Southeast Georgia had a fairly average go of it during November, but the rest of the world was a bit toasty. According to the monthly climate update from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, it was a hot one.
“It was tied with 2004 and 2016 as the fifth-warmest November on record,” said Deke Arndt, climate scientist and chief of the Climate Monitoring Branch of the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information. “That’s a record that dates back 139 years. This was largely driven by a warm ocean. The oceans themselves (had) the second-warmest November, at about 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th Century average. Land areas were about 1.5 degrees above average, but because land temperatures can swing much more from year to year, that’s actually a little less unusually warm than the oceans. That’s the 16th-warmest November for land areas.
“Overall, for the globe, this was the 42nd consecutive November that was warmer than the 20th Century average, and the 407th consecutive months overall that was warmer than the 20th Century average.
“Looking a little more broadly at the season — September, October, November, which is what we call autumn up here in the Northern Hemisphere, and what they call spring in the Southern Hemisphere — that season was the second-warmest on record, at one point 4.4 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the 20th Century average.”
Arndt said that their projections indicate it’s a virtual certainty that the year will be the fourth-warmest on record, globally.
Nationwide, for autumn temperatures were close to average, but “much above” normal for the coast of the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast, with record high temperatures in isolated parts of Florida, Delaware and Maryland.
It was the wettest autumn on record for places in Texas and from North Carolina up to New England. The Mid-Atlantic, as a region recorded its wettest autumn on record, beating out 2011, 2006, 2003 and 1979. However, it was fairly average along the Georgia coast, and drier south down the Florida peninsula.
Looking ahead, prepare for rain.
“El Niño does have a 90 percent, or greater, chance of developing,” said Brad Pugh, a seasonal forecaster at the NOAA Climate Prediction Center. “We are expecting it to develop and continue through the Northern Hemisphere spring. As you look well ahead in the future, to next summer, odds for El Niño decrease, but they remain the favored outcome.”
The warmth of sea surface temperatures around the equator in the eastern Pacific Ocean currently are typical indicator of El Niño formation. What that means for Brunswick and the Golden Isles is higher-than-normal rain.
The forecast for January indicates cooler than normal temperatures across most of the South, but missing Southeast Georgia. Higher-than-normal precipitation is likely, however, for Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and parts of South Carolina, Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. Southeast Georgia has a significant chance of higher precipitation through March.
Few ever forget their first time feeling a beach breeze, smelling marsh mud or holding a sea creature.
These are experiences that exist in the backyards of students growing up in the Golden Isles. Yet many will not have these educational opportunities.
One Hundred Miles, an environmental nonprofit, hopes to change that and plans to offer new education programs for students in 2019.
The nonprofit recently hired two new education coordinators, including Stephanie Chewning, who came onboard in August as the nonprofit’s coastal education coordinator and will be based out the Brunswick office.
Chewning, who has more than a decade’s worth of experience as an environmental educator, said she’s taken hundreds of students to the beach for the first time.
“Those experiences, they remember the rest of their lives,” she said. “Having a kid touch the marsh mud, put it on their face, smell it, get that sensory overload. They don’t forget that.”
The new educator coordinators have allowed One Hundred Miles to expand its education programs, said Catherine Ridley, vice president of education and communications for One Hundred Miles.
Young people have a lot to contribute to the conversation, she said, so One Hundred Miles wants to provide them with the opportunities to learn and become local leaders.
The nonprofit plans to launch a Junior Naturalist program in 2019 that will be geared toward elementary school students. The program will provide hands-on education opportunities for students.
“Young people have a voice too,” Ridley said. “I think we’ve seen that all around the country in the last couple of years, how active students of all ages can be and how much they have to contribute to this dialogue.”
One Hundred Miles also plans to launch a program for high school students next year called the “Youth Environmental Leaders Program,” or YELP, to help students become environmental activists and community leaders.
“That is designed to help motivated students who are conservation-minded and want to make a difference here in their community and learn about our coast,” Ridley said.
