9:33am

Fri February 3, 2012
The Commonwealth

Mild Winter Days May Give Way to Storms

The galoshes went back into the closet this week as Kentucky has enjoyed temperatures eclipsing 60 degrees. According to Kentucky Mesonet, a research network that compiles climate data from throughout the state, Christian County saw an average high of 67.1 degrees Wednesday.  Tuesday saw a high of 62.6 degrees and Monday 61.9 degrees.

According to Dave Powell, Christian County’s weather coordinator, the National Weather Service has certified this past December and January as the second warmest on record for western Kentucky.

The NWS forecasts highs in the 60s for the next two days. It expects storms starting tonight and moving into Monday, where highs will be in the 40s.

Powell said we should expect warmer-than-normal temperatures for the next 8 to 14 days.

“We’re talking averages,” Powell said. “You may have a day of cold but then back up to above normal the day after that. It’s not to say we won’t have cold spots but it is a couple of days at a time then it is back up above normal.”

Powell attributes the upswing in temperatures to the activity of the North Atlantic Oscillation over Greenland. Powell said the oscillation, a series of air currents in the North Atlantic Ocean, is in a positive phase right now, emitting prevailing winds that produce warmer than average temperatures in the eastern U.S.
The NAO is starting to move toward a neutral phase, Powell said, and if it gets into a negative phase, we will see colder temperatures.

“It has done this for much of the winter where it looks like it is headed down like that only to stop and go back up,” Powell said. “Right now the general assumption is by the mid-month of February, it will go into a negative phase.”

Storms over the next few days could be severe, Powell said, and should bring in some cool fronts. One danger of such warm weather is that the Gulf of Mexico is still warm, he said, which could provide fuel for storm systems.

“We could actually see a more severe storm season,” he said. “It would include severe storms, tornadoes, the whole gamut.”