Monday, June 5, 2023

Cold Christmas in Triad will counter climate trend

A white Christmas in the Triad is looking like a longshot again this year, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a frosty feel in the air for the holidays.

High temperatures in the 30s and lows in the teens are forecast for next Friday and Christmas Eve. According to the National Weather Service, there is a 50% chance of snow Friday morning, but no lasting accumulation, as temperatures finally settle above freezing by the afternoon.

Christmas Day is expected to be partly sunny, with a maximum temperature of 30°C and an overnight low of around 20°C.

The typical high in the Triad is 50 degrees in late December, with a typical low of about 32.

A late December cold snap will ease an increasingly warm winter trend in the Triad across North Carolina and much of the country.

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On a decade-by-decade basis, the Triad’s annual average temperature in winter — usually defined by meteorologists as December, January and February — climbed 4.5 degrees over the past 60 years, according to an analysis of National Weather Service data. Is.

Those averages have climbed steadily each decade, with the largest increase – 1.8 degrees – in the period from 2013 to last year.

The hottest Triad Christmas came in 2015, when temperatures reached an unseasonably high 74 degrees and the low only dropped to 64. 1984.

‘oh no’ or ‘oh well’

In the Triad and much of the Americas, winter temperatures are more affected by climate change than any other season.

When winter warming comes up in conversation, people tend to fall into two camps, says Corey Davis, assistant state climatologist with the NC State Climate Office, and a Kernersville native.

“One says, ‘Oh no, that means it won’t snow that much!’ And the other says, ‘Oh well, it won’t snow that much!’

Snowfall trends are declining — from an average of 10.3 inches per year in the period 1961 to 1990, to 7.1 inches annually in the years that followed, Davis noted.

“But there’s a lot more to determining winter temperatures than just what falls from the sky,” he added. “There’s a misconception that as winters get warmer, we won’t have Any Snow or cold days of course. While they’re certainly becoming less frequent, any winter still has plenty of cold air well up north of us, and if it drops far enough south, it can reach us and give us some pretty chilly and cold weather. Even snowy weather can give.

North Carolina is generally somewhere between those cold, continental air masses and the increasingly warm, tropical air to the south.

“In their battle over the winter season, tropical air is now winning more often,” Davis explained.

hot and wet

Davis said warmer winters and more humid winds from the south are also driving more precipitation in the Triad.

“It doesn’t mean that every winter is wet,” he said. “But often when it rains, we’re seeing higher totals and more frequent flooding issues.”

Since 1903, the Triad’s five warmest winters have all occurred in the last 11 years, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Applied Climate Information System’s Piedmont Triad International Airport. Last winter had the eighth highest average temperature.

Information for PTI is the longest continuous archive of weather data for the region.

In terms of precipitation, 2018–2019 was the region’s warmest winter on record, just ahead of 2019–2020 at No. 2. The winter of 2020–2021 was the ninth wettest.

“Any time you have high water or standing water, that can stick around for days at a time in the winter when evaporation rates are low, increasing homes’ risk of problems like mold and water damage, Not to mention potholes and cracks in sidewalks and foundations that wear out because water freezes and melts,” Davis explained. “In other words, even if you don’t mind removing less snow from your driveway, But it could be affected by warmer winters in ways you might not have thought about.”

Jon Deem covers climate change and the environment in the Triad and Northwest North Carolina. His work has been supported by 1Earth Fund and Z. Funded by a grant from the Smith Reynolds Foundation.


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