When I visited Lake Lanier recently, it was actually pretty horrifying. The lake was almost the color of chocolate milk. There was debris everywhere. All I could picture was a bass boat speeding along and then smashing headlong into one of the huge tree trunks floating along, about three-quarters submerged. Tree trunks, tree limbs, and all kinds of shoreline debris were everywhere. Nearly 10 inches of rain for the month will certainly do that.
So far this season, as you may have already guessed, our winter has been very warm. By the time it’s all said and done, we might end up with one of the 15 warmest winters on record for north Georgia. We did not have an El Nino this year. El Nino is a cooling of the eastern or central Pacific Ocean. We did not have a La Nina, which is just the opposite. La Nina brings warm surface water to the eastern Pacific Ocean. Both can and do disrupt global wind patterns. El Nino usually results in colder than average temperatures and above average rainfall, or sometimes some robust snowstorms. La Nina on the other hand, generally brings drier than average conditions to Georgia. This year, we did not have either. Conditions are neutral and we have ended up with many more wet days than dry days, along with some unseasonably warm stretches.
The first day of spring is Friday, March 20. I am dreading it. It could be a rough go this spring. I also remember March 13, 1993. I came into my office on March 10. I began looking over the latest model guidance and could not believe what I was seeing. It was a neutral year, just like this year. The storm I was seeing on the models was unlike anything I had ever seen in winter. It was going to be like a hurricane in winter. Any and all modes of weather were going to happen and indeed they did.
Supercell thunderstorms, 11 massive tornadoes, and a 12-foot storm surge slammed the Florida Gulf Coast. Six inches of snow buried the Florida Panhandle. Dry Tortugas near the Bahamas recorded a 109 mile per hour wind gust. Winds in Myrtle Beach, SC were more than 90 miles per hour. Double digit snowfalls were measured from Alabama to Maine. Here in Atlanta, white-out conditions were recorded. Birmingham, Alabama had 17 inches of snow with six foot drifts. Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and Maryland set records for the deepest snow in history. 270 people were killed in 13 states and the damage was estimated at $5.5 billion in 1993 dollars. It was called SuperStorm ’93.
As we head into March, I know we’re going to see numerous tornado outbreaks in the South. You can be sure, I am also keeping a close watch on the Gulf of Mexico. Rainfall this winter has been too much for the ground to absorb. Hopefully, as trees and plants awaken from their winter slumber, they will help absorb some of this rainwater. I suspect we are going to have ongoing flood concerns this month.
I know we all want to get back out on the lake with the warming temperatures and get in on that spring bass bite. However, we are all going to have to be patient and extra diligent, as our weather will likely be in the extreme category this month. More flooding, more severe storms, and of course, watching intently at the Gulf of Mexico.
Stay safe everyone.