How Unusual is this Warm Weather?

thermo

Almost every year we hear the same questions about why it’s so warm. Whether it’s never remembering it being this warm before or how rare it is to be in the 60s and 70s in January, it shows how short our memories are when it comes to the wild weather swings that are more common than you’d think this time of year.

This is not a new kind of weather pattern for the Tennessee Valley; in fact, it’s the same thing that past generations of Alabama and Tennessee residents have experienced!

Here are some statistics based on Huntsville International Airport data between 1959 and 2012:

  • Temperatures rise above 68º F on at least one January day 58% of the time since 1959. (31 of 53 years)
  • Temperatures only fail to warm to at least 68º F on at least one January day 42% of the time. (22 of 53 years)
  • Of the years that we do reach 68º or higher, 65% of them have more than one day of 68º+ warmth. (20 of 31 years)
  • We have multiple days of 68º F or higher in January about 38% of the time. (20 of 53 years)
  • The largest temperature margin on a single January day occurred on 1/21/1959: high of 72º, low of 26º for a difference of 46 degrees in a single day!

To be fair about the data, these are simple statistics that do not attempt to explain why some years are warm and some years are not.  It’s just a simple look at past weather to see how frequently the weather behaves like this.  There are 22 years in that sample where the temperature never gets as warm as it is forecast to be Friday, Saturday and Sunday; in some cases the data shows gaps of as much as 6 years separating one occurrence of this kind of warmth to the next time it appears.

We won’t be having any single-day swings like that this week, but with high temperature approaching a record on Saturday (record is 71º, forecast is for 71º), we do expect a big swing back toward much colder weather through next week! There’s a full write-up on how we make this transition and get a LOT of rain over on the main forecast page at WHNT.com/Weather!

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-Jason
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