Cool and Early: The Grey Norther Arrives?

The blocking ridge of high pressure drifted back to the west on Friday and Saturday, shifting the flow of moisture and wind as it moved. Instead of southwest winds and mid-90s, the forecast called for the 80s and northeasterly breezes. And 80% chance of rain, which means 0%. It’s a regional rule of thumb that the higher the forecasters’ confidence, the lower the actual odds.

It sounded like the typical cool front that has been visiting the region for the past month, more or less, in other words. The High to the west steers Canadian air down and allows Gulf of Mexico moisture to come up. The combination means not as warm as average, and not as dry as average. We’re actually east of the true drought region, for a change. [taps wood]

Saturday was warm and muggy. You know, mid 90sF and dewpoints in the 60s. Not Houston or Mobile humid, but plenty sticky for this part of the world. Red spots began appearing on the radar in late afternoon, and the wind seemed to be switching from south to north-ish. The front was oozing through. The sky grew overcast, and sort of grey looking, but nothing really to write home about. And then the rain started around seven thirty that night.

It pounded, bucketed, gooshed, and drenched everything. The usual places had high water, as they usually do. I suspect the ball game got called a wee bit early, but I didn’t check. The storms had some thunder and lightning, but not as much as the spring monsters did. One or two went severe, then weakened to “frog strangler.” The house ended up getting 1.4″. The airport, which is the official reporting site for statistical purposes, got half an inch. A quick survey the next morning showed that it ranged from a two inch rain (drops two inches apart) to .58″ to 1.9″. If you were under a storm, you got a rain, in other words. That’s how this summer has been in general. We have not gotten a lot of the huge rain-shields that cover tens or hundreds of square miles. Instead we got smaller, mostly stationary storms that dumped water over a limited area. Or we got “trains,” long chains of storms that covered the same area as they moved through, sort of like the path of the tornado outbreak in the early spring.

Sunday the sky got brighter but never really cleared. A very misty tropical rain started just after one, as I sat on the floor in the front room, surrounded by papers, shoeboxes, a garbage bag, and other evidence of sorting in progress. No wind moved the rain or the trees. That ended after an hour or so and left almost another .10″ in the rain gauge. The midnight temperature on Sunday was 73F, and had dropped to 71 by 0700. After the rain, a strong northeast wind began blowing, and the temperature continued to fall to 64F by 1600. I went walking and greatly enjoyed the refreshing change.

Sunday-Monday the low dropped to 62F with the north wind, so I aired out the house for the first time in weeks. The dewpoint also dropped. On Tuesday, I woke at 0530 to light westerly winds, a dewpoint of 40, and a temperature of 60. Wheeeeee! That’s the driest this area has been since May. You bet I was out and about enjoying the pre-dawn chill. I also opened all the windows and screen-doors to let as much cool, dry into the place as possible.

Heat will return, and humidity. But this is the warning shot across summer’s bow. Slowly, more and stronger cold fronts will race down from Canada, then from Siberia. The days grow shorter, the sycamore trees are dropping bark, the sun moves south. Summer is not over, no. But it is starting to stagger and weaken. Orion dominates the pre-dawn sky. We’re entering the fat season, harvest and canning season.

11 thoughts on “Cool and Early: The Grey Norther Arrives?

  1. Similar in the East – night temperatures in the 50s. Open the house and air out, including basement. Canning season is started, now eyeing up a drawer of tomatoes, and the third round of cukes for pickling. Also time to get to farm stands for seconds, suitable to freeze, can, or pickle. But first, more plain salt for the brine.

    • I was staying at a ranch B&B some years back, opened the small secondary door in my room, and discovered the wall-o-‘maters. The entire space was floor to ceiling peaches, eight kinds of pickled veggies, chow-chows, tomatoes, tomato sauces, chili . . . It was beautiful, and I wanted to cart the whole thing off. I never did figure out how to steal, er, borrow any for quality test purposes.

  2. Here is East Central Illinois, we’ve been having the cooler temps in the evening and night.

  3. Out here in the west it has stayed rather toasty, yesterday was 8 degrees above the forecast, into triple digits…

    • We’ll be back up, above average, starting today. It may bump 100 this weekend. It’s uncanny—the school doors open and the temperature soars.

      • I think that is a law of Nature…the end of Spring semester and the beginning of the Fall semester are the hottest days of summer.

  4. Grumble. We’re getting the opposite. We’ve had a wet day about a week ago, but the fires have been getting dry thunderstorms or gusty winds. Smoke is somewhere between horrible and “wear an N95 facemask”. I don’t do well with masks, though an SCBA sounds inviting.

    Daytime temps are running in the 90s except when smoke is really bad. Night ranges from 45 to 60, though airing out depends on residual smoke. A look at the satellite imagery from the Medford, OR weather service office shows our problem. Northern California’s biggest export is smoke right now. Thick smoke, ashes optional.

    I gather the final resolution of these fires will depend on winter. Whee.

  5. Down thisaways (Seguin), last summer it hit 100+ at the end of July and did so for every day of August, on into September. The motor (I think it was the circuit board actually) on the gate would rebel and refuse to work in late afternoon until dark, when it would cool back down to 98 or so. This summer, we’ve had so much rain, the daily temps are in the relatively cool lower 90s. Humid as all get out. Vegetation has gone wild, very lush, which is scary because it means when it finally dries out the wild fire fuel load will be very high.

    • I walked out of Day Job this afternoon and thought, “Wow, it’s a dry heat!” It’s the first time in quite a while for the blast-furnace southwest wind. And we are cooler than the 104 F of Monday.

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