December expected to be among top 10 for warmest

Published 10:32 am Thursday, December 29, 2011

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

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 among the top 10 warmest on record, said Larry Brown, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wakefield. This December is also considerably warmer than it was one year ago.

The normal average 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 the case in the winter, he said.

In Richmond, the average 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.

Today, Dec. 30, is expected to be in the low 60s, while the weekend calls for the upper 50s.

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

Making long-term weather predictions is tougher during a North Atlantic oscillation, so it’s hard to say what will happen in January, he said.

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