by Tom Ross, Meteorologist
We’ve had a little bit of everything this summer: times of drought to start June off, followed by a few wet periods in July and August. However, I think one of the standouts of the summer was the warmth, which was even more noticeable this year in looking at the nighttime lows. Our elevation usually helps us cool down several degrees lower than areas in the foothills, but the higher-than-usual amount of moisture in the air at times this summer helped to offset this. We did not enjoy as many comfortably cool nights as we usually do. One indicator of that comfort level is the number of times the nighttime low was 70°F or higher during the summer (June-August) period.
In looking at the records, the airport had nine days at or above 70°F for nighttime lows. A number of evenings were quite uncomfortable due to the higher temperatures and dew points, and it felt like we were in the foothills or Piedmont rather than the mountains. In contrast, we had 18 days with a high temperature of 90°F or better over the summer. The most ever 90°F days or higher occurred in 1952, with 32 days.
In terms of rainfall, we caught up a bit due to a wet August, but September should come in drier than normal, and historically October is one of our drier months, with generally about 3.5–4.0 inches of rainfall in Fairview.
On a final note, we will be going through the annual fall colors here in the mountains over the next 4-6 weeks. In some years, our mountains look like a patchwork quilt of glorious color, and other years not so much. Looking at the map below, you can see the estimated dates of peak fall colors across western North Carolina. The map takes into account changes in elevation and latitude, and was developed by The Department of Biology at Appalachian State University; visit the website at biology.appstate.edu/fall-color-report/fall-color-map-north-carolina.
Meteorologist Tom Ross managed NOAA’s Climate Database Modernization Program during his 25-year career at the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) in Asheville.