Is it just me, or is it REALLY getting warmer?
by Wayne Gentry, Meteorologist
Well, evidently, it's not just me, and it's not just the Southeastern part of the country. The numbers are in and it's official....The United States recorded its warmest year ever in 2006, according to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). The average annual temperature for the country was 55 degrees F, 2.2 degrees F above the 20th century mean. At the tail end of the year, it appeared that 2006 would come in third overall, but December ended up being the warmest ever for New England, 4th warmest for the country as a whole (1939, 1957, and 1933 were warmer).
Well it's one thing being able to get the weather right looking backward...What's going to happen next?
The seasonal outlook for winter (Spring begins on March 20th) calls for it to be warmer than usual over much of the nation, but NOT as warm as 2006. As always, there are many variables involved, but the primary factor this winter is El Nino, the warming of equatorial waters in the central Pacific. El Nino's effects on the United States include a southward dip in the jet stream which should bring us better chances of rain in the Southeast (badly needed...New Orleans, Pensacola and Panama City Florida all fell two feet shy of normal rainfall in 2006,). Temperatures are expected to be about average through Spring for our neck of the woods, and based upon recent trends, we should see a warmer than average summer.
In the meantime, keep watching the Tourist Network, I'll keep my eyes on the sky AND the thermometer.