Thursday, September 13, 2012

Is summer finished?

The last day of meteorological summer was Aug. 31, and the last official day of summer -- by the calendar -- is next Thursday.

But it's possible the real last day of summer was Saturday, when the temperature reached 90 degrees in Charlotte before strong thunderstorms ushered a cold front through the area.

Now it looks as if real summer weather -- defined as high temperatures in the upper 80s and low 90s, and lows near 70 -- won't return soon.  In fact, it might not return until 2013.

If you look at the overall monthly numbers, the temperature in Charlotte for the first 12 days of the month is 2.4 degrees above average. But that's deceiving. Since Sunday, daily temperatures have been 3.5 degrees below average.  It dropped to 52 degrees Tuesday, the coldest morning since May 12, when it was 50. The low Thursday was 53.

That trend doesn't look to change soon.

We could get into a pattern early next week when overnight lows remain mild (upper 60s), but there's no signs of a return to 90-degree weather.

The Climate Prediction Center is forecasting below-average temperatures for the Charlotte region over the next 8 to 14 days.  By the end of that period, in the final days of September, climatology argues against a return to summer-like conditions.

We're stuck in a pattern of a northwest flow over the eastern United States. That's an awful pattern in winter (except for you snow-lovers), but it's rather nice in September.

We'll review the summer sometime in the next week, but the Charlotte area escaped without too much heat. Granted, we tied the city's all-time heat record on three different days in late June and early July, with highs of 104 degrees.  That alone makes it a summer to remember.

But June wasn't terribly hot, and August was downright tolerable, at least by Carolinas standards.