First nineties of the year arrive early

Published 1:56 pm Saturday, May 7, 2022

By Skip Rigney

There is nothing magical about reaching 90 degrees for the first time each spring. It doesn’t necessarily signal a major pattern shift in the atmosphere. It’s just another mark on the Fahrenheit scale used by humans to measure temperature. If we used the Celsius scale like most of the rest of the world, we would probably consider 30 degrees Celsius, which corresponds to 86 degrees Fahrenheit, a milestone worthy of attention.

Hitting 90 degrees is no different than reaching a new decade marker on a birthday. Your body isn’t appreciably different on the day you turn 40 than it was the day before when you were still in your 30s.

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However, just as entering a new decade of age propels some people into melancholy or a mulling over of questions such as, “What have I done with my life?” I confess that the arrival of temperatures in the nineties each spring evokes a psychological response in me. Just as a person may feel nostalgia in their 60s for the body they had in their 20s, I begin to feel nostalgia for cooler days when I first read or hear the words, “highs in the 90s.”

The mercury moved into ninety degree territory at a few locations in Pearl River County on Wednesday and Thursday.  A cool frontal passage on Friday brought in a milder air mass with lower humidities, which will be especially evident at night and in the early mornings this weekend as lows are expected in the 60-65 degree range.

But, there’s another dynamic at work pushing our temperatures upward. On Saturday morning a lens of warm air and high pressure about two to five miles above sea level will stretch from the American Southwest all the way to northern Canada, and this ridge of warmth is moving our way. It will continue to intensify over the next couple of days and stall over us. Not only does the warm air aloft increase temperatures near the earth’s surface, the dry high pressure will keep skies on the fair side, allowing the strong May sunshine to crank up the heat.

Afternoon highs will flirt with 90 degrees each afternoon this weekend, Monday, and Tuesday. Models predict that by Wednesday the high pressure above us will be much warmer and stronger than what we normally see this time of year. Any location in Pearl River County that hasn’t already cracked the 90 degree line almost certainly will do so on Wednesday. In fact, there are indications that mid-90s are possible.

Ninety degree temperatures are arriving slightly earlier than average. Over the last century the average date in Poplarville for the first 90-degree-or-warmer day is May 16th, although it has occurred as early as the second week of April and as late as the second week of June.

As for middle 90s, Poplarville has recorded a temperature warmer than 93 degrees before May 12th in only four springs in over 100 years of weather observations. The most recent such early heat was in 2002 on May 11th.

I’m beginning to feel nostalgic for February.