Warmer, wetter winter weather means January must be on spring break

Warmer, wetter winter weather means January must be on spring break

January 24th, 2012 by Kate Belz in News

Trenton Golf Club pro shop attendant Gary Spears rides through running water on the course via the concrete cart path at hole No. 18 Monday in Trenton, Ga. Rain soaked the North Georgia area early Monday. "The course is closed today," Spears said. This path was the only one under water on the course that drains very well, according to Jim Holloway, manager of Trenton Golf Club.

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

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• "Normal" January temperature - 40.5 degrees

• January 2012 - 43.5 degrees (to date)

• January 2011 - 37.4

• January 2010 - 36.4

• Coldest recorded January - 28.5 (1977)

• Warmest recorded January - 53.7 (1950)

Source: National Weather Service

Last January, Chattanooga sidewalks were lined with rock salt. This January, they're lined with green daffodil shoots.

After an unseasonably cold winter at the start of 2011, the Chattanooga weather pendulum has swung once again, bringing in a wet, warm 2012.

Last January was the 22nd-coldest in Chattanooga's recorded history, while this January is the 22nd warmest, according to the National Weather Service in Morristown, Tenn.

Those relieved not to open astronomically high electric bills in the mail can thank La Niña, the weather pattern responsible for bringing in milder temperatures and stormy weather.

"The La Niña effect was easily recognizable as early as last fall," explained WRCB-TV Channel 3 chief meteorologist Paul Barys, who predicted a mild and soggy winter. "It has a tendency to keep things stormy in the South."

As of Sunday, 4.09 inches of rain have fallen in Chattanooga this month, but plenty more is expected, said Sam Roberts, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Morristown. Last January was also fairly soggy, with 4.27 inches of recorded precipitation. But this isn't out of the ordinary, as the normal amount of rainfall expected for the month is 5.13 inches.

Last year, temperatures dropped because a jetstream was hovering right above the tri-state area. This year, it hasn't been as close, Barys said.

The warm, wet pattern is likely to continue, Roberts said.

"It's definitely looking like it will stay this way," Roberts said. "The three-month outlook keeps us at above-normal temperatures," he said.

Today will be the "pick day of the week," said Barys, with sunny skies and highs reaching close to 60.

By midweek another cluster of storms will move in, dumping up to 2 inches of rain during the days leading up to what Barys says will be a sunny weekend.

Contact staff writer Kate Harrison at kharrison@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6673.