Big League Rain

By Russell Russ

The month’s high temperature of 84 degrees was observed on August 1 and the low temperature of 49 degrees was observed on both August 23 and 30. The average mean temperature was 67.2 degrees, just one degree above normal. It is surprising that the temperatures were fairly normal considering the numerous cloudy and rainy days we had in August.

The big news this August was the rain. We were headed for an above average precipitation month anyway and then came Irene. The total precipitation for the month was 13.36 inches, a whopping 8.83 inches above normal. It was Norfolk’s fifth wettest month, of any month of the year, since we began recording observations in January 1932. The wettest month still remains August 1955 when we recorded 23.67 inches. We did not come close to that record, but we did come very close to the September 1938 monthly total of 13.40 inches. It is definitely saying something when you can compare this August with the month that included The Great Hurricane of ’38.

Hurricane Irene hit the coast of North Carolina and ran right up the east coast causing widespread flooding and damage all the way to Vermont. Turning into a tropical storm just prior to hitting the Connecticut coast, Irene still packed a punch with heavy rains which flooded or washed out many roads. The power was out just a few hours for some, but many days for others. We were on the rainy side of the storm, so fortunately missed most of the high winds. The rainfall total during the 24-hour period from 12 p.m. August 27 to 12 p.m. August 28 was 7.39 inches. This was less than a 24-hour total of 10.67 inches recorded during Diane, the second of two hurricanes that hit Norfolk in August 1955, but more than the 5.89 inches that were recorded during a 24-hour period during The Great Hurricane of ’38. In all, Irene dumped 7.71 inches over a span of 27 hours.

Through August this year, the total yearly precipitation amount was 49.12 inches. This is 14.69 inches above normal through August. With four months to go until the end of the year, we are currently just 3.43 inches away from our average amount for the entire year. With hurricane season in full swing, we may reach our normal yearly total before the leaves start to fall. This year has the potential to be one of the wettest years on record for Norfolk.