COLUMBIA — Not since 1963 has winter's chill been delayed for so long.
Thursday marked the 228th — and probably last — consecutive day with a high temperature of 50 or above, which was only the fourth stretch of time in Columbia's history that hit that mark, according to the National Weather Service. The record was set in 1963 when the city enjoyed 244 consecutive days of the pleasant weather.
Here are the top 10 years since 1889 for consecutive days with temperatures of 50 degrees or higher at Columbia and when those records ended.
1. 244 — Nov. 12, 1963
2. 237 — Nov. 10, 1946
3. 235 — Nov. 15, 1897
4. 228 — Nov. 4, 2010
5. 226 — Nov. 15, 1902
6. 225 — Nov. 17, 1958
7. 225 — Nov. 13, 1915
8. 222 — Nov. 16, 1964
9. 221 — Nov. 7, 1922
10. 220 — Nov. 11, 1977
Source: National Weather Service
For 2010, it appears the end of the stretch is near. The forecast for Friday calls for highs in the upper 40s. Additionally, state climatologist Patrick Guinan said Saturday could bring a record low for the season, with a forecast of 24 degrees for the early morning hours.
"But we should be rebounding nicely this weekend," Guinan said. "The jet stream is coming straight out of Canada and will lead to a couple of chilly days, but it's a short-lived dry spell. By Sunday, high temperatures will be in the middle 60s."
This fall's mild temperatures were matched by unseasonably clear skies as well. October 2010 was the driest on record since 1964.
Mark Britt, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service said the recent climate is a result of a perfect storm of two separate factors: relatively few cold fronts from Canada in the Midwest and a strengthening La Niña in the Pacific Ocean.
La Niña surfaces every two to five years in the continental United States and was last seen in the 2007-08 winter. The phenomenon is characterized by warmer than normal temperatures in the South and cooler weather in the Pacific Northwest. This is the exact opposite of last year's El Niño, which influenced the cooler weather in the Southern states.
"The winter outlook shows that chances are that we will continue to see warmer temperatures from December through February," Britt said, talking about this year. "La Niña will have more of an effect as we go into winter."
Guinan said that though this winter's median temperature will likely be higher than average, the forecast isn't completely sunny.
"We're expecting to see above-average precipitation this month and through December, January and February," he said. "This can be in the form of snow, hail, or liquid ... rain."