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UGA Expert on Winter Weather in Athens

Photo courtesy Nancy Evelyn

This is the official first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere according to almanac.com. It’s the winter solstice and the shortest day of the year, or the day with the fewest hours of sunlight.  According to Dr. Marshall Shepherd, Director of the Atmospheric Sciences Program at the University of Georgia and the Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor of Geography and Atmospheric Sciences, this winter in Athens may look a lot like last year’s.

“We’re in what’s called a double dip La Niña, we had a La Niña last year in 2020, it subsided and it came back in 2021,” according to Shepherd. “So a La Niña is when we cave cooler than normal conditions in the eastern Pacific Ocean and it’s sort of the little sister to the El Niño pattern.”

Shepherd says that double dip La Niña means we can expect to have a warmer than unusual winter this year.

“Typically for the southeast, particularly Georgia during La Niña, we can expect mild conditions, relatively warm conditions. That’s not something snow lovers want to hear, but that doesn’t mean we won’t get a day that’s cold or a day that’s snowy, but just on average, can be milder.”

So we can expect a fairly warm holiday.

“We can have some severe weather more frequently in the winter time than we normally would, but if we look at December of 2021, there’s a pattern setting up through Christmas that looks relatively warm and that’s certainly something that would be consistent with what I would expect in La Niña.”

While today is the astronomical start to winter, the meteorological start was December 1st.


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