, as I said before, remains to be seen.

28 Joan Melancon { 08.24.11 at 11:06 am }

I agree with many others. In Louisiana when I was young in the 50’s and 60’s the winters were colder, the fall was cool, and the summers were warm with lots of rain. Now, we almost never have cold weather. If there is a cold day, it is followed by a warm day right after. The summers have become much drier than they used to be, and hotter, hovering around 98 to 100.

29 Jennifer { 08.24.11 at 10:40 am }

A few years ago I had a conversation with a Native American elder who told me that she believed we were entering a hundred-year cycle. She said she had seen this when she was very little, and her parents had told her about the weather changes.

30 Diana Norton { 08.24.11 at 10:32 am }

Since I live in Florida for the past 46 yrs–yes, I have seen some drastic changes not only here but everywhere on this planet. Do you think maybe our atmosphere and ozone may have been effected from all the sattelites, and shuttles, and rockets, burning holes in the top layer of our atmosphere–sending shock waves around the world? Could maybe this have an effect on our crazy weather? I’ve noticed these extreme weather changes after a lift off and a landing!!

31 Susan Simmons { 08.24.11 at 10:13 am }

The last few years in Utah have been untypical at any rate. We have gotten more snow in the mountains in the winter leaving the reservoirs full. The summers have been a bit hotter and what strikes me as somewhat inordinate is the amount of humidity.. very much more the last few years. The monsoonal flow has been much more dominate. However, anything is better than a ‘drought year’! I am sure we are sadly overdue for one….

32 Lance { 08.24.11 at 10:04 am }

Speaking globally, warming of the climate system is unequivical. The science of this is tried and true. Most likely this is due to the combined natural cycles that occur at many different intervals of which many on this site are referring to, AND the human impact due to our insatiable need to burn every natural resource available. However, regional changes in climate vary from place to place. In VA, where I have lived my entire life, snowfalls have decreased on average (over the last 30-years), temps and humidity have increased…And if it is at all possible, I have noticed that the seasons are even shifting from their typical meterological lengths and ‘normal’ timeframes on the calendar.

33 Trish { 08.24.11 at 9:52 am }

Weather changing or repeating history? Dinosaur on the way next!

34 Cheryl { 08.24.11 at 9:44 am }

Over the last few years I have noticed Ohio weather change. It seems that the winter/spring sticks around longer into June and the summer weather sticks around until mid-October. It used to be that once September came we would only have a few hot days but it doesn’t seem like that lately.

35 D. { 08.24.11 at 9:43 am }

The weather is not static. It changes all the time, not just from season to season, but ALL the time. If there were no changes I’d be more concerned. I have a friend who believes the sun revolves around the earth, not the other way around, and that the sun is causing major changes right now, just as it does from time to time in cycles. There are patterns which seem to last anywhere from 20 to 50+ years and then it recycles. That’s probably how it should be.

36 Lynn { 08.24.11 at 9:25 am }

I agree… the weather has it’s cycles…and we are now in the middle cycle. If we live long enough it will change back to OUR DAYS of growing up.

37 Martha Insall { 08.24.11 at 9:18 am }

I think I notice the weather more now (senior citizen syndrome) but it does seem to be somewhat different than when I was younger. More extremes. I think some of this awareness comes from the availability of world-wide information. Our earth has always been in a state of change since it was formed, constantly renewing itself, as it should. All living things change.

38 Phyllis { 08.24.11 at 9:11 am }

Here in Wisconsin, I well remember 4 seasons. Spring and fall barely exist the past few years. It stays cold or, cold and wet thru June. Only two months of summer in recent years and the rest is depressingly winter-ish!

39 Phil Hoge { 08.24.11 at 9:10 am }

The Springs in Missouri are short and cold then we go into hot Summers. It’s very dry but humid. I don’t remember weather like this when i was growing up. I believe the weather is changing. I don’t think we are causing the change, I believe it is part of a normal cycle of climate changes that the earth has always experienced.

40 Melissa { 08.24.11 at 9:09 am }

Yep, it’s changing alright…and it will never be the same. Everyone strap in and get ready to experience drastic changes in weather, water, food supplies, diseases, etc. We have tipped and there’s no going back. Not trying to be a half-empty sort of person but I believe it’s the reality – unfortunately, we Americans are experts at denying…..

41 sue schofield { 08.24.11 at 9:06 am }

It seems to be that for the last 20 years the seasons’ “start dates” have been creeping forward rather erratically with wide swings before the real season sets in. I fear that much of Texas and Oklahoma are undergoing desertification which will only increase the hot, dry springs and summers. If this continues through autumn, I think we will be or should be looking at significant changes in water usage and regulation.

42 Peter Klein { 08.24.11 at 8:53 am }

Same old same old. The weather is always changing. To the extent there is global warming, it cause the next ice age because you need open water in the arctic to cause more snow to fall in the north, which is need to start the next ice age, which I am hoping will happen. I love the cold.

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