Georgia Climatologist Says 2017 Was State’s Warmest Year Ever

February 5, 2018

A new report shows that 2017 was the warmest year on record for Georgia.

The annual average statewide temperature for 2017 was tied with 2016 for the warmest on record, with 65.8 degrees (18.8 Celsius) as the average mean temperature, Georgia state climatologist Bill Murphey said.

Atlanta broke records throughout the entire year, as it had the third warmest winter and spring on record, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. For the city, 2016 and 2012 were the No.1 and No. 2 warmest years, respectively.

There were many factors that could have contributed to Georgia’s warm year, including very warm overnight low temperatures, the clouds which affect infrared radiation cooling and evaporation, Murphey said. A La Nina period occurred from about April 2016 until about June 2017, he also noted.

El Nino and La Nina are the periodic warming and cooling periods of the equatorial eastern and central Pacific Ocean. It can shift weather patterns over a period of months, and the last La Nina brought on warm and dry conditions for Georgia.

“Recall how dry it was in Georgia, especially during the fall and winter La Nina event of 2016, with all the north Georgia wildfire activity,” he said. “In fact, annual average temperatures for 2016 for Atlanta were the warmest on record…The annual average statewide temperature for 2017 was tied with 2016 for the warmest on record.”

The El Nino phase that followed the La Nina event of 2016 brought on wetter-than-average conditions in 2017, he said. Atlanta had its first-ever tropical storm warning with Hurricane Irma, and Georgia had 113 tornadoes. Plus, the Bermuda high pressure system, which is responsible for prolonged heat waves in the Eastern part of the country, also helped with the warmer than normal temperatures in 2017.

Nationally, the majority of the United States had “much above average” temperatures for 2017, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information.

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