As you were enjoying the last and best of everything Labor Day weekend has to offer, we were also preparing for a change of season (at least here in the ol’ weather office). As we’ve discussed the meteorological seasons differ from what most normal humans consider to be the seasons. Your summer ends in about 3 weeks, mine ended Friday. The Druids would agree with you as does the rest of the planet, but no one ever said weather folk play by the same rules…and see previous post regarding meteorological seasons.
So with that, let’s talk about what happens now that meteorologists are transitioning into fall.
The first thing that sort of jumps out, and something you’ve been noticing since the end of June, the daylight hours are shrinking…and the loss is accelerating. We’re losing about 2 1/2 minutes a day at this point in the calendar. We had 13 hours of daylight Saturday (ok 12 hours and 59 minutes for those that want to be picky) and we’ll fall to just 9 hours and 45 minutes of daylight on November 30th (last day of met fall). Can’t you just hear Vincent Price in the background, “Darkness falls across the land…” (google it kids…Thriller…which by the way I can do a decent impression of).
The loss of daylight (read solar energy) also leads us to the other 2 stats we’re talking about today. We’ve seen 90 degree weather this weekend, today and at least tomorrow too, but these kind of days will be increasingly rare. For today, 90 degrees is only 6 above the normal of 84 which in the big scheme of things is all that impressive. However as the daylight hours shrink our normal high is just 73 by the end of September, so now you’re talking almost 20 degrees above normal to get to 90, and that is saying something. By the way, our latest October 90° day is October 9, 1939 when the normal high is 70.
Frost will also enter our forecasts sooner rather than later, and wouldn’t a frost (or at least a Frosty) felt good Saturday at the football game! Meteorologically we define frost at 36 degrees (we’ll explain more on that when we get closer) and the earliest of those happened on September 23, 2012. That was almost a month ahead of the average which is October 16th. We have gone into November without a frost, with the lastest occurring on November 9th.
The other big deal thing that happens in fall is the peak of hurricane season. There’s a bit of a lag between the peak of summer and the peak of warmth in the tropical oceans. We’re in it now and nature’s natural mechanism for dispersing great amounts of heat is the hurricane. As we talked about last week, Gordon popped up in the Bahamas as a wave and is now a mid level tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s moving around the edge of the giant high that’s creating our heat. A hit somewhere between central Louisiana and the Florida panhandle is likely Tuesday night/Wednesday morning perhaps as a low end hurricane, but most likely a strong tropical storm.
However, Florence, which is already out in the Atlantic may pose a much bigger problem. The European operational model has been pretty consistent having Florence miss its opportunity to recurve (disperse heat) and instead travel along the southern periphery of the gigantic high that’s currently bringing our heat.
If it comes on this westward path, the southeast coast could…could…be in looking at a significant storm in 10 days. In 10 days a lot can change in the model and real world, but that big high is going to make the Atlantic Basin awfully interesting for a few weeks. You can also see 2 other potential storms…neither of these is named yet! Helene, which just is coming off Africa now could be in the Caribbean (again traveling around the bottom of the high). What would be Isaac is still just a tropical wave over Africa, but it’s a doozy at the moment.
So if you’re a fan of The Muggies, savor the next few days. If you like good crisp fall weather, just be patient, the seasons always change. As for the tropics, just buckle your seat belts boys and girls, this could be an interesting, although brief, ride.
All the best to you and yours…