This month is third-coldest January in Macon history

alopez@macon.comJanuary 30, 2014 

January wasn’t this cold in Middle Georgia last year.

So far, the average temperature this month for the Macon area is more than 13 degrees colder than it was in January 2013.

There have been six days when temperatures dropped into the teens this month, but last January there weren’t any.

Not counting Friday, there have been 22 days this month when the temperature reached freezing, according to climate data from the National Weather Service in Peachtree City.

In January 2013, there were just nine days with freezing temperatures.

The average temperature for this January, at 39.7 degrees, is the third lowest on record. The coldest all-time January in Macon, averaging 36.7 degrees, came in 1940, said Alex Gibbs, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

The 2.1 inches of snow that Macon received Wednesday at the Middle Georgia Regional Airport also is significantly more than the average January total of 0.3 inches.

Cold weather and climate change

Though it may be tempting to do so, scientists say people should not point to cold winters as proof that climate change isn’t happening.

There are new studies about how ice melting in the Arctic affects the climate which could explain the incidence of dramatic winter storms, said Melanie Fitzpatrick, climate scientist with the Berkeley, Calif., office of The Union of Concerned Scientists.

“The jet stream changes according to the kind of ice that is in the Arctic,” Fitzpatrick said. “It can bring warmer weather much farther north, which is what happened last week in Russia and parts of Europe and then it can bring colder weather much farther south, which is what happened in the United States.”

“And we know that the globe as a whole is still warming,” Fitzpatrick said. “We know that every decade is hotter than the last decade. And last year, 2013, was actually the fourth-warmest year on record globally.”

Another phenomenon scientists have been noticing is called “spring creep,” where some places are seeing the season arrive 10 days earlier than expected.

Spring creep may be happening in the Macon area this year. Climate experts at the National Weather Service are predicting above average temperatures for the Macon area in February, March and April, Gibbs said.

And if Middle Georgia residents are annoyed with January weather, they can take heart in the fact that they don’t live in Australia.

One of the most significant multi-day heat waves on record hit there two weeks ago, as a dome of very hot air developed and a number of heat records were broken, according to the Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology.

The temperature reached 110 degrees in Melbourne, a city of 4.2 million in southern Australia, for two consecutive days.

To contact writer Andres David Lopez, call 744-4382.

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