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Submitted by Tim Buckley on Mon, 09/20/2010 - 8:30am.
If you hadn't forced yourself to look at a calendar recently, you might mistake our weather recently for just another month of summer. It's been dry as a bone, and temperatures have routinely been flirting with the ninety degree mark all month long. Fall just isn't wanting to take hold, and that's a trend that looks to continue into the forecast.
So why have we been so hot and dry? It has to due in large part to the pattern we're in, which is keeping large areas of high pressure in place along the East Coast. This is good news for outdoor activities and those who want to fit in some late-season beach time. The problem is, this high pressure also isn't allowing for a lick of rain to move into our area either.
Areas of high pressure encourage large areas of sinking motion in the atmosphere. When air sinks, it contracts, warms, and discourages precipitation. To get rain, you need some element of rising motion in the atmosphere which allows for expansion, cooling, and eventually condensation to take place. This just can't happen with the High pressure zones we've seen and will continue to see this week. But how dry has it been? The numbers are impressive.
In the first three weeks of September, we've only seen a measely 0.18" of rain. The majority of that came over a two day period on the 11th and 12th when a weak front moved through the area. We're already over 4" dry for the month and are now approaching 15" in our rainfall deficit for the year so far. In other words, it's no coincidence that your lawns are brown.
The image below shows how dry the state has been: (Click on the picture for a larger version)
Nearly all of the state (91.9%) is deemed 'abnormally dry' at this point - which you can compare to only 70% of the state a week ago. In our area, many counties are in a 'moderate drought' zone, as well as 28.7% of North Carolina. Expect this number to rise greatly by this time next week, as the ridge of high pressure overhead will extend our dry spell by several days.
In fact, our forecast is pretty bleak in the short-term. Sunshine will extend through the weekend, when a small chance of some rain will enter the picture. Not only will it remain dry, it will also remain very warm. Highs will stay in the upper 80's to near 90 most days, as has been the trend through September.
In case you were curious, our average high now is 83 - not that Mother Nature seems to care much.
One thing that can be quite the drought-buster here in the fall season is a Tropical System moving through the area. In fact, most fall droughts in the Southeast are based on a lack of tropical storms making landfall in the US. But talk about a double-edged sword.
The last thing we want to wish for is for a hurricane to make landfall in the region. But, several inches of precipitation over a few days is just what the doctor ordered. Perhaps we can root for are the remnants of a storm to pass over our area and deliver a good soaking. This would give us the rain we need without the damage and wind of a full-blown landfall.
That's all for now. Enjoy the pleasant weather!
By: Tim Buckley