Christmas is almost here, but it might not be time to pull out all the coats and gloves yet.
December temperatures in the Augusta area have been above the normal 59 degrees, with highs are climbing to the 70s.
Bill Murphey, a climatologist and chief meteorologist with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, said the warm spell should continue throughout winter.
“So far I don’t see any real big cold outbreaks in the outlook,” Murphey said.
He attributed the warmer-than-normal conditions to La Niña patterns, which will persist until early spring.
Last December, the area experienced unusually cold weather. It was the second-coldest winter on record in Augusta since at least 1900, Murphey said, with some days’ temperature never reaching 30 degrees.
However, after December, the area experienced warmer-than-normal conditions for the rest of the winter.
La Niña also brings drier conditions.
Last winter, the Augusta area was experiencing moderate drought conditions, but this winter 80 percent of the state is experiencing severe or extreme drought conditions.
Augusta currently falls into the extreme drought category.
During the past year, the area has experienced a deficit of all least 12 inches in precipitation.
“The drought has a lot of factors involved and I don’t see a lot of relief as long as we’re in this La Niña pattern,” Murphey said.
The one “wild card” meteorologists look out for in La Niña patterns is the North Atlantic oscillation, which can provide a brief period of precipitation during the winter.