Fri., December 31, 2010 2:45pm (EST)

A Warmer, Drier Winter To Come?
By Melissa Stiers
Updated: 4 years ago

ATLANTA  —  
Warmer and drier winter days mean lower heating bills, but it's not good news for many farmers who depend on the cold weather and moisture. (photo by Jody Cris)
Warmer and drier winter days mean lower heating bills, but it's not good news for many farmers who depend on the cold weather and moisture. (photo by Jody Cris)
Warmer temperatures across the state today and this weekend are a sign of what to expect for the rest of the winter, says the state’s climatologist David Stooksbury.

"It looks like this period of cold dry weather is basically coming to end," says Stooksbury, "and we are going to go into a pattern that will give us warmer than normal weather but also continue this drier than normal pattern."

Stooksbury says this transition to a warm, dry winter, known as a La Nina pattern means lower heating bills.

But he says it’s also cause for concern among farmers.

Peach and blueberry growers need a certain amount of cold hours to produce their fruits.

Vidalia growers need moisture for their onions, and ranchers too to keep their pastures green for their dairy and beef cattle.

The coastal plains and south Georgia continue to experience extreme drought.

Still, Stooksbury says, don't put away your warm coats and winter wear, yet.

"But it’s still winter. We’re still going to have periods of cold weather, so not every day is going be this glorious day to even go out and play golf in. There’s still going to be some miserable cold days even though the next two months I expect to be nicer than what we’ve had in December."