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Warmer winter weather may continue

In what would normally be a colder year for the Mid-Ohio Valley based on patterns of weather associated with the solar cycle, new records for heat are in store this winter.

“At least for this weekend and into the first part of next week we’re expecting well above normal temperatures,” said National Weather Service Meteorologist Simone Lewis, of the Charleston. W.Va. office. “That’s across the valley you’ll be seeing mid-70s–even higher than the record set in Parkersburg on Jan. 11 in 2018 at 67.”

That temperate weather may continue through the winter months, she said, with no explicit indicators of extreme heat nor snow.

“Definitely not snow in the near future–though we have a system coming in next week that will be cooler it’s closer to this time of year’s normal temperatures with highs in the low 40s,” she said. “For the next month though, they are predicting to have above average temperatures and precipitation farther down the river near Portsmouth, while the Marietta/Parkersburg area there’s no signal above or below normal temperatures but that doesn’t mean temperatures will be normal.”

Then for the remaining weeks of winter, Lewis said, while no temperature indication is clear the forecasts is clearly wet.

“We are expecting an above average precipitation,” added the meteorologist. “Just no indication of how warm or cold it will be when that falls.”

The area typically sees 19.4 inches of snow each winter.

Tim Clark, editor of The Old Farmer’s Almanac, said Friday that their annual projection also sees similar trends possible for winter in the Valley.

“And it has been getting warmer each winter–that’s been the trend,” he said. “For the whole winter we’ve predicted slightly above normal temperatures and precipitation… snowiest possibility in the east in March and then a very wet spring.”

Clark said January in the valley was predicted to average five degrees higher than expected.

“Now we don’t use the National Weather Service to predict because we’re printing too far ahead of their forecast but we do retain an 80 percent accuracy,” said Clark, noting the prediction mechanism for well over 100 years has been through tracking the solar cycle and sunspot prevalence, ocean currents and historical data.

According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the solar cycle is the cycle that the Sun’s magnetic field goes through approximately every 11 years.

Clark explained that what astronomers and solar physicists observe as sun “spots” are actually magnetic storms occurring on the star.

“The theory is that if you find a year (in history) that was in approximately the same part of the solar cycle, and combine that year’s averages with what’s going on in the ocean currents where we get most of our weather coming in from, you can predict what this year’s patterns may look like,” said Clark. “What’s surprising in the last couple of years is really low sunspots which would normally mean lower temperatures but things have changed.”

Clark said the publication hasn’t taken a political stance per se on climate change, but accepted that many naysayers point to the almanac’s use of sunspot observance as reference for cycles of warmer and cooler years.

“But if what’s happening on the sun is suggesting a cooler year, then we’re having warmer years–something is changing on Earth,” he said.

Clark also noted while some physicists argue the star is too far away to impact weather patterns on Earth, he “respectfully disagrees.”

“Weather is what happens today, climate is what happens this year, next year and the next decade,” he said.

Janelle Patterson can be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.

Winter forecast:

• Jan. 11-14: Rain to snow, then flurries, cold.

• Jan 15-17: Sunny, mild.

• Jan 18-22: Snow, then rainy periods, turning warm.

• Jan 23-29: Periods of rain and snow, mild.

• Jan 30-31: Snow showers, cold.

* January average predicted temperature: 38 degrees (5 degrees above avg.)

* January predicted precipitation 4.5 inches (1.5 inches above avg.)

• Feb. 1-3: Snow showers, very cold.

• Feb. 4-7: Rain and snow, then sunny, cold.

• Feb. 8-1: Rainy, quite mild.

• Feb. 12-16: Flurries, then rainy, mild.

• Feb. 17-21: Snow, then flurries, cold.

• Feb. 22-26: Snow showers, very cold.

• Feb. 27-29: Rainy, mild.

*February predicted precipitation 3.5 inches (2 inches above avg. in northern Ohio Valley, 1 inch below in south).

Source: The Old Farmer’s Almanac.

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