Ol’ man winter skipped January

If you’ve been under the impression that it’s been an unusually warm winter, you’re right.

Despite a recent cold snap — one that’s already come and gone — this has been a mild winter, even by Southwest Georgia standards. There have only been a handful of nights or so when the mercury has dipped into the 20s.

In fact, earlier this month the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration rated January 2012 as the fourth-warmest January on record for the 48 continguous states. One weather service, Accuweather, cited the jet stream as the culprit for the unseasonably warm month, noting that its primary pattern has been west to east. The jet stream would need to reach up into the Arctic area and dip down into the States to bring chilling temperatures south.

January wasn’t an isolated incident. Accuweather officials say the six-month period that ended last month has been the fifth-warmest ever for the contiguous states, with 40 of the 48 states recording warmer than average temperatures.

Alaska, however, has seen an opposite trend. With no warm air rising with the jet stream, our northernmost state is enduring some record lows this winter.

While we have to admit we miss the chill in the air, especially around the holidays, there’s something to be said about grilling out in mid-February in a pair of shorts. Golf, anyone?