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Southeast Climate Monthly Webinar: January 23, 2024

Event Date
January 23, 2024
Event Time
10:00 am - 11:00 am

The arrival of rains across the region over the past two months helped eliminate most of the lingering drought from the Fall, with many rivers starting to experience flooding in this early part of flood/recharge season. Looking ahead, river flood risk is expected to stay above normal as we approach the spring and El Niño continues to keep the southeast U.S. in an active precipitation pattern, particularly along the eastern areas. While drought is expected to improve in Alabama and Georgia, it is expected to persist in western Tennessee and the U.S. Caribbean.  

Check out the video recording and summary  to learn more about Southeast climate conditions and a special presentation, "2023 – A Year in Review: Highlights from across the Southeast” from Karin Gleason, of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. For more information, please contact Meredith Muth (


Introduction and Welcome

Speaker: Chris Fuhrmann, Southeast Regional Climate Center

  • This webinar contains a special presentation on “2023 – A Year in Review: Highlights from across the Southeast.”



Climate Conditions 

Speaker: Chris Fuhrmann, Southeast Regional Climate Center

  • ​​Temperatures were below average across the Florida Panhandle, much of Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. Temperatures were above average across South Florida, eastern Carolinas, northern Virginia, and the U.S. Caribbean, where several locations are off to one of their warmest starts to the winter season on record.
  • Precipitation was above average across the eastern portion of the region, where some locations are off to one of their wettest starts to the winter season on record. In contrast, precipitation deficits were observed across much of Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, and the U.S. Caribbean.
  • Drought was eliminated across the eastern half of the region and improved across parts of Alabama, Tennessee, and the West Coast of Florida according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Drought expanded across Puerto Rico and persisted across the U.S. Virgin Islands. Drought is expected to improve in Alabama and Georgia, but persist in western Tennessee and the Caribbean.
  • El Niño is expected to gradually weaken through the winter, with a transition to El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) neutral conditions expected during the spring.
  • The next several weeks look to be warm across much of the region, with a transition to somewhat drier conditions towards the end of the period.
  • Over the next three months, temperatures are expected to be near average across much of the region (above average across northern Virginia), with above-average precipitation everywhere except Tennessee. Above-average temperatures and near-average precipitation are expected across the Caribbean.
  • Additional regional climate and drought information:



Water Resources: Winter Flood Outlook 

Speaker: Todd Hamill, Southeast River Forecast Center, National Weather Service

  • Things have changed significantly regarding water resources in the Southeast U.S. over the past two months. The El Niño pattern that was forecasted finally took hold, and there were numerous precipitation events that produced widespread minor flooding and numerous moderate and major floods in the area. Many rivers and creeks recovered from the dry, drought conditions in the fall, with many of them flooding in the early part of flood/recharge season. The 7-day U.S. Geological Survey  streamflows are mostly above normal across the Southeast, with some pockets of below normal.
  • The one area that hasn’t gotten enough rain to break the drought conditions and begin to flood is Mississippi and much of Alabama. This looks to change over the next week as a frontal system should bring many days of rain to the area, which will help erode the drought and likely produce widespread flooding.
  • Looking Ahead: Overall through the 3-month period, the river flood risk is above normal as we approach spring as El Niño continues to keep the southeast U.S. in an active precipitation pattern.  
  • View additional information.



Agricultural Impacts and Outlook

Speaker: Pam Knox, University of Georgia

  • Improvements in soil moisture due to a lot of rain in recent weeks allowed some planting of winter grains and growth in pastures.
  • Multiple cold outbreaks damaged citrus and other cold-sensitive plants, but it is too early to determine how much this impacted the crops.
  • Chill hour accumulations are better than 2023, and most areas should receive sufficient chill hours for a good flower bloom.
  • A warm-up in the next few weeks could lead to some early blooming, but colder weather is likely to occur later in February.
  • Additional Information:



2023 – A Year in Review: Highlights from across the Southeast

Speaker: Karin Gleason, NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information

It was a warm year across much of the Lower 48:

For the Southeast:

  • It was the second-warmest year on record, with record warm temperatures observed across parts of the central Gulf Coast states and coastal Florida.
  • Precipitation was near average overall with dry conditions present from the central Gulf Coast states to northern Virginia and across southwest Florida. It was wetter-than-average from central South Carolina along the Atlantic Coast to southeast Florida.
  • Drought peaked in late November with approximately 60% of the region in D1–D4 drought.
  • The tropical cyclone season for the Atlantic Basin ranked fourth highest for named storms. Only three Atlantic cyclones made landfall including Hurricane Idalia across the Big Bend region of Florida, Tropical Storm Harold in Texas, and Tropical Storm Ophelia in North Carolina.
  • The tornado season across the U.S. was near average. The Southeast saw several strong/violent tornadoes, including an EF-3 in March near the Alabama-Georgia border and an EF-3 that caused damage in eastern North Carolina on July 19. A rare EF-3 tornado touched down in Virginia Beach, Virginia on April 30.
  • Billion-dollar disasters had a record year in 2023 with 28 events identified. Events identified across portions of the Southeast include: Hurricane Idalia, the Fort Lauderdale flooding, and two severe weather events. The Southern U.S. was also impacted by drought and heat events.

For more information, contact Karin Gleason



Q&A and Closing

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

  • Register for the next webinars!
    • February 27, 2024: 5th National Climate Assessment: Southeast
    • March 26, 2024: U.S. Phenology Network and the 2024 Pollen Season
    • April 23, 2024: Tornado Vulnerability in the Southeast


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