Cooler weather on its way

 

Maybe it’s finally time to break out the long johns and stock up on firewood.

The region will feel a nip of cooler weather this weekend and during the week ahead, according to the National Weather Service.

Nightly lows are expected in the lower 40s for the rest of the month, reaching the 30s next weekend, well below average.

Afternoon high temperatures are not expected to hit 80 degrees again this year. Both weekends could be close to perfect for fall; the forecast shows little chance of rain.

University of Georgia climatologist Pam Knox said she’s happy to see the thermometer dip.

“I’m excited to be wearing some fall clothes,” she said.

Although next week will be colder than average for this time of year, it’s just normal variation and will give way to warmer days, she said.

The whole winter is likely to be like that, alternating warm and cold, she said. “We’re in a pattern this year of high level troughs and ridges of pressure, which means we’ll have alternating time periods of air low from the south and air flowing from the north,” she said. “Now we’re going into a pattern where the flow is from the northwest. It’s really coming from the Arctic.”

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s winter forecast, Athens and the rest of Georgia have about equal chances of being colder than usual, warmer than usual or about average. There’s also a slighter greater probability the winter will be drier than average.

Unsettled weather patterns far to the south of Athens make it especially hard to make predictions this year,

Some years our weather is strongly affected by an El Nino pattern, when the water temperature in the Pacific Ocean is warmer than average near the South American equatorial coast. Other years, that water is colder than normal.

But right now, neither one of those patterns is dominant — a neutral condition — and that makes long-term forecasting more uncertain, she said.

“Neutral means we’re more likely to see high swings in temperature. Neither one is dominant,” Knox said. “They are the opposite of each other, so we really don’t know what’s going to happen.”

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