This year the forecast looked like this:
|Map shows U.S. areas predicted to have well above (red) or well below (blue) normal winter temperatures in 2011-2012. Image credit NOAA/CPC.|
|Map shows U.S. areas predicted to have well above (green) or well below (tan) normal winter precipitation in 2011-2012. Image credit: NOAA/CPC.|
|Mean temperatures across the U.S. from December 1-30, 2011. Image credit: NOAA/CPC.|
The weather pattern will revert back by next weekend and temperatures will once again be above normal for much of the country. In fact, January is still forecast to be above normal for much of the country.
|Temperature Outlook for January 2012. Image Credit: NOAA/CPC.|
As I mentioned the wild card is the Arctic Oscillation (AO) which has been in a negative phase the past two winters. In fact two winters ago it was in the most negative phase in years. This year the Arctic Oscillation has been in the positive phase. You can see how the two phases affect temperature in the following figure:
|Image credit NOAA/CPC.|
Thus, it appears that the forecast will remain on track. This winter will likely be warmer and drier than normal for much of South Carolina. There will be cold outbreaks, but they are likely to be brief. The more disconcerting forecast is the one for drier than normal. This may worsen the drought conditions for the spring planting season. More on that in a later post.