Mild Christmas weather on the way

Published 7:00 am Saturday, December 21, 2019

By Skip Rigney
Weather at Christmas can be just about anything here in south Mississippi. This year it’s likely to fall into the pleasant category.
Today a low pressure system moving across the northern Gulf will bring rain. On Sunday as the low moves into Florida a few scattered showers may linger in our area. By Monday, high pressure will be spreading across the Gulf South. The slowly sinking air associated with the system will keep us dry through at least Thursday.
High pressure in the upper atmosphere will also be reflected in slightly warmer-than-average temperatures down here at the surface. Temperatures on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will start in the 40s but are predicted to climb to near 70. The average daily range of past Christmases is about 40 degrees for the low and 60 for the high.
Unlike the summer months when actual temperatures are usually very close to the long-term average, in December the average is merely the spot approximately in the middle of some historically wild variations. Stick around for enough years and you’ll see it all. Well, almost.
For those who like to bundle up for Christmas, 1989 was your year. Frigid air from the Arctic brought Poplarville a low of 5 degrees on Christmas Eve and 6 degrees on Christmas Day. The high temperature on Christmas Eve was only 27, and on Christmas only 34. Let’s just say that as things began to thaw the day after Christmas, local plumbers were in high demand.
Even for those who don’t like it that cold, there are many of us who would enjoy at least one white Christmas. However, chances are you can celebrate every Christmas of a long life in Pearl River County and never see a snowy Noel.
But, it’s not impossible. Weather records show that a trace of snow was recorded in Picayune and Baton Rouge on Christmas 1953, although that probably wasn’t even enough for a dusting.
It’s ironic that New Orleans has seen more snow on Christmas Day than those of us in Pearl River County. In 2004 a low pressure system passing south of the Louisiana coast threw moisture just far enough north to give the Crescent City and other locations in southeast Louisiana about half an inch of snow on Christmas Day.
For those who prefer a more tropical feel to the holiday season, temperatures have climbed to between 75 and 81 degrees ten times in the last century, most recently in 2015 and 2016.
It seems to me that we could celebrate most appropriately if our temperatures were similar to those experienced in a small Judean town about 2000 years ago. However, the writers who recorded those events apparently thought there were more important aspects of the story to describe than the weather.
In fact, the weather is one of those gifts from above that, while we have become more adept at predicting it and moderating its effects, is perhaps best received by simply observing it in wonder, humbly offering thanks for it, and remembering that the One who oversees it became one of us and experienced cold and heat, rain and sunshine.
Happily, we can trust Him to see us through whatever weather may come our way.

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