‘Double-dip’ La Niña means Georgia is likely in for a warm winter

October 18, 2021 Atlanta: With cool autumn temperatures, Ebony Crook enjoyed her first visit to Westside Reservoir Park in Atlanta on Monday, Oct.18, 2021. "I'm experiencing my child at play," she said. The cool autumn air that arrived over the weekend should stick around this week, contributing to chilly mornings and comfortable afternoons. Channel 2 Action News meteorologist Brad Nitz is predicting lows in the 50s all week, even though the afternoons will become gradually warmer as the week goes on. ThursdayÕs projected high is 76 degrees, and there are a few showers in the forecast, he said. The bulk of the rain Thursday will stay to the west,  according to Nitz. Scattered showers are 30% likely. ÒThe coverage is pretty limited, but still some isolated showers off and on through the day on Thursday,Ó he said. ÒThursday night and then into Friday morning, a chance of rain. That comes and goes in time for, by late Friday, some sunshine, and that sunshine stays with us next weekend.Ó Nitz said next weekend is looking dry and sunny with more lows in the 50s and afternoon highs in the low 70s. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

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October 18, 2021 Atlanta: With cool autumn temperatures, Ebony Crook enjoyed her first visit to Westside Reservoir Park in Atlanta on Monday, Oct.18, 2021. "I'm experiencing my child at play," she said. The cool autumn air that arrived over the weekend should stick around this week, contributing to chilly mornings and comfortable afternoons. Channel 2 Action News meteorologist Brad Nitz is predicting lows in the 50s all week, even though the afternoons will become gradually warmer as the week goes on. ThursdayÕs projected high is 76 degrees, and there are a few showers in the forecast, he said. The bulk of the rain Thursday will stay to the west, according to Nitz. Scattered showers are 30% likely. ÒThe coverage is pretty limited, but still some isolated showers off and on through the day on Thursday,Ó he said. ÒThursday night and then into Friday morning, a chance of rain. That comes and goes in time for, by late Friday, some sunshine, and that sunshine stays with us next weekend.Ó Nitz said next weekend is looking dry and sunny with more lows in the 50s and afternoon highs in the low 70s. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

New projections show likelihood that temperatures for the next three months will be above average

Those heavy coats in the back of your closet? They may stay put for most Georgians this winter.

New projections released last week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) show a high probability that temperatures will be above average across much of Georgia for the next three months. This winter may also be drier than normal, especially in the southern and central parts of the state, according to forecasting from NOAA.

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New projections released on November 18, 2021 by NOAA show a strong likelihood that temperatures across much of Georgia will be above average this winter.

Credit: NOAA

New projections released on November 18, 2021 by NOAA show a strong likelihood that temperatures across much of Georgia will be above average this winter.

Credit: NOAA

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New projections released on November 18, 2021 by NOAA show a strong likelihood that temperatures across much of Georgia will be above average this winter.

Credit: NOAA

Credit: NOAA

That’s because a La Niña pattern that developed earlier this year is expected to persist through winter and possibly continue into next spring. It’s also the second straight winter to feature La Niña, an occurrence that some meteorologists call a “double-dip.”

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New projections released November 18, 2021 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show that the odds are leaning in favor of below average precipitation across much of Georgia this winter.

Credit: NOAA

New projections released November 18, 2021 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show that the odds are leaning in favor of below average precipitation across much of Georgia this winter.

Credit: NOAA

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New projections released November 18, 2021 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show that the odds are leaning in favor of below average precipitation across much of Georgia this winter.

Credit: NOAA

Credit: NOAA

La Niña is triggered by temperature conditions in the Pacific Ocean, but the phenomenon can influence weather patterns across the globe. La Niña generally means drier, warmer conditions in the southern half of the United States and wetter weather in the northern half, while its opposite – El Niño – typically brings hot and dry conditions to northern states, and an increased risk of flooding to the south. El Niño and La Niña episodes usually last between nine and 12 months, but can occasionally last for years, according to NOAA.

While the odds clearly favor a warmer than average winter in Georgia, it’s important to remember that cold weather can and likely will still occur, said Marshall Shepherd, director of the atmospheric sciences program at the University of Georgia.

“It is important to keep in mind that conditions in a La Niña are not set in stone and can vary for a particular event,” Shepherd said. “Weather is your mood, climate is your personality. So, a cold day says nothing about climate change, just like your mood today says nothing about your personality.”

Looking back at the year so far, temperatures across the planet continue to reflect the strong influence of human-caused global warming.

So far, January to October ranks as the sixth hottest such period in the historical record dating back to 1880. Temperatures globally have been more than 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th-century average, and by the time the clock strikes midnight on December 31, NOAA scientists say it is virtually certain that 2021 will rank as one of the hottest years ever recorded.

“The year — 2021 — is virtually certain to rank among the 10 warmest years on record globally, with the highest probability of ranking as the sixth warmest year on record,” said Ahira Sánchez-Lugo, a climatologist with NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.

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