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Submitted by Tim Buckley on Fri, 10/19/2012 - 9:53am.
"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." - Ferris Bueller
Ah, Ferris Bueller - so wise! It's this time of year when the calendar seems to be flying by the fastest. Maybe it's the drop in temperature, the falling leaves, or the schedule so jam packed with fall festivals. I don't know. Either way, fall always flies by - and this one is going fast! Our weather is WAY different than what it was even a few weeks ago. Let's check it out.
"Cold, meet warm. Warm, meet cold."
A lot of times people think of fall as this stand alone season that has its own brand of weather, but it's really a schizophrenic transition between summer and winter where you can find any kind of weather you want. There is a reason for that!
Mother Nature is trying to adjust to getting less and less energy from the sun, as it continues it's annual retreat to the summer hemisphere. Days begin to get shorter, and temperatures start to drop quite a bit, especially up towards the north pole. But while cold air is starting to gather to the north, we still have plenty of warmth to the south - not just in the air, but especially in the warm oceans that have been accumulating heat all summer. The result is a strong, and active Jet Stream that controls the movement of air masses throughout this chaotic season.
As cold air makes its first dives to the south into the US, it meets up with warm-air and again creates big time storms that we often see in the spring. We've had a few outbreaks of severe weather just in the last week across the Southeast. Fall is often called the "second season" for severe weather, and we'll likely see more outbreaks before we reach December. You've been warned!
While the Jet Stream has been dipping in the East, chilly air has been able to slip in very easily. Heading into late next week though, it will start to flip flop back in the other direction. This is one of those expected swings where the cries of, "Why can't the weather make up it's mind?!" will grow much louder. Alas, we need to expect this to happen in fall and not be surprised by it.
New Normals / Shorter Days
One of the trickiest parts about forecasting during the fall is actually knowing where you are in the season. "Watch those normals!" a wise mentor of mine used to say, meaning the average highs and lows drop off a whole lot quicker than you think they do - which can usually lead to a temperature forecast that's a bit too bullish.
Right now, we're looking at average highs in the mid 70's. This is quickly changing though. By November 8th, our average high drops below 70 degrees. From there it takes just 16 days to get to an average high of 65.
In that same time, the days are getting shorter more quickly. Daylight saving time comes to an end the first week of November, and before you know it - that sun will be setting just as you're heading out of the office. (I know, I hate it too)
Tropics Last Stand?
Of course it's been wonderfully quiet in the tropics for more than a month now, but I'm a little worried that over the next 10 days or so things will start to bubble up once more. This could get a bit interesting.
Here's an image of predicted sea-level pressure from the European Computer Model, one of the best performing models out there. The reddish colors show low pressure. Now this may not look like much, but this solution shows a very distinct low developing just south of Cuba late next week.
On its own, I wouldn't be concerned by a prediction like this about 6 days out. Models frequently flip flop back and forth and aren't reliable for such things. But, this has been a consistent trend both with the EURO model and the GFS (American) model for several days.
This trend makes sense for other reasons as well. A large ridge of high pressure will be building into the eastern US giving us great weather. This is a perfect setup to make tropical storms since you're creating relatively lower pressures to the south, which encourages even more rising air.
Bottom line, I've got my eye on Monday - Wednesday for some sort of tropical critter to be forming down in the Caribbean. Where it goes, nobody knows - but you can't rule out the US just because it's October!
Hope you have a great weekend out there with this perfect fall weather that's moving in. I'll be enjoying the Oktoberfest of Wilmington over at the Government Center. Hope to see you there! Prost!
By: Tim Buckley