by Tom Ross, Meteorologist
Last month we took a look at the mean number of days the afternoon high temperature reaches or exceeds 90 degrees F. It seems like that was quite providential since we have already exceeded our average number of seven days this year by early July. Hopefully, we won’t exceed that number multiple times, as we did in 1952 when we had 32 days at or above 90 degrees F during the summer months.
One of the things that stands out this summer for most of us is that many areas across Fairview developed the “crunchy lawn syndrome.” The combination of hot temperatures with below average rainfall hasn’t helped to keep most lawns and gardens green. In fact, in June we received a scant 2 to 3 inches of rainfall across the region, with some spots only seeing an inch and a half of rainfall.
I am afraid the situation hasn’t changed greatly from last month’s report, and the trend may continue to favor dry and hot conditions for the remainder of the summer. However, there seems to be a bit more scattered thunderstorm activity across the region in July, and hopefully our final total rainfall for July and then in August will be higher than what we received in June. If it doesn’t, look for brownouts to continue, and I’m not talking about power shortages!
Moving on a bit, let’s take a look at the hurricane season of 2016. We have already had several storms this year, and it could turn active especially in later summer. However, in contrast, as of July 4, 2016, it has been a full two years since the U.S. Gulf or Atlantic coast has sustained a direct hit from a hurricane. The last hit was Arthur on July 4, 2014, and that was just a glancing blow to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. As of now, things in the Atlantic are fairly quiet. Earlier this year, rains and some localized flooding occurred across parts of the coastal Carolinas in June from tropical storms/depressions Bonnie and Colin.
However, the important thing to remember with hurricanes is that it’s not very important to predict the number of named storms in advance each year. The whole story with hurricanes is location, location, location. Where are they going to strike? All it takes in one category 3 hurricane to strike a populated area along our eastern seaboard and we have a multi-billion dollar disaster on our hands. Since the U.S. coastline is in a favored path of these storms each year, it is only a question of time that a major hurricane will strike the coast again.
Meteorologist Tom Ross managed NOAA’s Climate Database Modernization Program during his 25-year career at the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) in Asheville. He was a senior weather forecaster at Accu Weather in Pennsylvania. Tom teaches classes on weather and climate at various local venues.