Midterm Winter Check Reveals Warmer-than-Usual Temps

Talking with NC Assistant State Climatologist Corey Davis. How’s this winter stacking up as far as winters go, Corey?

Mike, February is our shortest month, but we don’t want to shortchange it. Let’s show it some love, especially here on Valentine’s week. So through the midpoint of February, the big story is just how warm the temperatures have been. Most areas across the Carolinas are running anywhere from three to six degrees above average for the month so far. Well, if you remember last Saturday afternoon, we had highs up in the 70s. Our highs have stayed in the 60s all week since then. And if you walk outside, you’re starting to see the bugs pop out on the trees, some of the flowers emerging. It has certainly not been a very wintry February starting to see more signs of spring out across the landscape. And unfortunately, Mike, at least for some folks that means we’re also not seeing a lot of snow, and the chances of snow for the rest of winter are not looking very good. It looks like we’ll probably stay warmer through the end of February and in to the first part of March. So for the second year in a row, it looks like we will finish the winter, at least across most of North and South Carolina outside of the mountains, without any measurable snowfall this season.

And with that in mind, how are we looking as far as moisture levels go across the Carolinas?

Well, that’s another reason why we really haven’t seen as many snow chances lately as since mid to late January. We’re not seeing precipitation with the same frequency that we did earlier in the winter, especially across the eastern part of North Carolina. Those systems that have been coming through once or twice a week back in December in January are now coming through only maybe once every two or three weeks in those areas. So it has been almost a month in some places like Greenville and Washington in eastern North Carolina since they’ve seen a decent rainfall. They only had about quarter to a half inch of rain over the past week. So those areas are starting to build up a precipitation deficit here in the second half of winter. Right now anywhere from about seven tenths of an inch to an inch and a half. below normal for the month of February. So we are seeing some abnormally dry conditions on the Drought Monitor map this week, really right along to just west of the Albemarle Sound, I’d say nothing to be too concerned about at this point. Again, the deficits are small enough that if we could get one more decent rain this winter, that’ll help get rid of some of those deficits and also get that sort of moisture ready for the planting. But again, with the weather is warm as it’s been I think the temptation is there for a lot of the farmers to go ahead and plant. Just keep in mind anytime we usually get a warm February like this. It’s almost inevitable. It’s sometime in March or at least early April. We will get another night or two of those sub-freezing temperatures. So for the folks that have plants in the ground or in the garden, just be aware we’re probably not done with those cool nights for the season yet.

Well, you took the question right out of my head because I know that temptation is to get an early start and maybe I can double crop this year, you know, and try to get ahead of it. And with your advice well taken there, what does the forecast hold for us right now?

We’re gonna be a little bit cooler by the weekend. There’s a cold front that’s gonna come through later today and first thing tomorrow morning. A very slight chance of rain with that but it looks like the totals are going to be really limited maybe a 10th of an inch at the most. Then after that we’ll be back closer to our normal high temperatures for Saturday and Sunday, around 50 degrees but we’re not going to waste much time warming back up next week. We’ll be back to around 60 on Monday in the low 60s On Tuesday, maybe upper 60s By Wednesday. So the spring like weather that we’ve been feeling over the last week is going to return in full force next week. So again, this very on wintry February it looks like it will finish that way as well. So

The average temperature around this time a year is lower 50s, isn’t it?

That’s right. Yeah, low to mid 50s, especially by the end of February.

So your advice to farmers is, don’t pull that trigger just yet.

Exactly. It never fails when we see this sort of false spring event where we get really warm weather at the end of winter and early spring. We almost always see at least one if not multiple sub-freezing nights before we get into the midpoint of spring in the typical start of the growing season. So again, at this point, it’s tempting, but it’s probably not worth the risk.