2015 wetter than average for local area

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Last year was wetter than average in Pearl River County, and it looks like that trend will continue the first few months of 2016.
“Normal,” or average, rainfall is approximately 60-65 inches per year throughout the county.
The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network (www.cocorahs.org) has three observing stations in southern Pearl River County that kept very complete rainfall records during 2015. The 2015 totals at all three stations were higher than average:
The station 5.6 miles east-northeast of Picayune recorded 74.09 inches.
The station 3.2 miles south-southwest of Carriere recorded 67.35 inches and the station 5.9 miles north of Carriere recorded 73.53 inches.
These above-average totals were achieved despite the fact that the county experienced drought conditions in September and October. That deficit was offset by a wet spring, early summer, November and December.
Of course, no year is exactly “normal.” Rainfall will be above normal in about half of all years, and below average in the other half.
It certainly is not unusual for us to have an annual total five-to-10-inches above the average, as we did in 2015.
Looking at the precipitation records for Poplarville, which go back almost 100 years, we see that in truly extreme years we can get over 80 inches of rain (1928, 1947, 1961, which had a whopping 97 inches, 2002, and 2012), or less than 40 inches (1924, 1954, 2000).
Long-range forecasters expect our above-average precipitation trend to continue over the first few months of 2016.
The three-month outlook for January, February and March was issued last week for the entire U.S. by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC).
CPC scientists think that the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida is more likely to have above normal rainfall for those three months than we are to have near normal or below normal precipitation. In terms of temperatures, CPC expects it to be a cooler than average in the same region.
Both those outlooks are typical for winters when a strong El Nino is going on in the Pacific Ocean. The current El Nino began last summer and is expected to persist for at least another couple of months.
Most of this week’s rain appears likely to fall on Wednesday night and Thursday as a warm front lifts north out of the Gulf of Mexico.
As the warm front approaches, high temperatures will climb to around 60 degrees tomorrow and Thursday and then surge to around 70 degrees on Friday and Saturday.
Rain chances increase for Saturday as another cold front approaches.
Once the cold front passes through this weekend, we can expect the cold air behind it to hang around for a while. While next week is too far out for forecasters to have much confidence in specific numbers, multiple numerical computer weather models are indicating that the coldest air so far this winter is on tap for us sometime next week.

By Skip Rigney

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