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Culpeper Times • February 2-8, 2017

HOME & GARDEN Global warming continues, but will that affect this winter’s weather? WILD IDEAS

Noting the mood swings in the weather so far this winter, a couple of weeks ago I started wondering what the rest of the winter held in store. Then the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) came out with its annual report on climate, which says that 2016 was the warmest year on record. With El Niño as the catalyst, the globe experienced record warmth from January through August last year. (El Niño is a warming of the water in the equatorial Pacific associated with widespread changes in weather patterns.) Despite the cooling effects of La

Pam Owen

Niña in the remaining months of the year, the year ended with the “third warmest December on record for the globe,” with an average temperature 1.42 degrees F above the 20th century average. This put 2016 it in the same club as 2005, 2010, 2014 and 2015, which also broke records from previous years. The annual climate report from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, released at the same time as NOAA’s, echoed the latter’s findings. But what does this say about local weather? As the NASA report pointed out, “weather dynamics often affect regional temperatures,” so not every region on Earth experienced record-breaking warm temperatures last year. “For example,” the report said, “both NASA and NOAA found the 2016 annual mean temperature for the contiguous 48 states was the second


A NOAA map shows record warm temperatures for 2016, including in Virginia.

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After a temperature plunge the second week in January, temperatures started to rise the following week, but not enough to melt the ice along the North Fork of the Thornton River. 800.552.3904

legend, one NOAA map does show that the U.S. generally had “warmer than average temperatures,” while a strip that appears to run along the southern Appalachians (including Virginia) shows higher, “record warming” temps. While La Niña generally has a cooling effect globally, in the U.S. it typically is associated with winter temperatures that are warmer than normal in the Southeast and cooler

than normal in the Northwest, according to NOAA in a its October weather prediction for this winter. NOAA’s maps (see graphic) show that, while the southern part of Virginia has a 30-40 percent chance of having average temps above normal, up here in Northern Virginia, we have an equal chance of experiencing warmer or colder winter this year. ➤ See Weather, Page 10

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Culpeper Times - Feb. 2nd, 2017  

Culpeper Times - Feb. 2nd, 2017