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Are Crime Rates Influenced by the Weather?

In The Weather Channel’s new series Storm of Suspicion, criminal cases involving different weather events are explored. In some cases, weather conditions help investigators solve crimes, but other times it prevents cases from being solved.

Forensic meteorology is the science of using weather records, accounts from eyewitnesses, atmospheric data and reenactments to figure out the weather conditions at a certain time and location. It’s a compelling field that helps uncover all kinds of truths about weather’s influence on crime.

So, is it true that weather conditions affect crime rates?

When temperatures rise, so does crime

Research shows that there is a correlation between heating temperatures and rising crime rates. Hotter weather is connected with an increase of violence.

It may come at a surprise that a connection like this exists, but there is some simple logic to it. Aren’t we all a little more irritable when it’s hot outside? What if someone provoked you in the blistering heat? It’s sensical that an altercation might more likely occur when your comfort level is low.

And how about cold weather crimes?

If crime rates increase when temperatures rise, then is it the case that they fall when temperatures drop? It seems to be the case, according to research.

During the Winter of 2015, record-breaking low temperatures on the east coast were tracked. New York City enjoyed a 12-day streak of no homicides, the longest since recordkeeping started in 1994. Boston similarly experienced a 34% drop in major crimes after getting hit with six feet of snow.

Other types of weather’s influence on crime rates

Rainfall is often associated with a feeling of peace and tranquility. But the hard data shows that’s not how it plays out in some areas. Places that see extreme levels of rain, like India, report increased conflict in the wet conditions.

On the flip side, droughts are a factor in crimes committed in farming communities. When agriculture is threatened by a dry spell, especially in developing places like Africa, war and conflict is more prevalent.