Warm and Wet
By Russell Russ
The month’s high temperature of 81 degrees was observed on September 3 and the low temperature of 38 degrees was observed on both September 17 and 19. The average mean temperature was 63.1 degrees, 4.4 degrees above normal. This September was the third warmest September in the last 80 years. In fact, five of the six warmest Septembers on record have occurred in the last 11 years. The high temperature of 78 degrees on September 27 was a record for that date, beating the 1933 record of 76 degrees. The first frost of the season came on September 19 when many low lying areas saw just a touch of frost.
The big news again this month was the rain. Normally, any given month will have scattered rain throughout the month with one, maybe two, separate larger events. There were three periods during September which produced heavy rainfall totals. Tropical Storm Lee which brought heavy prolonged rain to the southern Gulf States slowly moved over our area and dumped a total of 6.90 inches of rain between September 5 and 8. Another round of rain between September 21 and 24 produced 2.31 inches. Then another slow moving system came in between September 28 and 30 and dumped another 3.98 inches. On the morning of September 29 Norfolk received just over 2 inches in two hours and to top it off, a very heavy downpour during the evening of September 30 dumped one inch in just 15 minutes. There were five thunderstorms observed this month, three were on September 29.
The total precipitation for the month was 13.25 inches, 8.64 inches above normal. It was Norfolk’s sixth wettest month, of any month of the year, since we’ve been recording observations. August 2011 was the fifth wettest month. weather observations have been recorded here for 957 months; we just recorded the fifth and sixth wettest months back to back.
Through September this year, the total yearly precipitation amount was 62.37 inches. This is 23.33 inches above normal through the month of September. With three months to go until the end of the year, we are currently 9.82 inches above our average amount for the entire year. It already is the tenth wettest year over the last 80 years and we still have three months to go. If we get just a little above average precipitation over the final months of the year then 2011 will have a strong chance of becoming the wettest year on record.