White House Blames 'Winter Weather' for Weak GDP Growth

By Craig Bannister and Matt Vespa | April 30, 2014 | 1:20pm EDT

The White House announced today that real GDP grew at a meager 0.1% annual rate in the first quarter:

Deviation in Temperature

"Real gross domestic product (GDP) rose 0.1 percent at an annual rate in the first quarter of 2014, following the 3.4 percent annual pace in the second half of 2013."

Severe winter weather is one reason for the slower growth, the White House says:

"Today's GDP estimate is subject to a number of notable influences, including historically severe winter weather, which temporarily lowered growth in the first quarter."

Citing two charts, the White House pointed to a deviation in the average number of "heating degree days" and the most government "rated" snowstorms in a quarter since 1956:

"The first quarter of 2014 was marked by unusually severe winter weather, including record cold temperatures and snowstorms, which explains part of the difference in GDP growth relative to previous quarters. The left chart shows the quarterly deviation in heating degree days from its average for the same quarter over the previous five years. By this measure, the first quarter of 2014 was the third most unusually cold quarter over the last sixty years, behind only the first quarter of 1978 and the fourth quarter of 1976. In addition, there were four storms in the first quarter that rated on the Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale (NESIS). The right chart shows that no quarter going back to 1956 had more than three such storms."

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