Yes, it was warmer

Published 11:40 pm Friday, December 30, 2011

By Gwen Albers

Tidewater  News

For John Fuhrmann, the grass-cutting season has lasted through December. That’s longer than normal in Western Tidewater.

Email newsletter signup

The owner of Old Oak Lawn and Landscape in Carrsville, Fuhrman can thank a weather pattern that has most of the United States experiencing above average temperatures and a lack of snowfall.

“It’s made the growing season (longer),” Fuhrmann said.

Western Tidewater’s December is expected to be among the 10 warmest on record, said Larry Brown, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wakefield. This December also was considerably warmer than last December.

The normal average high temperature for Norfolk in December is 52.1 degrees, Brown said. This month, the average has been 59.1 degrees. Even though Western Tidewater tends to be warmer than Norfolk in the summer, that’s not usually the case in the winter, he said.

In Richmond, the average high temperature for December is 50.7 degrees; this year, it’s been 57 degrees. Last year’s average for the same month was 41.4 degrees.

Brown attributed the warmth to the North Atlantic Oscillation.

“We had the negative phase of the oscillation (last year, when December and January temperatures were below normal),” he said. “This year, it’s the positive phase. All of the cold air has been locked up in Canada.”

At the same time, the Southwest, including Arizona, has experienced below average temperatures, Brown said.

Temperatures for the last day of the month and the first day of the new year are expected to reach into the low to mid 60s.

“That’s 10 degrees above average,” Brown said.

High temperatures, however, are expected to fall back into the low 40s by midweek.

Making long-term weather predictions is tougher during a North Atlantic oscillation, so it’s hard to say what will happen for the rest of January, Brown said.

“It’s very unpredictable except for a couple weeks out,” Brown said. “It likely will not be as much above average as December.”