Fall preview was cool, but summer returns

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Our second significant cool front of the early fall season swept by us this past Saturday. Ahead of the front on Thursday and Friday, much of the county saw several periods of rain. Totals over the two days were heavier in the southern portion of the county, adding up to between one and two inches in many areas.

Behind the front, dry, cool air began to filter in from the north. By Sunday morning, skies were clear and temperatures had dropped into the low to mid 50s, giving us our coolest morning since early May. The remainder of Sunday was a spectacular early fall day with brilliant blue skies, a mild northerly breeze, and high temperatures around 80 degrees.

Monday started off just as cool as Sunday in most spots. Temperatures were a little warmer Monday afternoon than Sunday, but still, very pleasant weather with sunny skies and low humidities.

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Autumn seems to be getting a running start this year. With our first noticeable cool frontal passage on August 25th, and another this past weekend, we’ve had two cool fronts before September 15th. Some years we have to wait until the end of September or even early October to have our first two tastes of fall.

Of course, autumn cool air along the Gulf Coast doesn’t arrive and stay until winter. Instead, especially in the early part of the season, it pops in, stays a few days, and then gradually disappears. Next thing you know, it feels like summer again.

That’s what happened with the cool and dry air mass at the end of August, and the same will be true of the air mass that arrived this past weekend. Already the big surface high pressure system whose eastern-side winds blew in the cool air from the north while it was centered over Iowa on Saturday has moved to the mid-Atlantic states.

That now places us on the southern edge of the high. With the winds circulating clockwise around the high, our surface winds will be mainly from the east, allowing warmer, muggier air from the Atlantic and the Gulf to make its return. With no fronts approaching, this ridge of high pressure will be the major system influencing our weather the rest of the week.

Typically, mid-September is the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. Fortunately, the 2015 season remains unusually quiet for us here on the northern Gulf Coast. A weak disturbance in the southwest Gulf this week isn’t expected to bother us.

All of this means we can expect many hours of sunshine each day, a few clouds from time to time, and temperatures ranging from near 70 in the morning to the upper 80s in the afternoon. That’s about normal for this time in September. There’s only about a 20% chance that you will find yourself in an isolated afternoon shower, which means you have an 80% chance of getting no rain.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Our short-term autumn visitor has left town. Summer, albeit a slightly milder version, is back.

By Skip Rigney