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Temperatures on the rise during the holiday season

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

Gunilla Jenkins, of McDonough, sat outside her custom-framing shop adjacent to the McDonough Square, wearing a T-shirt, jeans, sunglasses, and a smile on her face.

A native of Sweden, Jenkins said she is accustomed to spending the holidays in cold weather, but that she is enjoying the abnormally high temperatures that are being felt across Georgia and much of the southeast.

"It's a welcome relief from all the cold Christmases I've spent," said Jenkins, who has lived in Georgia for the last six years.

Climate and weather authorities in Georgia say the high temperatures can be attributed to a high-pressure system currently affecting much of the southeast.

According to state climatologist David Stooksbury, the current weather patterns are part of a La Nina front which originated in subtropical regions to the south. This, he said, is in stark contrast to the patterns originating in Canada that normally make their way south during this time of year.

In addition, he said dry soil, due to the current drought in much of the state, has further exacerbated weather conditions.

"Energy that the soils absorb from the sunlight can heat the air or evaporate moisture from the soils," he said. "But, there's very little moisture in the soils to evaporate, so the energy goes back into heating the air."

He said that while the moisture needs of most plants are not at their greatest during traditionally cooler months, trees and plants could be affected next summer, if there isn't enough rainfall during the winter and spring to "recharge deep soil moisture."

"Unfortunately, with a La Nina pattern, there's typically a warm and dry winter and spring," he said, adding that, due to the current statewide watering ban, very little can be done to counteract the problem, and hydrate trees and plants.

According to Barry Gooden, meteorologist with the National Weather Service's office in Peachtree City, temperatures can be expected to continue to vary due to the lack of moisture in the air.

He said temperatures will likely be "warm and unseasonably mild" through today, and that a small frontal system is expected to bring temporary relief, with a 40 percent chance of showers through Friday night.