Tuesday, May 31, 2011

OK, it's almost June ... but come on!!!

I realize this is the South, and we're one day from the start of meteorological summer (June 1-Aug. 31), but don't fool yourself into thinking this week's heat wave is nothing out of the ordinary.

It is out of the ordinary.

And in a strange way, it's almost a mirror opposite of what happened exactly six months ago.

High pressure is building almost directly over the Carolinas, and it will bring near-record-breaking heat to the Charlotte region for the next few days. Today's forecast high of around 95 degrees isn't far from the day's record of 97, set in 1953.

And highs Wednesday and Thursday are expected to be in the ballpark of those day's records -- 98 for Wednesday (in 1918) and 99 for Thursday (in 1951). The heat likely will continue through the weekend and into next week, although there will be a slight change in the pattern.

Forecasters expect the center of high pressure to move backwards -- to the west -- a bit. That will bring more of an Atlantic Ocean flow into the Carolinas, which often tends to create some cloudiness and lower temperatures a few degrees. But highs are still predicted to reach 90 into next Tuesday.

So we've established that it will be hot. And, by the way, the air quality will be bad, too, because with high pressure centered over us, there will be very little air movement. That means a build-up in ozone levels, and it's the reason for our Code-Orange alert today.

A quick look at temperatures in late May and early June for the last 10 years shows nothing like this. There were a few years when Charlotte had three or four consecutive days in the 90s in early June, but nothing approached the string of seven or eight straight 90-degree days that are expected this time.

Many of those years, we had highs in the 70s in the first week of June. The average high for this time of year, by the way, is around 84.

So this is not normal.

I found it interesting how the beginning of meteorological summer was similar to the start of meteorological winter last Dec. 1.

We had warm weather through Thanksgiving, and the high temperature on Dec. 1 -- the first day of meteorological winter -- was 67 in Charlotte. Three days later, the high only reached 41, and it went downhill from there. From Dec. 4 until Valentine's Day, the Charlotte region (and nearly all of the eastern United States) had unrelenting cold and frozen precipitation.

It was as if a switch was flicked early last December, "turning on" winter.

Now it's happening with summer.

There's one other thing to watch here. Keep an eye on the location of high pressure systems over the next few weeks. That could give us an idea of where those highs will be in August and September, when tropical storms and hurricanes begin developing. The location of Atlantic high pressure plays a big role in determining if hurricanes are steered into Mexico (as was the case last year), the Gulf of Mexico (remember 2005?), or the East Coast and Florida panhandle (2004).


Anonymous said...

Steve, could you do an article about the effects of high humidity & high dew points on folks with Emphysema, & other lung disease. For me, this week will be spent, mostly, indoors.

Anonymous said...

Last year it was in the freakin' 90's it seemed every day until October. Do we have that to look forward to again? In five years here the only nice year was 2008 when summer was bearable and Autumn came right on schedule. Man, I hate summer.

Anonymous said...

As a native Charlottean, I can tell you that weather in the South is never normal. With all the hyperactive weathercasters out there screaming about it being in the 90s, you'd think we've never had any 90-degree temps here ever. Yeah it's hot. Yeah it's humid. What's the big deal? People in the southwestern part of the US laugh at us talking about how hot it is here, when they have temps in the 120s. You can always tell when people aren't from here by how big of a deal they make out of the weather (and that's just about everybody). The weather forecasts are getting to be quite embarrassing, with their warnings of DRINK LOTS OF WATER! STAY HYDRATED! My husband and I laugh at the hotness. We were outside yesterday! In the sun! Drinking alcohol! And we survived.

Anonymous said...

10:32 AM

Typical Charlotte native. No doubt drunk before noon, half a pack smoked, with a pack and half to go.

Anonymous said...

10:32: Ever heard of a thing called humidity?

Anonymous said...

10:32 here. Nope, not drunk at all, never smoked in my life. And I've been outside in the humidity far longer than I am guessing any of you have. Just so tired of people moving here and complaining about the weather. If it's too hot for ya, then return to your place of origin and stop complaining about the heat and humidity.

Anonymous said...

Now would be great weather for a Polar Bear Plunge. Just fill a kiddie pool with cold water and ice and then 'drown' on it.

Anonymous said...

Yes it is kind of humorous to hear people complain. We're all so spoiled to the AC. The old-timers knew how to cope with the heat, like if you need to work outdoors, you do it from 6:30 am til 9:00 am. Now we sleep until 10:00 am on Saturday, then start the yardwork at noon in the hottest part of the day. I say bring on the summer sun, I cannot stand cold weather or snow!

Anonymous said...

Why is the first day of "meteorological summer" (June 1) different from the chronological first day of summer (June 21)?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous native - thanks for displaying that great Southern hospitality. I just love it when hospitable Southerners rant about how much they hate Northerners and want them to go back where they came from. Most transplants are here for the more favorable work environment or to be near family. That doesn't make the body automatically accustomed to Southern weather. I have been here for 23 years and my body hasn't adjusted. Doesn't mean I hate it here, that I want to re-create my Northern world here, that I want to destroy Southern life as you know it, it just means that I think it's too bloody hot, that's all.

The older I get, the more like a Polar bear I become, relishing any sign of the temp dipping below 50.

Steve - I too have wondered how "meterorologica" seasons start 3 weeks before the real season starts. Wouldn't it make more sense to start them the month following the season change (i.e. meteorological summer starting July 1)? That would capture the weather of the season within the season. It looks silly when we have 20 straight 90+ temps in the "meteorological autumn" month of September.

Jod said...

When its cold, I hear people complain its so bittelry cold (at 32 degrees). And when it starts getting warm, I hear people complain its too hot... all I can say is... quit your complaining!!!

Its weather, and there's nothing you can do about it except enjoy it whatever way you see fit. :)

camfinch said...

Meteorological summer is the hottest three months of the year measured by average temperatures--June, July, and August. In Europe, folks generally think of summer as the warmest part of the year, and don't think of summer beginning on June 21--which is the beginning of astronomical summer, or the three months following the summer solstice. And the corresponding is true for meterological winter, December, January, and February.