Originally created 10/27/01

Cold Weather Warmup



ATLANTA - The 2001-02 winter season will be like a bowl of gumbo for Georgians - a little bit of everything.

The winter weather outlook released last week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calls for an equal chance of temperatures averaging above normal, at normal or below normal.

Experts expect to see more variation from week to week than they saw last winter, with spits of snow followed by sunny, mild days.

"One week, we'll have winds from the south. Next week, we'll have winds from the north," said Pam Knox, the assistant state climatologist for Georgia, who works out of the engineering department at the University of Georgia.

This winter, Georgians should see a noticeable departure from the mild, warm winters of the late 1990s, said Paul Kocin, the head winter weather meteorologist for The Weather Channel, based in Marietta.

"This winter will have its share of cold weather," said Mr. Kocin, noting that the Atlanta-Athens-Augusta corridor will probably see a "better than average" chance of snow and ice.

"Last year, the cold came all at one time," said Jim Noel, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Peachtree City. "This year, we may have it spread out some more."

December 2000 was the second-coldest winter on record for much of northern Georgia. However, once the new year came, temperatures warmed up and there was little winter weather in the Peach State for the remainder of the season.

"Last winter was all December, basically," Mr. Noel said.

The Southeast's weather could become a concern for all Americans, given that the winter outlook calls for a combination of arctic outbreaks and continued drought - both detrimental to the Florida citrus crop.

"There's a good possibility" Mr. Kocin said, that north Florida will experience temperatures well into the teens - potentially damaging the citrus farms' produce.

In northeast Georgia, however, winter precipitation may result in normal amounts of wet weather.

"The tendency will be to start a little drier and get a little wetter," Mr. Noel said.

IMPACT: With the forecast of the cold lasting longer this winter, Georgians may see higher heating bills.