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15th month in a row of above-normal temperatures

April is winding down, and while the final results are not yet in, it looks like the month as a whole will be well above normal across the Southeast. This means that for every month from February 2016 on, we have been above the 1981-2010 normals in temperature.  At the same time, precipitation was above normal in many parts of the Southeast, although southern Alabama and Georgia and a good bit of Florida was drier than normal.

Here are some comments from my meteorologist husband John Knox on what we are seeing in Athens, GA:

Athens will end April 2017 a little over 5 degrees Fahrenheit above the 1981-2010 normals. This will be the 15th consecutive above-normal month in Athens, and only two early months of the 15 have been a close call:

Athens, GA Temperature Departures from 1981-2010 Normals:
Feb 2016: +0.4F above normal
Mar 2016: +5.6F above normal
Apr 2016: +1.7F above normal
May 2016: +0.3F above normal
June 2016: +3.2F above normal
July 2016: +3.4F above normal
Aug 2016: +2.4F above normal
Sept 2016: +4.4F above normal
Oct 2016: +4.8F above normal
Nov 2016: +3.0F above normal
Dec 2016: +1.7F above normal
Jan 2017: +8.0F above normal
Feb 2017: +7.9F above normal
Mar 2017: +2.5F above normal
Apr 2017: ~ +5F above normal (final results tomorrow)

April in Athens will be almost 3″ above normal in precipitation, as well. Because clouds block sunlight, it’s not too easy to have a significantly wetter-than-normal month that is also significantly warmer-than-normal. Back in December 2015 we had a phenomenal example with the huge El Nino, when Athens was a whopping 11F above normal and almost 4″ of rain wetter than normal too. But that El Nino is gone now. So, that’s not the explanation. January 2016 was -1.5F, i.e. below normal, in Athens, but that was the last month Athens was cooler than normal.

Meanwhile, global annual surface temperatures have been above the 20th-century average for 40 consecutive years, since 1977, with 2017 on track to become the 41st above-20th-century-average year in a row. 2016 was the warmest, breaking the record of 2015, which in turn broke the record set by 2014.

Cycles go up and down. But trends either go up, or they go down. And real-life trends usually have a little wiggle in them, because there’s no one thing driving the trend as in a simplified example. Those who want you to think that the data above is part of a cycle, not a trend, will zoom way in on those little wiggles and call them a “pause” and/or try to make you doubt the larger trend, blinding you to the truth that is so obviously in front of you–literally in your backyard.

* If your child ran a fever for 15 consecutive days, and it wasn’t coming down but seemed to be going up, you’d be at the ER. Right?

* If the temperature of your house was above the thermostat reading you’d used forever, and the temperature was getting warmer and warmer for 40 consecutive days, you’d have the HVAC folks at your house. Wouldn’t you?