Warmer win­ter pre­dic­tion falls flat

The Covington News - - Front page - By Gabriel Khouli apittman@cov­news.com

Cli­ma­tol­o­gists had pre­dicted a warmer-than-av­er­age win­ter, but that hasn’t quite been the case. Chang­ing weather pat­terns have caused a se­ries of Arc­tic blasts to blow through Ge­or­gia bring­ing record cold and abun­dant snow­fall.

Sev­eral cities across the state had record cold tem­per­a­tures in De­cem­ber and ex­pe­ri­enced the cold- est De­cem­ber since 2000. Cov­ing­ton’s av­er­age tem­per­a­ture last month was six de­grees lower than av­er­age, and with those lower temps, came higher heat­ing bills.

For the sec­ond straight win­ter, Newton County res­i­dents have faced bru­tally cold con­di­tions. Cov­ing­ton’s 9,273 elec­tric cus­tomers had an av­er­age bill of $95.40 in De­cem­ber, while the 8,213 gas

cus­tomers shelled out $ 80.44.

Jan­uary hasn’t been much bet­ter, as the At­lanta re­gion re­ceived 3 inches of snow­fall, in ad­di­tion to some sleet and freez­ing rain ac­cu­mu­la­tion.

Al­though cli­ma­tol­o­gists have been sur­prised by the ex­treme in­flux of Arc­tic air, they are still ex­pect­ing warmer win­ter weather to come sooner or later.

“ The mil­lion dol­lar ques­tion is when will this end. It’s tough to say,” As­sis­tant State Cli­ma­tol­o­gist Pam Knox said Thurs­day.

Knox said the state could see a rapid re­turn to warmer con­di­tions, but this com­bi­na­tion of weather sys­tems has not of­ten been seen, and it’s dif­fi­cult to pre­dict how things will play out.

Util­ity cus­tomers may still come out ahead com­pared with last year, when Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary were bit­terly cold. In ad­di­tion, elec­tric­ity us­age was down 12 per­cent in Novem­ber.

De­spite all the snow­fall and win­ter pre­cip­i­ta­tion, cli­ma­tol­o­gists were cor­rect in their pre­dic­tion for a drier win­ter. Most cities were a cou­ple of inches be­low av­er­age in De­cem­ber, al­though Jan­uary’s storm may help a bit. Farm­ers gen­er­ally de­pend on the win­ter months to re­plen­ish soil mois­ture.

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