Thursday, August 1, 2013

What happens in August?

There are several things I'm certain about in August.

School will start, and the many thousands of students headed to the classrooms will include my granddaughter Gracie, entering kindergarten.

The Panthers will win a couple exhibition games, and some of their fans will predict a 13-3 season and a Super Bowl appearance. The Tampa Bay Rays and Pittsburgh Pirates will keep winning. My Cleveland Indians won't.

And I'm pretty certain -- based on everything I've seen -- that August weather in the Charlotte region will look a lot like June and July.

Oh -- and your August vacations at the Carolinas beaches probably won't be impacted by tropical storms or hurricanes.

In short, August looks like another month of no heat waves and a lot of unsettled weather.  I fear we haven't seen the last of severe thunderstorms and flash flooding.

Our summer weather so far has been the result of a blocking pattern. For most of the past two months, we've had a Bermuda high pressure, another high pressure system in the western United States, and an area of weakness (a trough, or dip in the atmospheric currents) in the eastern United States.

That dip has brought a string of low pressure systems into the Southeast.  Sometimes they've been accompanied by cold fronts, most of which dissipate somewhere in the Carolinas.

That has produced some monumental rainfall totals, like the 25-plus inches since June 1 in Hickory. Some areas in the North Carolina mountains have exceeded their average annual rainfall totals, with five months still to go.

The long-range computer models point to a continuation of the pattern.

If this type of pattern develops in winter, those of us in the Carolinas are using snow shovels and ice scrapers.  In the summer, it means moderate temperatures and a lot of rain.

Tropical weather activity should be quiet in the Atlantic for the next few weeks. Satellite photos show a lot of dry air being blown westward into the Atlantic from Saharan Africa.  That usually puts a lid on the development of tropical storms and hurricanes, and forecasters seem to think it will continue into at least the middle of August.

That won't stop the development of tropical systems in the Gulf of Mexico, but the Carolinas coast should catch a break for at least a few weeks.

Remember, though. Once conditions become more favorable for development in the Atlantic, the current pattern over the eastern United States (Bermuda high and eastern U.S. trough) would favor tropical storms and hurricanes making a run at the Southeast coast.