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Southeast Climate Monthly Webinar: January 11, 2021

Event Date
January 11, 2022
Event Time
10:00 am - 11:00 am

December was warm with several temperature records broken across the Southeast region. Recent precipitation events have improved streamflows and reduced some of the drought severity across the region. A cold outbreak later this month could freeze some areas, but should not reach too far into Florida. This month’s topical presentation discussed hourly precipitation trends in the Southeast.


Introduction and Welcome

Speaker: Sandra Rayne, Southeast Regional Climate Center

  • Webinar focus: Climate and special topics pertaining to the Southeast region.
  • Our special topic today is hourly precipitation trends in the Southeast.



Climate Conditions 

Speaker: Sandra Rayne, Southeast Regional Climate Center

  • Overall, temperatures last month were above average, and some locations observed their warmest December on record. Precipitation was variable across the region, with above average precipitation for North Carolina and Virginia and below average for parts of the Gulf Coastal region.
  • La Niña Advisory: La Niña conditions are expected to continue with a 95% chance through winter 2021–22 and a transition to ENSO-neutral during spring 2022 (60% chance April–June). The next update this Thursday, January 13, 2022.  
  • Drought: Recent rains and snow have helped to constrain and even alleviate some of the existing drought conditions in the region. Severe drought (D2) is still found in the Carolinas, with moderate drought (D1) extending into parts of Virginia. In the Caribbean, moderate drought (D1) is found in Puerto Rico, with severe drought (D2) and extreme drought (D3) in parts of the Virgin Islands. The Climate Prediction Center's (CPC) Monthly Drought Outlook shows drought persisting in Virginia, the Carolinas, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Drought development is likely in the Florida Panhandle.
  • Looking Ahead, Next Week: The CPC's January 15–19 outlook shows a higher probability of cooler temperatures for Virginia and North Carolina and a probability of wetter conditions across most of the region. 
  • Looking Ahead, Seasonal: The current CPC three-month outlook shows a higher probability of above-normal temperatures. There are equal chances of wetter or drier conditions in Virginia, western North Carolina, northern Georgia, and northern Alabama with the probability of drier conditions elsewhere—a typical La Niña pattern for winter. The next CPC seasonal outlook will be released on January 20.



Water Resources and Winter Outlook 

Speaker: Jeff Dobur, Southeast River Forecast Center, National Weather Service

  • Recent precipitation events have resulted in improved conditions—back to normal levels across the Southeast.
  • Lake levels are near or slightly above target pools across the Southeast.
  • Dry weather and lower streamflow are typical with La Niña.
  • Looking Ahead: Winter river flood outlook calls for river flooding to be slightly less extensive and of less magnitude than typical based on La Niña and National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center outlooks. Water resources issues are becoming less of a concern heading into the peak recharge period, though we should continue to keep eye on changing conditions given La Niña.
  • Additional information can be found here



Agriculture Impact and Outlook

Speaker: Pam Knox, University of Georgia (presented by Meredith Muth, NOAA/NIDIS)

  • Dry weeks have allowed fieldwork, planting, and harvest to catch up.
  • Warm conditions increased weed and disease pressure but helped with winter grains and forage.
  • Dry conditions have decreased somewhat, but the next two weeks could be fairly dry again
  • Frost has ended growing conditions in northern areas. A cold outbreak later this month could freeze some areas that have not seen killing frost but should not reach far into Florida. Freeze maps are found here. Chill hour calculator is found here.
  • Additional information: Sign up for the Climate and Agriculture in the Southeast: Blog.



Hourly Precipitation Trends of the Southeast United States

Speaker: Vincent Brown, LSU/Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program (SCIPP, a NOAA RISA Program)

  • Dr. Brown presented his research on assessing precipitation trends, which included (1) the creation of annual and seasonal climatology of hourly precipitation characteristics across the Southeast U.S. (1960–2017) and (2) developing a time series of hourly precipitation characteristics to test for trends.
  • Key Takeaways:
    • Using daily precipitation totals does not tell the precipitation story.
    • Using only accumulations does not tell the story.
    • Hourly data is helpful.
    • Be aware of a potential bias in hourly precipitation data if investigating precipitation event duration.
    • Gridded products solve some spatial issues, but the temporal record (Stage IV) is not there yet.
  • For questions or additional information on this research, contact Vincent Brown or see Brown et. al., 2019.




Speaker: Meredith Muth, National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS)

  • Additional resources for monitoring drought conditions:
  • Register for the next webinars:
    • February 8, 2022, Flood Climatology in the Southeast, Jeff Dobur, NWS Southeast River Forecast Center
    • March 8, 2022, Citizen Science for Understanding Weather and Climate: The CoCoRaHS Volunteer Network


About This Webinar

The Southeast Climate Monthly Webinar Series is hosted by the Southeast Regional Climate Center, the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), and the NOAA National Weather Service. These webinars provide the region with timely information on current and developing climate conditions such as drought, floods, and tropical storms, as well as climatic events like El Niño and La Niña. Speakers may also discuss the impacts of these conditions on topics such as agriculture production, water resources, wildfires, and ecosystems.


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