An Early Start to Fall

I have to admit, Mondays aren't my least favorite day of the week. Usually, that honor is reserved for Tuesday. On Monday, you're fresh off a weekend, rested, still on an energy hangover from the previous days which are often filled with friends, good food, and all-important sleep. Once into Tuesday, one realizes, wow, it's only Tuesday. You still have the second half of the week ahead of you. Wednesday marks hump day which can often inject some encouragement; Thursday brings further optimism of “Tomorrow's Friday!”; Friday needs no explanation. Seriously, even Monday has its own football game to look forward to. There's just something about the reality-check of Tuesday that has never agreed with me. Even Domino's Pizza echoed the same sentiments a few years ago with a sweet pizza deal only available on Tuesdays. Looking at the forecast, the dismay toward Tuesday may be put on hold briefly as a glorious stretch of weather begins tomorrow and looks to last through the coming holiday weekend. I agree that a little sunshine can make any day a whole lot better!

A pile of weather clichés ran through my head this morning while making the forecast: everything from “It's a dose of Fall a few weeks early!” to “Where's the Heat?” and even “Mother Nature needs a calendar check”. No matter how you slice it, it just isn't going to feel like summer the next seven days. Then again, have the last two months in general? We begin today with a stationary front stretched from the outer Banks roughly to Mobile, Alabama with an area of low pressure over eastern North Carolina.

In case you're curious, a stationary front is nothing more than a boundary between a cold, dry air mass and a warm, humid air mass. The air masses aren't moving; they're just sitting there, looking at each other, maybe swapping cookie recipes, maybe even talking about Gorbachev's rule in communist Russia in the 1980s. This stationary front, a zone if you will, is often an area where clouds, showers, and even thunderstorms develop. In our case, cool air, warm air, moisture, and that low sending air upward has led to precipitation through the Carolinas to central Virginia eastward to Hampton Roads. A sprawling area of high pressure currently sits over Illinois, driving cool air into the area. As a result our highs today will struggle to reach (and in most places fall short of) the mid-70s.

High pressure systems are interesting in their own right. A high pressure system is nothing more than a sinking mass of air that diverges, or spreads out as the air hits the ground. This sinking air warms as it falls, and combined with the spreading air “pushing clouds” out of the way most times leads to very pleasant, sunny weather over an area. That's certainly the case from the front range of the Rockies to the western side of the Appalachians. This high will drift east during the week, giving us sunshine and progressively warmer temperatures. Brighter skies will be had tomorrow, and by the weekend temperatures will be back in the 80s. With this high going nowhere fast (cliché intended) our weather should stay gorgeous through most of the holiday weekend: perfect weather for that final summer barbecue.

My closing thought for this blog takes me back a few weeks to a fantastic visit with the incoming freshmen class of meteorology students at Penn State University. Their annual icebreaker retreat was held at Lake Raystown, Pennsylvania's largest lake situated between State College and the Maryland border. It's a gorgeous place, surrounded by enough trees, wildlife, and water to make any outdoors fanatic feel in heaven. While leaving the event and driving the many two-lane, windy mountain roads that return one to civilization, I couldn't help but notice how green and thick the Pennsylvania forests were. They've certainly not been at a loss for rain north of the Mason-Dixon line with many places so wet even a small thunderstorm could send streams over their banks. I thought back to my years living in Pennsylvania and the gorgeous foliage that greeted one every Fall and realized soon these very hillsides would be alive with the reds, oranges, yellows, and purples that are so characteristic of the transition to snowflakes and bitter chill of winter. Like it or not, my friend, Autumn is closing in, that time where temperatures slowly cool and sweatshirts slowly come out of the closets. Football season is already underway, the kids are back in school, and we will look again to the hillsides as our seasonal barometer. I am hoping Mother Nature is kind to the trees of Virginia this Fall, that any frosts may be late in the year, the days be warm, the nights be cool, the ground be wet, and the colors exceptionally vivid.

That's not too much to ask, is it?

Over and out,

Travis Koshko




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