Bookended by warmth, August wrapped up a heat summer season statewide, whereas scattered showers introduced our ongoing drought to an finish. We additionally flip to the tropics and overview a uncommon storm-free August.
A Heat Summer time Wraps Up
A scorching begin and finish to August have been balanced by cooler mid-month climate, but it surely was nonetheless a warmer-than-normal month total. The Nationwide Facilities for Environmental Data (NCEI) stories a preliminary statewide common temperature final month of 76.6°F, which ranks as our Forty fifth-warmest August since 1895.
Beneath the management of excessive stress centered over the Carolinas, early August noticed a continuation of the new and humid dog-day climate from July. Excessive temperatures reached the higher 90s on August 9 and 10.
Our ECONet station at Jockey’s Ridge State Park hit 97.5°F on August 9, which is the warmest temperature recorded there for the reason that station was put in earlier this 12 months, and greater than 10 levels above regular for that a part of the northern Outer Banks.
After that, warmth reduction arrived by August 12, as a pair of chilly fronts transferring in from the northwest packed a one-two punch of wanted rainfall and cooler, much less humid air.
On the morning of August 14, temperatures in some areas bottomed out within the 50s, together with a low of 59°F in Jacksonville. That was the primary night time within the 50s there since June 22. Within the Mountains, Sparta and Mount Mitchell each had a low of 49°F on August 13 – the primary really feel of fall after a steamy summer season, even at our high-elevation areas.
The month ended with the return of excessive stress over the Southeast and temperatures nicely into the 90s throughout North Carolina, reminding us that summer season wasn’t fairly completed but.
By means of the top of August, Raleigh has recorded 69 days this 12 months with temperatures reaching a minimum of 90°F. That’s the second-most all time, trailing solely 2010, which had 75 such days at this level within the 12 months.
Again in 2010, we tacked on 16 extra 90-degree days in September, so it will likely be a problem for the capital metropolis to contend for the outright annual file. In any case, this was an particularly heat summer season in Raleigh – the Third-warmest on file, the truth is – with few breaks from the warmth.
Elsewhere, Wilmington tied for its 4th-warmest summer season and Charlotte had its Tenth-warmest summer season all-time, which was the warmest there since 2016.
Statewide, on the energy of three consecutive warmer-than-normal months, it was our Fifteenth-warmest summer season on file, in keeping with the preliminary knowledge from NCEI. Every of our previous eight summers, and 16 of the previous 18, have been hotter than the Twentieth-century common.
Showers Deliver Drought Reduction
Throughout the state, a combination of moist and dry circumstances averaged out to a preliminary statewide common precipitation of 4.43 inches and our Forty seventh-driest August previously 128 years, in keeping with NCEI.
There have been few widespread precipitation occasions in the course of the month. As a substitute, pop-up showers and thunderstorms have been chargeable for most of our rainfall, which left some areas soaked whereas others missed out.
Elements of the Piedmont have been notably dry, together with solely 0.91 inches of rain all month in Raleigh, which ranked as tied for its 2nd-driest August courting again to 1887. Monroe measured simply 2.33 inches all month for its Twentieth-driest August previously 127 years.
Among the many wetter areas, Hickory picked up 3.45 inches of rain from slow-moving storms on the afternoon of August 6 and completed the month 3.3 inches above regular, with its Ninth-wettest August previously 73 years.
Within the east, Plymouth had a mixed 4.79 inches in the course of the frontal passages on August 11 and 12, which made up greater than half of its 8.90-inch month-to-month complete.
That occasion additionally introduced well-placed showers throughout the central Coastal Plain. Weekly totals of greater than 4 inches in Goldsboro and a pair of.8 inches at Fort Bragg have been sufficient to raise these areas out of drought for the primary time since mid-March.
As that closing patch of Average Drought (D1) lastly disappeared on the August 23 map, we ended a run of 43 consecutive weeks with drought current in North Carolina. That ranks as our fifth-longest streak for the reason that US Drought Monitor started formally monitoring circumstances in 2000.
In hindsight, what stands out about this drought? To place it succinctly: its stubbornness however total lack of severity.
