An Unseasonably Warm January for Western Carolinas
and Extreme Northeast Georgia
NOAA/National Weather Service
January 2006 was the second warmest January at the Greenville-Spartanburg
International Airport (GSP) and the warmest in 32 years, since record keeping
began in October 1962. The average temperature for January 2006 was 48.5 F,
which was 7.5 F above the normal average. The warmest January was 51.4 F,
set in 1974.
Asheville and Charlotte, North Carolina also experienced a warmer than normal
January. The average temperature at the Asheville Regional Airport for
January 2006 was 43.2 F which was 4.2 F above normal. A record high
temperature of 68 F on January 9. January 2006 was also the warmest January
in 32 years.
The average temperature at Charlotte Douglas International was 47.0 F. Even
though, this was only the 15th warmest January for Charlotte since records
began in 1878, it was 6 F above normal.
The unseasonably warm January comes after a cooler than average December 2005
for these three sites. Greenville-Spartanburg was only a half degree below
normal during December while Charlotte and Asheville were 2.9 F and 2.5 F
below normal, respectively.
Figure 1 shows the departure from normal of average temperatures across the
contiguous United States for January 2006. Most of the country experienced
above normal temperatures for the month of January. The eastern two-thirds
of the United States was generally 5 to 15 F above normal and a large portion
of the north central United States was 15 to 25 F for January. The County
Warning Area of the Greenville-Spartanburg National Weather Service Office
was almost entirely in the 5 to 10 F above normal range.
The mid-level (500 millibar) height pattern, shown in Fig. 2, was one of the
main reasons for the abnormally warm January. The region of warmest departure
from normal temperatures corresponded to the mean mid-level atmospheric pattern,
mainly between the mid-level ridge over the western United States and the
mid-level trough over the eastern United States. The region between a
mid-level trough and mid-level ridge usually indicates an area of surface
high pressure, in this case, centered northwest of the Great Lakes region.
The surface high pressure coincided with the warmer than normal temperatures.
The effect of the high pressure was much weaker in the western Carolinas and
extreme northeast Georgia. As a result, the departures from normal were not
as significant as in the north central Plains states.
The mean temperature outlook from March through May of 2006, shown in Fig. 3,
do not suggest significant warming or cooling for the western Carolinas and
extreme northeast Georgia. There are equal chances for average temperatures
that are above, below or near normal. Greater probabilities for warmer than
normal temperatures exist further to the west, mainly in the southwestern
Figure 1: Departure from Normal Temperature (F), January 1-31, 2006. The County Warning Area for the Greenville-Spartanburg office is encompassed by the thin white line. Graphic from NOAA/National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center (CPC).
Figure 2: 500 Millibar Heights and Anomalies (in meters) for January 2006. The
thin white lines represent the monthly averaged height contours. Graphic from
NOAA/National Weather Service National Centers for Environmental Prediction
Figure 3: Seasonal temperature outlook for the months of March, April and May 2006. The graphic represents a forecast of the probability (percentage) of an anomaly of the mean temperature falling into one of three categories: above normal, near normal, or below normal. Graphic from NOAA/National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center (CPC)