Monday, December 31, 2012

After one month of winter ...

The first month of meteorological winter is nearly at an end, and if one trend has developed, it's been the lack of truly cold air in the Southeast.

Most meteorologists point to persistent low pressure over the Pacific Ocean, off the western coast of the United States, as the dominant player in our weather for December.  The counter-clockwise flow around the low has blocked the intrusion of polar air into the Southeast.

First, let's get the whole winter definition thing straight.  Meteorologists define winter as being from Dec. 1 through Feb. 28 -- or about three weeks ahead of the traditional definition of the season.

December 2012 will be among the 15 warmest in the 137 years of record-keeping in Charlotte. The average temperature will be about 6.7 degrees above the norm. There were nine days when the high was 65 degrees or warmer.

The final part of the month was cooler, but the chilly weather recently came far short of negating what happened earlier in the month.

For those hoping a winter storm would arrive in Charlotte, December has been a bust.

The month started dry, continuing a trend that began in September and created severe drought conditions in most of the Charlotte region. But over the last half of the month, the storm track has been pushed to the south, and a steady stream of low pressure systems has crossed the Carolinas.

For the first time since September, we're experiencing above-average rainfall for the month.

What's ahead?

Most of the long-range meteorologists I've read are predicting mild weather through the first two-thirds of January.  It's possible a renegade winter system could develop, possibly in a cold-air damming situation, but if the experts are to be believed, it will be at least the 20th of the month before cold air arrives in the Carolinas. And there's really no guarantee it'll come then.

One warning ... long-range forecasts come with plenty of shortcomings. After all, we heard predictions of polar outbreaks in the Charlotte region in early December and again around Christmas.  It didn't happen.

Meteorologists say the forecasts of five to seven days are a lot more reliable.  For now, we're looking at a continuation of the recent trend -- temperatures at, or slightly below, seasonal averages; and precipitation every three days or so.


Anonymous said...

The lack of comments on this should give you an idea how boring this story is.

Anonymous said...

Weather forecasting is nothing more than fortune telling. Beyond today and tomorrow, the predictions are worthless.

Buster Blue said...

Should we expect the opposite of this prediction, since the result of the last one ("cold Christmas") was a bust? or, should we prepare for North Carolina to join Florida as a state with no winter?