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Unsettled weather follows brief cool spell

By Skip Rigney

The cool front earlier this week was something of a disappointment. However, a stronger front moved through on Friday evening making Saturday the coolest day we’ve seen since May.

However, the dry, cool air won’t stick around long. The front is stalling just to our south and east. By Sunday it will begin creeping back as a warm front. The proximity of the front along with weak disturbances passing above us in the upper atmosphere will keep our weather unsettled for the next several days with a chance of additional showers.

Showers broke out ahead of the front as it approached on Friday. The rain was much needed, because earlier in the week the analysis from the U.S. Drought Monitor showed abnormally dry conditions continuing across most of Mississippi and the southeastern United States. Even if the rain on Friday was not enough to end the state-wide burn ban issued by Governor Bryant on October 2, hopefully showers during the coming week’s unsettled pattern will provide enough moisture for the ban to be lifted. Updates are available from the Mississippi Forestry Commission online at www.mfc.ms.gov/burn-bans.

Although no particular month is ever exactly “typical” or “average,” here are some statistics from past Octobers that provide a perspective on what is likely and possible as we approach the middle of the month.

October is a month of transition. The daily average low temperature in Picayune is 61 degrees for October 1 and 50 degrees for October 31. That is the largest change in average low temperature from the beginning to the end of any month in the year.

Although October brings a cool change after a long southern summer, it can still get hot in October. The record high temperature for each day in October in Poplarville is 90 degrees or higher. The all-time monthly record of 97 degrees occurred most recently on the afternoon of October 3rd this year. The mercury also reached that level on October 1, 1923, and October 25, 1921.

It can also get quite cold in October. Early season freezes have been recorded eight times in October at the Poplarville weather station since 1896. The record lows for the month of October in Poplarville are also the earliest freezes on record, 28 degrees on October 20 and 21, 1989.

October is typically the driest month of the year in Pearl River County. In fact, October is the only month on record in Poplarville during which no rain has fallen during the entire month. Those dusty Octobers occurred in 1952, 1953, 1978, and 2005. Average October rainfall is about four inches.

Although hurricane season is waning, it’s still possible for tropical systems in the Gulf to affect our area. Our fall severe thunderstorm season usually begins in the latter part of October and continues into November and December. The National Weather Service’s database shows that damage from severe thunderstorm straight line winds or tornadoes has occurred in Pearl River or adjacent counties during nine of the last 19 Octobers. The most impactful was early on the morning of October 29, 2002, when severe thunderstorms rolled across southern Pearl River Country knocking down trees and damaging over one hundred buildings.