Fall is here, but where is it?

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By Charles Roop | WCTV Eyewitness News
September 24, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) — The first day of fall, when the sun’s rays are directly on the Earth’s equator, occurred on Friday. But you would expect or hope to pull out those blankets, light up the bon fire, and be sipping on your favorite fall beverage while chatting up with your friends about football, Halloween plans, and when your friend will get the next iPhone.

But instead, it felt more like this…

And our weather team’s forecasts were not cranking out temps in the mid 80s and mid 60s. Instead, it felt like summer never left. “Showers and thunderstorm chances are in the mix,” we would say. And we close it off with another kick in the face: “Expect highs in the 90s.”

So, using the musical lyrics from 4 Non Blondes, “what’s going on?”

What’s normal?

In late September, we normally begin to see the highs drop to the mid 80s and lows in the mid 60s in Tallahassee, according to data from the National Weather Service. In early October, we go from the mid to lower 80s with lows hitting the lower 60s.

What have we been recording lately?

Before and during Hurricane Irma’s arrival, temperatures were well below normal as northerly flow brought drier and cooler air in the area. But since Sept. 15, the daily average temperature has been above average. Saturday’s average temperature was 5 degrees above normal.

What’s happening?

With upper-level troughing in the western U.S., it is leaving ridging in the East. This is leaving temperatures below average in the West, while leaving places like the Great Lakes above normal. Sault Sainte Marie, Mich. reached a record high Saturday of 90 degrees. Yes, that is in Michigan. That city’s normal high for Saturday is 64 degrees. And it will continue in the near term.

Will things change soon?
The ridging will begin to break down for the Great Lakes as a trough develops and dips southward. Forecast ensembles show that trough digging into New England through the Mid Atlantic states. This will usher in a cold front towards our area sometime next weekend.

It’s a bit too far out for nailing down temperatures, but the European model has lows in the lower 60s for Tallahassee with the ensemble mean a few degrees warmer next Sunday or Monday. How low it will go depends how far south this cooler air gets and how much it gets modified as it travels south.

Stay tuned.

What about the rest of the season?

The Climate Prediction Center is calling for equal chances of above, below, or near-normal temperatures for October, with an chance of above-average rainfall for our eastern areas. But the CPC is also calling - overall - increased chances of above-normal temperatures for October, November and December.

Odds are increasing for La Niña conditions to develop in the next few months as water temps continue to cool in the equatorial Pacific off the coast of South America. For the Southeast U.S., this usually means warmer and drier conditions overall during the fall and winter months.

If you are a fall weather lover, this may not spell good news.

Savor that fall weather whenever we get it, because if the patterns hold, we might not see much of it.