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  • P.J. Gudz

A Chance at Snow?

If you're a snow lover, the odds are not working in your favor for snowfall this year in north Georgia. A multitude of factors are in play right now blocking the chance of snowfall. However, never say never, but the odds are unlikely.

The global weather patterns are highly influenced by what the meteorological world calls the ENSO cycle (El-Niño Southern Oscillation). From the National Weather Service, ENSO is defined as the:

"climate pattern involving changes in the temperature of waters in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean."

And, yes, this impacts the weather patterns globally. Currently, we are in a La-Niña ENSO cycle meaning that the sea-surface temperatures across the Pacific Ocean are below average. According to a report updated on January 30, 2023 by the Climate Prediction Center (CPC), there is an 82% chance that the cycle returns to a neutral phase. And with that, warmer than average temperatures are expected for the southern US along with above average rainfall.

Image from NWS Newport/Morehead City NC

This phase shift is lining up perfectly with the weather that we are having here in the Classic City of Athens and across north Georgia recently. For the month of January, the average rainfall is 4.36" in Athens. We recorded from the Ben Epps Airport 9.00", just over double the usual amount. This is a common theme that we saw across the region. In Atlanta, the average rainfall for the first month of the year is 4.59" of rain. The confirmed monthly total was 7.23". And this pattern doesn't look to be showing any mercy.

Image from the Climate Prediction Center

Released on January 31, 2023, the CPC issued their monthly outlook for the month of February. On the left side of the image shows the prediction for above or below normal temperatures and on the right the chances of above or below normal precipitation. From the image above, the Southeast is in for more rain with "above average" chances and "above average" chances of seeing warmer temperatures. Now, February is the month of change with average temperatures increasing and the daylight hours becoming longer, so things warming up is normal. Just not warmer than average.

Snowfall in February is not unheard of across the Peach State. The last significant snowfall to impact north Georgia was on February 8, 2020. Also, just to mention, a La Niña year as well. Areas from the heart of Atlanta eastward to Athens saw an inch of snow or less and as you traveled northward into the Blue Ridge Mountains totals became higher with some areas seeing eight inches.

The likelyhood of seeing snow this winter is not looking great across the region. But, there is still always a chance. And that's something that The WeatherDawgs here at the University of Georgia will be watching to keep you ahead of the storm.

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