Warm weather not the norm

Published 10:27 pm Friday, January 27, 2012

Flowers are beginning to bud in the warm weather.

January has kicked the year off with a mix of rain and sunshine, but the surprise has been the unusually warm temperatures that have plagued Atmore as well as the county and state.

Normally a month reserved for colder temperatures during the winter season, this January has seen the mercury drop as low as the 30s and and as high as the 70s.

In 2011, the temperatures were colder than they are the present time, which comes from a difference in the jet stream pattern, National Weather Service meteorologist Brian Daly said.

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“As of now this is the ninth warmest year,” he said. “A change in the jet stream pattern is normally the cause. Last year, the temperatures were colder due to a deep trough a third of the eastern United States. This year, it is more zonal and transitional.”

With warmer than normals temperatures hitting the area, how it has affected crops has been a worry.

According to Ken Kelley at Escambia County’s Alabama Extension office, the crops haven’t really been damaged so far.

“So far we are doing all right,” Kelley said. “We are bound to have some more cold weather and if it comes before the plants are budding, everything should be good. But, if they have budded out, a freeze could certainly hurt the crops and gardens.”

The weather plays a big part in having a good growing season and for the past several months, Kelley said, the crops were not getting enough rain and everything had gotten really dry.

“That is not the case now,” Kelley said. “We are still way below our average of rain for this time of the year, but it’s a lot better now than it was. The weather hasn’t affected the local farmers too much. It’s between seasons and there’s not that much in the ground yet, except for some feed crops.”

With winter still having almost two months left, it looks as if the warm temperatures could become a fixture.

When examining how warm it has been during the first month of 2012, Daly said he expects things to stay the same.

“I would think with our temperature, it will continue to be warm weather,” he said. “This should last throughout the rest of the season.”