One Hundred Miles will select a team of students from both Brunswick and Savannah.
“It will be an application process where they are selected to come together with students of different backgrounds and different interests, to develop their leadership skills for the coast,” Ridley said.
Students will participate in monthly field programs and will be paired with mentors in the fields they discuss. They’ll also have a chance to develop their own service learning projects.
“We’ll also help participants connect with elected representatives, understand the legislative process and learn how to advocate for causes they believe,” Ridley said. “We’re excited to bring together a diverse group of conservation-minded students who are leaders in their communities and grow up to be active stewards of the natural world.”
The application will open in April and students will begin the program in the fall.
“The goal is to really encourage students who want to make a difference in conservation,” Ridley said.
One Hundred Miles intends to increase education opportunities for adult learners as well next year and will expand in 2019 its Naturalist 101 and Nature and the Arts programs.
“We’re expanding both of those programs so that we’ll have year-round programming here in the Brunswick office,” Ridley said.
Naturalist 101 offers educational programs designed to teach coastal residents about Georgia’s coastal habitats and wildlife through hands-on activities and lectures.
Nature and the Arts is a program through which One Hundred Miles partners with local artists who help participants explore nature through artistic mediums.
“Both of those initiatives are geared at getting primarily adult but also family audiences and are engaged in increasing their knowledge about coastal issues and the ways that they can get involved,” Ridley said.
Naturalist 101 will return in February with a history- focused program.
“We’re having the manager for Fort King George come and talk about the importance of that fort and why it was there and its connection to Darien as a town,” Chewning said.
The lectures will be free, but One Hundred Miles staff ask for attendees to RSVP beforehand.
“One of the good problems that we’re having, honestly, is that we’re outgrowing this space,” Ridley said. “That’s a great problem to have.”
Nature and the Arts will kick off in Brunswick in February with a sweetgrass basket weaving lesson.
Those interested in signing up for the programs can learn more at onehundredmiles.org.
“This is all really geared towards building your encyclopedia of knowledge about our coast, and it all fits together in different ways — whether it’s coastal history or culture,” Ridley said.
“All of those things are affected by the issues that we’re talking about, whether it’s climate and sea level rise or offshore drilling. That’s all intertwined.”
Glynn County is taking applications for its Citizens’ Academy program from anyone who wants to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes of local government.
It will take the form of an eight-week civics course, said county spokesman Matthew Kent, who will be in charge of the program. Each class will cover one of the county government’s departments, what it does and how their work impacts county residents.
Each class will cover a different aspect of county government, such as public works, the fire department, planning and zoning, building inspection, the local court systems and law enforcement, among others.
“There are a lot of things the county government does that most people don’t know that we do,” Kent said.
Informed citizens help the county as well, he said. Someone who understands what’s going on behind the scenes is better able to give relevant feedback to county officials and staff. Having informed people on boards and committees is helpful to county staff as well, Kent said.
The content of each class is expected to include videos, speakers, exercises and tours of county facilities. Active participation in the form of questions and suggestions is encouraged, Kent said.
Tentatively, the first class is set for Feb. 7 at 5 p.m. in the Old Glynn County Courthouse. Classes will meet weekly for eight weeks, usually after 5 p.m., and last for around two to three hours.
Some restrictions were placed on entry to the program. Participants must be a county resident or business owner or a student in either Glynn County Schools or the College of Coastal Georgia. The minimum age requirement is 18, but high school students can sign up through their school.
Participants will be expected to follow a code of conduct, which includes attending a minimum number of classes. Missing more than two classes is not only grounds for elimination from the program, but effectively a ban from participating in future citizens’ academies.
Filling out an application is mandatory and considered one of the requirements for being considered for the class, Kent said.
For more information or to apply for the program, visit glynncounty.org/1968/Citizens-Academy or call Kent at 912-554-7409. Applications must be submitted by Jan. 11.