Drought was current in all 4 seasons over the previous 12 months. It first emerged throughout our dry fall earlier than enhancing – though not completely disappearing – within the winter. The spring noticed an growth throughout the Coastal Plain, after which summer season showers finally eroded it away.
Considered one of its essential impacts was the November fireplace season within the northwest Piedmont, together with the 1,000-acre Grindstone Hearth on Pilot Mountain. As dry circumstances set on this spring, the corn crop additionally took a success and should not full get better throughout this rising season. Simply final week, 37% of corn was rated in poor or very poor situation, and Extension brokers in Union County say this 12 months’s corn yield there could possibly be half as a lot as traditional.
Nevertheless, we by no means noticed broad-scale crop harm – most cotton, soybeans, and tobacco are in good condition in the intervening time – or widespread water provide disruptions as in some previous prolonged droughts.
That largely got here down to 2 elements. First, we by no means reached worse than Extreme Drought, or D2 on the US Drought Monitor’s four-category drought scale. In all 4 of our longer-lived droughts since 2000, elements of the state have been categorized in Excessive (D3) or Distinctive (D4) Drought, which are likely to trigger worse and extra entrenched impacts.
Second, drought was largely confined to the Sandhills and Coastal Plain. Even at its broadest extent final December, the southern Mountains averted any drought classification, and precipitation in the course of the winter and spring was usually adequate to maintain the Piedmont on the fringes of drought and its impacts.
We definitely can’t rule out a drought re-emergence if some spots dry out this fall, and Abnormally Dry (D0) areas stay the place summer season rainfall and streamflows have been beneath regular. Nevertheless, the excellent news is that the summer season introduced total enhancements – and never degradations – to our statewide drought scenario.
The Calm Earlier than the Storms?
The disappearance of drought was a bit stunning contemplating we didn’t have any rain contribution from tropical storms final month. That lack of current exercise within the Atlantic has shocked even consultants who predicted a prolific hurricane season this 12 months.
“They’re completely flummoxed,” stated Dr. Carl Schreck, an professional in tropical local weather on the North Carolina Institute for Local weather Research in Asheville. “By all accounts, August ought to have been lively.”
There have been – and nonetheless are – good causes for that expectation of an lively season. For one, sea floor temperatures throughout the Atlantic have been hotter than regular this summer season, together with throughout the primary growth area from the coast of Africa by means of the Caribbean, and within the Gulf Stream alongside our east coast.
La Niña circumstances stay in place, and the weaker upper-level westerly winds related to these occasions are likely to lower wind shear throughout the Atlantic and make it simpler for storms to kind. That’s only one a part of a broadly favorable wind sample within the basin.
“Tropical winds are all about in, up, and out,” stated Schreck. “Air is mostly rising over the Atlantic and Africa, and people areas have been a minimum of marginally wetter than regular.”
Whereas plumes of mud carried from the Sahara Desert inhibited potential exercise in July, August had usually extra favorable environmental circumstances – however nonetheless no tropical storms. The primary lacking ingredient was vertical instability, which might provoke the thunderstorm clusters that usually turn into tropical techniques.
In consequence, it was solely the third August since 1950 with no named storms within the Atlantic, becoming a member of 1961 and 1997. And previous to the event of Tropical Storm Danielle on September 1, we went 60 consecutive days for the reason that final named storm – Tropical Storm Colin, which briefly skirted our coast in early July.
That was the longest hole between named storms throughout hurricane season since 1999. After all, that 12 months gives a memorable lesson for why we shouldn’t let our guard down, regardless of the shortage of exercise to date this season.
Throughout a two-week interval in September 1999, two hurricanes – first Dennis, then Floyd – every drenched japanese North Carolina, and their aftermath noticed historic inland and freshwater flooding alongside the Tar, Neuse, and Cape Worry rivers.
Whereas that’s no assure we’ll have related storms this 12 months, it’s a reminder that an impactful – and even above-normal – hurricane season remains to be attainable now that we’re seeing extra disturbances crossing the Atlantic.
The standard peak of hurricane season could also be in mid-September, however the exercise could also be simply starting at that time this 12 months. So get ready and keep alert, as a result of the tropics are lastly heating up.