Warm December is latest in a wild year for weather

Published 12:05 am Thursday, December 17, 2015

First, mother nature brought drought. Then, a fall deluge soaked Rowan. Now, it seems to be spring.

Temperatures are pleasant, grass is green and flowers are blooming. With half of the month complete, N.C. Climate Office data for the Rowan County Airport shows December 2015’s average temperatures as higher than the previous five years. National Weather Service Meteorologist Jeffrey Taylor said December temperature data for Charlotte — the closest location available — is about 9 degrees above historical averages.

Taylor said weather in the Charlotte region is likely to cool off into the weekend and warm up again next week. The National Weather Service doesn’t forecast weather far enough ahead to guess whether there will be snow on Christmas. With recent and historical weather patterns, however, Taylor said it’s unlikely flakes will fall.

“It’s very rare for most of our area, except some of the mountains, to have snow on Christmas,” Taylor said.

It’s nearly guaranteed snow won’t come in time for China Grove’s Christmas in the Grove event, so organizers plan to coat a hill in town with fake snow.

If warm December temperatures continue, it’s likely December will be the latest of the previous several months to top historical averages. For example, November was 3.8 degrees above normal, October was 0.1 degrees above normal and September was 2.2 degrees above normal, according to the National Weather Service.

December’s warm weather is the latest in a wild year.

Many local row-crop farmers saw significantly decreased corn and soybean yields. Drought or abnormally dry conditions lasted for most of the summer. Then, rain during fall months nearly topped precipitation records.

Dallas Goodnight, who works at LL Goodnight and Sons in South Rowan, half jokingly said he’ll make a trip to the beach if temperatures stay warm after Christmas. Because of the summer drought, the store now purchases its hay from Kansas. That hay is more expensive, but it’s also the only option. Locals largely don’t have any hay to sell.

Goodnight said he usually plants pumpkins every year, but in 2015 mother nature didn’t bring enough rain.

Because of fall rain and warm December weather, he said, some types of grass are actually growing. Rowan County Extension Director Amy-Lynn Albertson said daffodils are beginning to sprout and some roses are blooming.

“We’ve really had a roller coaster of temperatures,” Albertson said. “Plants haven’t had enough chilling hours for them to go dormant.”

If temperatures drop rapidly in the coming days, Alberston said some plants might die completely rather than going dormant.

“It’s been a really rough year and incredibly hard to be a person who grows plants in 2015 if you did not have irrigation,” she said.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.